Peter Capaldi presents writing awards to creative young people in care

Capaldi applauds young writers in care as just six per cent of care leavers go ahead into university education

Peter Capaldi awarded the winners of the annual ‘Voices’ writing competition that provides children in care and care leavers with a unique platform to share their stories.

The competition, hosted by charity Coram Voice, held its award ceremony on 10 April at Havas Kings Cross.

Capaldi said: “It has been wonderful to see the competition grow and I am knocked out by the talent of those who take part.”

There were 24 entrants shortlisted for the competition and four overall winners. Both the shortlisted and winning pieces can be read online.

The winner of the care leaver category of the competition was 21 year old Sophia Alexandra Hall, who is a recent graduate of Oxford University, with her poem The Girl Behind The Glass. Statistics show that only around six per cent of care leavers gain a university education.

Sophia said: “There are so many awful stereotypes in the media about foster kids. By telling our stories we are breaking down these stereotypes and proving that we are not just numbers and statistics. We are so strong as individuals and we should be proud to share our stories.”

Sophia also runs a YouTube channel called ‘Care Leaver Sophia’, which she uses to give advice to other care leavers.

Other competition winners included an anonymous entry, aged nine, in the primary category with a poem On Reflection. Adam, who is 11, was the winner of the lower secondary category with poem Does Height Matter? Winnie, 17, was the winner of the upper secondary category with Shedding of Skin.

This was the fourth writing competition run by Coram Voice and was judged by a panel of writers, poets and rap artists, many of whom with first-hand experience of the care system.

The charity Coram Voice helps children and young people to hold the services responsible for their care to account.

Capaldi added: “The experience of care is not a straightforward one and needs greater understanding from all of us. There are few things that illuminate it more than these powerful words, chosen by gifted and resilient young people.”

Image: Peter Capaldi with winner Sophia, by Sam Mellish