The TogetherintheUK’s Story-Telling Competition has now closed!
No further submissions will be accepted at this time
Thank you to those who have entered. We will keep the voting panel open for a further two weeks before selecting the winning shortlisted entries which will be presented to the judges.
You can still vote for your favourite stories, poems and essays for the next two weeks until Sunday, 16th May, after which we shall close voting and shortlist the entries to be submitted to the judges to select our final winners in the various categories on the 8th July 2021. Good Luck all!
Please do read up on the judges below the submissions
You are nine years old. Your life is normal, well at least you believe it to be. Your biggest problems are where you want to put your favourite teddy bear and which Barbie movie to watch after supper. You don’t know how much your life can change in such a short time.
Terminal 3. As you step out of the airplane, an icy wind engulfs you. The sky is enclosed by soft charcoal clouds. You take a deep breath in and the bitterly cold air hits the back of your throat. The wind swerves between the leaves on oak trees that are placed in an orderly line. The condensation on the windows along the walkway have crystallised into minuscule patterns. You analyse every crystal structure as you meander along the hallway, your purple hand luggage drags along behind you. Each crystal is unique, not one crystal is like the last. It fascinates you, although they may be similar, there are still minute details that make them different. The stark contrast between this wintery environment and the hot, sunny, dry place you have always called home is overwhelming.
As you wait for your London taxi cab with all your worldly possessions stacked up in six suitcases, your mind again flicks back to all that you’ve left behind. Family, friends, school, pets and so many memories. Why did your parents make this drastic decision? The enormity of what has just happened and where you are now hits you.
You are used to hot, dry weather. Christmas is in summer as opposed to winter, so when the Christmas music was about winter wonderlands, you never experienced what that was like.
What you thought was normal is surprising to other people. You have to live in an estate, otherwise it’s too dangerous. If you didn’t live in an estate, you would have six and a half foot high walls with electric fencing surrounding your house. Police with AK47’s instead of regular pistols roam around the shopping malls. They wave them about as if they are a toy. You bag has to be shoved under your chair when in a car to avoid people smashing your window.
The best way you would describe a majority of the people is careless and dangerous. Ramping pavements and running red lights, the roads are manic. But it’s your home. It’s were you learned to ride a bike, had your first crush, took your first steps, said your first words. It’s home. It’s where you grew up for nine years. Although you have moved, it will always be your home. The mountains worth of memories you’ve made there will never fade away.
As you gaze out of the pine needle scented taxi cab, you realise that the roads are quiet except from the engine noise. No honking, no banging of metal, just subtle engine noise. Nothing like what you’re used to. There are no street vendors knocking on your window and trying to convince you to buy an illegal copy of a dvd. It surprises you, but you’re also relieved.
The lights of London illuminate your face. People wander along the city streets, window shopping in the expensive stores. It seems safe, no one is looking over their shoulder to see if anyone is following them. This confuses you but also makes you feel comfortable. Your life has been full of precautions to ensure that you stayed safe. This was never weird to you because it was something you did naturally, you did every time you got in the car. You had an escape plan if anyone was ever to break into the car, if someone grabbed you, you would need to scream. You never realised that this wasn’t normal.
You don’t know what to expect when it comes to school. Things are so different. As time has passed, you have felt anxious about making new friends. As you walk into the school reception you feel the gaze of your soon to be class mates. You are the new kid, the one that everyone will talk about, the one that everyone wants to know about but is too scared to talk to. A tall smiley woman strides out of the office. She seems to be the head teacher, she starts to talk to your parents. You don’t pay attention, you are too interested in the class rooms that you can peer into from where you're standing. There are words in a different language written across the walls. A large “Bonjour” is slapped on the front of the door. You assume it’s French. The woman calls over an assistant.
“Can you grab Katherine for me please, she’s in 4G”. She continues to talk to your parents, she’s talking about some relatives who lives in the same neighbourhood as we used to.
A small girl rushes through. Her hair is just as long as yours. Her eyes seem to twinkle as she looks you up and down. Her presence lights up the room. She’s a teacher's pet. The head teacher turns around and a wide grin appears on her face.
“This is Erin, she is joining the school today and you are going to be her buddy” she says gesturing to you “Erin, this is Katherine. She will show you everything you need to see.”
A friend. Well maybe we will be friends. A sense of reassurance, she can introduce you to more people and maybe this won’t be as bad as you assumed. You have always been friendly and never been afraid to put yourself out there but after moving country and school, that sense of confidence is less than it previously was.
As you wave your parents goodbye, Katherine energetically grabs your bag and rushes down the hallway.
“Hi! I’m Katherine but you already know that, it’s nice to meet you!” Her excitement confuses you. why is she so comfortable around a person she’s never met before?
“It’s nice to meet you too.” You say cautiously, knowing your accent will draw attention to yourself. As you walk through the school, you realise that the classes are very small, the whole school is very small. Your old school goes from grade triple nought to matric. The oldest people you can see can’t be over the age of eleven. You are confused as to why the school is so small. There is no assembly hall, there is no outdoor swimming pool and there is only one small field.
“Your accent is weird, where are you from?” She asks you with a puzzled expression. You look back at her with mixed emotions.
“I’m from South Africa”.
Meet the Judges
Director, British Future
Sunder is the Director of British Future, a thinktank with a particular interest in migration. His career includes working as a Commissioning Editor at MacMillan, he has worked as a journalist and leader writer for the Observer. His parents came to the UK from Ireland and India to work for the NHS. TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Sunder has agreed to be a judge as someone who will be able to judge what works on a literary level and who has a deep understanding of migration.
Sunder says, ‘Sharing and hearing personal stories can often be the most effective way to build empathy and understanding, so I very much look forward to seeing what the competition brings’.
Founder and Executive Director
Nazek started Migrant Voice ten years ago when she identified that migrants were scapegoated and talked about and that migrants needed to speak out and be part of that debate taking place about them without them. Migrant Voice is a campaigning organisation speaking out on issues of injustice and working to strengthen different communities. Nazek is originally from Lebanon so understands migration very well both from her own personal experience and as a campaigner. TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Nazek has agreed to be a judge on the Creative Writing competition as someone whose organisation has just published a fantastic ebook, celebrating Black History in the West Midlands and someone with deep insight into migration. Nazek has kindly donated a place on her Media Lab programme to one lucky winner.
Nazek says, ‘ Migrant Voice has led on lots of different campaigns over the years, all geared to developing migrant voices sometimes through arts and poetry, through engaging with the media or through images. Its therefore obvious to me that I would want to encourage more voices, more creativity so of course, I want to be a judge on the TogetherinthUK competition.’
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Dubs came to Britain from Czechoslovakia in 1939 on the Kindertransport. He is a Labour politician having spent many years as the Labour MP for Battersea and he is now in the House of Lords.
Lord Dubs says ‘I am delighted to be a judge for TogetherintheUk’s creative writing competition 2020. I know from my own experience how disorientating it can be to arrive in a new country and I think it is fabulous that the competition will give migrant children the chance to write about their own experiences. This is an opportunity for children to tell your own stories about what it was like for them and what helped them get through this challenging time. I am really looking forward to the difficult task of choosing the best poem or story and seeing all entries published by TogetherintheUK’.
Public Relations Officer of the NCBA
Tyrone Roach is the Public Relations Officer of the NCBA – National Council of Barbadian Associations UK, an umbrella group for Barbadian Association in the United Kingdom. Where he has previously served as Chairman; He is also Chairperson of the Barbados Overseas Community Friends Association
Presently he is UK correspondent for the Barbados Nation Newspaper, a publication he has written for periodically over ten years, with responsibility for UK content, Editorial, advertising and Distribution – Online and in print
He has been responsible for several large events in the Barbadian community in England, where he worked closely with the Barbados High Commission. Events include the Independence Panel discussion, Barbados Forward Thinkers – Youth Seminar, A lil bit of Bim and the Barbados day event in Ipswich, both EXPO of Caribbean culture and products
His experience of working with connecting migrants from the Caribbean to the UK with their country of origin has given him a depth of knowledge of the challenges and joys of migration, plus, of course, he knows good writing. Hopefully!
Tyrone says, ‘ I am looking forward to seeing the creativity in the under 18 category I know that these young people will have their own, unique perspectives – and this will enable me to see how society has changed significantly over the last year’.
Professor of Economics and Public Policy
Jonathan is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College, London. His current research is on labour mobility both within and outside the European Union. He is a much published author both of academic books and articles in the press. He is well qualified to act as a judge in the TogetherintheUK creative writing competition as someone who has lived in both the USA and the UK and whose many talents include synthesizing complex topics like migration into something easily understood by most of us.
Jonathan says ‘I am continually fascinated by how and why people migrate and their experiences so I am very much looking forward to reading the entries and I am sure that I will be inspired by what people write’.
CEO and Founder
David Marshall founded Marshalls Elearning Consultancy in 2002. It specialises in diversity bringing together technology with experts in diversity. Marshalls provides all kinds of creative products to the market, all of which are designed to help organisations become more inclusive and diverse – constantly developing the ability to listen to different voices. David has very generously donated a Chromebook as the Marshall’s prize.
David says, ‘I am a sponsor of TogetherintheUK’s work as I love how they find different stories from different people, I have learnt so much from reading them about how people arrive in the UK and what works for them in building their lives here. I was delighted to be asked to be a judge on the competition as I want to know more’.
Consuelo is the publisher of the Victorina Press, she is a writer of poetry and short stories both in Spanish and English. She is Chilean/British and an academic and a publisher. She came to the UK in 1992 and before leaving Chile, she was an active political campaigner against the regime of General Pinochet. The mission of Victorina Press is to publish ‘inspirational books’. TogetherintheUK is delighted that Consuelo has agreed to be judge, as someone with personal experience of migration, a publisher and an author.
Consuelo says, ‘I love poetry and I love to read original work so I am very much looking forward to the creativity that I am sure will pour out of people when they sit down to write their entries’.