5th October 2017

An inspirational new creative writing competition – developed by the award-winning You Can Foster campaign – will encourage children and young people in foster care and fostering families from all over the North of England to tell their stories and so encourage a new generation of adults to sign up as foster carers.

And the entries, across five age categories, will be judged by an auspicious panel of children’s authors and poets including children’s author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, poet Tony Walsh, children’s authors Cathy Cassidy, Livi Michael and Dan Worsley.

The Inspiring Stories competition, aims to explore the ambitions of the thousands of children and young people who are in foster care across Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside.

It is hoped that the stories will reveal the real sense of value and motivation that foster carers can instill in the young and the profound way in which they can help shape young lives for the better.

Children’s author Frank Cottrell-Boyce said: “Stories are how we make sense of our lives.  The only way we can hope to understand another person is by listening to their story.  The only way we can hope to understand ourselves is by finding someone who will listen to our story. When we hear other people’s stories we discover we are not alone in our troubles.  And we learn that there are solutions to our problems.

“As G K Chesterton said – we don’t read fairy stories to learn that dragons are real.  We read them to learn that dragons can be defeated.”

Poet Tony Walsh said: “As a poet, a writer, an artist of any kind, ultimately it’s all about storytelling, isn’t it; the creation of something that connects with another human being and touches them or shapes them in some way. As someone from a very ordinary, working-class background myself and having worked with a huge variety of people, organisations and communities; celebrating and encouraging the extraordinary stories of ordinary people is a big part of what I try and do.

“I’m a firm believer that becoming involved in the arts can be not only life enhancing, not just life changing, it can actually be life saving on occasions too. It strikes me therefore that as artists and as foster carers, in some ways we’re in the same business: that of reaching out and touching people. Enhancing lives, changing lives, saving them, even. There are some amazing stories from the many quietly inspirational children and young people in foster care out there and we’d love to read them. Find a pen. Write down yours. Share it with pride. Storytelling:  it’s what we do.”

Author Cathy Cassidy said: “We are all made of stories, but writing those stories down gives us the chance to be seen, to be heard, to take ownership of our own lives and shape the way they unfold. Writing, whether it’s inspired by fact or purely fiction, is our way at getting to the heart of things, the truth of things… and that’s kind of awesome!”

Author Livi Michael said: “Inspiring Stories is a great opportunity for young people to see their work in print. Everyone who enters has a chance to launch themselves on a literary career! We aim to encourage talent, of course – but even the ones who don’t win can put on their writing CV that they have been brave, inspired and determined enough to enter a creative writing competition.”

Author Dan Worsley said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the judging panel for this fantastic competition. I spend a lot of my time encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure and write creatively because I believe they are two crucial life-skills. I’m super-excited about reading the entries and can’t wait to get started!”

Stories submitted can be a personal account of A fostering experience or an inspirational tale that needs to be told. Entries can be fiction, non-fiction, written or even drawn so that all ages can engage with the competition.

Children and young people can visit www.youcanfoster.org/competition to find out more and submit their stories which should be no longer than 800 words. The deadline for entries is 5.00pm, Friday November 17th 2017.

Jayne Ludlam, Executive Director of People Services, Sheffield Council said: “The ‘Inspiring Stories’ competition is about celebrating the creative and ambitious people who are, or have been, in foster care, by giving them the opportunity to tell their story. Not only do we want to hear their voices but we want to share their stories across the region by publishing them online. We hope that this will inspire other young people who are also in foster care. You Can Foster is focused on recruiting foster carers across the North West and Yorkshire to provide local children, teenagers and young adults with a supportive home where they can achieve their dreams and ambitions. We have a real need for more foster carers and we urge anyone who is interested to get in touch with their local authority.”

There are around 8,255 households across the North of England who foster for their local authority.

Across Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside there are around 11,525 children living in foster care.

For more information please visit http://youcanfoster.org/

This press release is issued on behalf of You Can Foster.