Young people’s 'Writing the Pandemic' initiative comes to a close

Presented by the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester, Writing the Pandemic invited young people (aged 11-18) from Greater Manchester high schools and colleges to send in written responses to life in lockdown. From letters to poems, short stories to reports, entrants were encouraged to select whichever literary form best suited their own reflection on this remarkable moment in history.

The initiative opened for entries on 22 May 2020 – two months into lockdown. By 26 June, an amazing 200 pupils and students from 26 schools and colleges had sent in work. It was not just the quantity of the entries that impressed, though – it was the quality, too. The submissions received were wonderfully creative, and showcased the unique power of the written word to capture and process a turbulent world; for many of the young people, Writing the Pandemic had clearly offered a means of catharsis during lockdown life.

The entries were judged by a panel of professional writers, led by Professor of Poetry and Director of the Centre for New Writing, John McAuliffe. The panel had the difficult task of settling on 15 winners, who would receive prizes including book vouchers and online mentorship sessions with acclaimed writers.

We’d like to offer our warmest congratulations to the young writers below, whose exceptional entries were deemed winners of the Writing the Pandemic initiative. In addition to the above prizes, they have all earned themselves a place in leading international arts journal, The Manchester Review, where their work is available for all to read.

Alice Courtney – Holy Cross College

Armaan Shahzad – Burnage Academy for Boys

Caitlin Bones – Urmston Grammar

Elliot Taylor – Rivington and Blackrod High School

Farah Al-Rikabi – Levenshulme High School

Fatimah Naser – Whalley Range High School

Freya Stanley – Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Jacob Rashidi – Co-op Academy Manchester

James Tyrrell Brown – Xaverian Sixth-form college

Josh Cummings – Rivington and Blackrod High School

Madeleine Storer – Urmston Grammar

Paige Hamilton – Our Lady's RC High School

Sama Sameer – The East Manchester Academy

Grace Greaves – Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Winston Ado-Kofie – Trinity Church of England High School

Viewing lockdown through the eyes of Greater Manchester’s young people has been truly special. A huge thank you to all who submitted work, and congratulations once again to the talented young writers who won.

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