Leeds children in foster care invited to tell their Inspiring Stories

You Can Foster
Fostering is when someone looks after a child or young person who can’t live with their own family and is in the care of the local authority.

Leeds children who are in foster care are being encouraged to enter an inspirational new creative writing competition to tell their stories and encourage a new generation of adults to sign up as foster carers.

Developed by the award-winning ‘You Can Foster’ campaign the competition is open to children from all over the North of England and 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 will be judged across five age categories and 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 says:

“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 says:

“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 says:

“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 added:

“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.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member for children and families at Leeds City Council said:

“The ‘Inspiring Stories’ competition is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the creative and ambitious people who are, or have recently been, in foster care, by giving them the opportunity to tell their story. As part of our Child Friendly Leeds ambitions we want to give all children the chance to have their voices heard so we are encouraging Leeds children who are in foster care or who have recently left care, to take part in the competition. We hope that this will inspire other young people who are also in care and encourage more people to consider becoming a foster carer themselves.

“Leeds is part of the You Can Foster partnership which is focused on recruiting foster carers across Yorkshire and the North West 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.”

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.

Categories for entry are:
  • Fostered* children up to 8 years old
  • Fostered children 9-12
  • Fostered teenagers 13-17
  • Fostered young adults** 18 – 25
  • Birth children in fostering households – up to 18

Fostering is when someone looks after a child or young person who can’t live with their own family and is in the care of the local authority. There are a number of reasons they might not be able to live with their family and it can be a very difficult time for the child so they’ll needs lots of support and care. There are around 8,255 households across the North of England who foster for their local authority.

Across Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside there are around 11,525 children living in foster care. Local Authorities particularly need to recruit foster carers for certain groups of children including:

• Brothers and sisters

• Older children and young people

• Children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds

• Children that will be in foster care long term

• Children who need more specialist care

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

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, born in Liverpool, is a children’s fiction writer, screenwriter, academic and novelist. Frank’s books include award winning Millions and The Unforgotten Coat. Frank has also written a number of sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…Flies Again, The Race Against Time and Over the Moon.

Frank was the writer behind the 2012 Summer Olympics ceremony and has written for a number of television shows and screenplays including Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, The Claim, 24 Hour Party People and Code 46. Despite Frank’s huge success across TV, film and play’s Frank’s passion has always been children’s writing since realising he wanted to be an author at just 6 years old.

Tony Walsh aka Longfella from Salford, is “one of the UK’s most renowned performance poets” and a respected writer, workshop leader and community organiser. Longfella recently gained national acclaim for his poem ‘This is the place’ which brought the people of Manchester and indeed the country together after the Manchester Arena attack in May.

Standing out from the crowd at nearly two metres tall, Longfella has performed everywhere from The British Library to Glastonbury Festival. From schools, universities, prisons, conferences, festivals, museums and theatres to the magnificent Palace of Science and Culture in Warsaw, Poland as a guest of The British Council. Tony’s poetry has been published on both sides of the Atlantic as well as displayed with an LS Lowry image at both Tate Modern and The British Museum as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund “Best of British” exhibition. A multiple winner and finalist in top-level poetry slam competitions, Tony is the current Manchester Literature Festival Comedy Slam Champion and was the runner-up in “The Times” UK Allstars Slam Final at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2008.

Award winning author Livi Michael, was born in Manchester and grew up in Tameside where she found her love for writing at seven years old. Livi first started thinking up stories whilst growing up in a tower block in Ashton-Under-Lyne. Here Livi spent lots of time looking up at the moon and stars letting her imagination run wild.

Livi has written 7 novels for adults and 12 for children, including Whispering RoadUnder a Thin Moon, Frank the Black Hamster of Narkiz and Angel Stone.

Livi lives in Oldham and is a Senior Lecturer at MMU, teaching Creative Writing for Adults and Children. Livi has also taught at Sheffield Hallam University and has been Writing Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund at Lancaster and Leeds Universities.

Dan Worsley is a children’s author and performance storyteller from Blackpool. He spent fifteen years in his home town working as a primary school teacher before leaving his position in 2013 to focus on his passion for writing. Since then Dan has published four children’s books, performed his stories in a variety of locations and delivered countless writing sessions and author talks; engaging tens of thousands of children and promoting a love of reading and writing. Dan also spends a lot of his time visiting libraries and doing everything he can to support these vital community hubs.

Dan has written a sequel to his 2014 debut, Impossible Tales, as well as two stories about Eric Appleby’s adventures – Eric Appleby: Zero to Hero and Eric Appleby: Danger Zone.

Cathy Cassidy, crowned ‘the Queen of teen’, wrote her first picture book for her brother at 8 years old. Growing up Cathy enjoyed making comics too – pages of pictures, features and competitions. Later in life Cathy went to Art College in Liverpool, worked as fiction editor at Jackie Magazine and spent 12 years as an agony aunt for teen mag, Shout. Whilst Cathy has loved her roles in teaching and editing, her most favourite job is as a writer – she says ‘it’s the perfect excuse to daydream!’

Cathy has written over 30 books for teens and young adults, including Broken Heart Club, Daizy Star and the Pink Guitar and award winning Summer’s Dream and Scarlett.