A novel idea as author and Ardoyne youth organisation launch ‘Children of Lockdown’ story competition


North Belfast writer Paul McVeigh, above, and Ardoyne Youth Enterprise are running a ‘Children of Lockdown’ story competition for children and young people who live in Belfast and surrounding areas.

The competition will be judged by Paul McVeigh, and the winning stories will be published on Ardoyne Youth Enterprise social media and website. Paul is the author of The Good Son, a novel about growing up in the 1980s in north Belfast.

Paul McVeigh said: “I can’t wait to read your stories. Lockdown Belfast style. I wonder what stories about it you can come up with. Could you have imagined this happening? What can you imagine now? What other ways do you think the world could change? What do you think the future holds for these children of lockdown?”

There are three categories:

  • aged up to 11 – write a story or poem about life in Coronavirus-Land, or on any theme that inspires you. Maximum 500 words.
  • 12 to 15-year-old – write a short story inspired by your experience as a young person in Covid-19 times, or imagining a post-Covid-19 world – or on any theme that inspires you. Maximum 750 words.
  • 16 to 24-year-old – write a Covid-19 inspired short story – or a story on any theme that inspires you. Maximum 1,000 words.

All stories to be submitted to: communication@ardoyne.org by Sunday, September 27, 5pm. Entrants must include their name, an email address, phone number, postal address and age. Under 18s need parental consent to publish their story.

Each category will have an overall winner who will receive:

  • a special reading by Paul McVeigh for their school, youth group or a group of their choice (for the over 16s, Paul can offer a personal one-hour mentoring session if they prefer);
  • a £40 book token from No Alibis bookshop for themselves, donated by Paul;
  • a family ticket to Belfast zoo for the under 12 winner;  voucher for two under 16 plus one adult visit to Titanic Museum for 12 to 15 winner; a copy of The Good Son and cinema (or drive-in cinema) tickets for the over 16 winner.

There will be additional prizes for second and third place in each category, donated by Ardoyne Youth Enterprise, Ardbone Festival, Bright Ideas North Belfast, New Lodge Arts and more. 

Catherine Couvert, communications officer at Ardoyne Youth Enterprise, said: This year, children and young people have been living in a strange world, as weird as some of the stories they read in children’s books and young adult fiction, whether fairy tale, sci-fi, adventure, utopia or horror story. We think this is the perfect time for them to be inspired to write a story of their own.”

• Paul McVeigh has recently recorded  a series of short online readings from his novel for Ardoyne Youth Enterprise. You can find them here: YouTube/Ardoyne Youth Enterprise/Paul McVeigh – The Good Son. More about Paul McVeigh and The Good Son here: paulmcveighwriter.com.

• Ardoyne Youth Enterprise is a youth and community development organisation based in Ardoyne, North Belfast. More about Ardoyne Youth Enterprise here: www.ardoyne.org.