Minding How You Go

Home Front non-fiction commission

A non-fiction writing commission
(update: You can find a menu of the work commissioned – updated periodically from early May, here) 

Calling budding young writers, thinkers and fledgling journalists… We’re excited to introduce Home Front, a micro-commission writing opportunity for young people aged 15 to 30 in South Yorkshire. Home Front seeks interesting non-fiction articles and opinion pieces on any topic responding, directly or indirectly, to the current world we find ourselves in…or the one waiting on the other wide.

In just over a month, we’ve been catapulted into a parallel universe normally only familiar to us in the realm of fiction – but here we are, in the middle of something big and scary, but also affirming with so many stories of hope and kindness.

With this strange new reality comes all sorts of coping strategies and behaviours, stockpiling loo roll, spying on neighbours, discovering our inner bakers. But also, with collective time on our hands, in a way we’ve never had before, many of us have been doing a lot of thinking. It’s this thinking we’re after. Home Front seeks to give a platform to the thoughts and voices of young people living through this unsettling time.

All we need from you is a pitch (no more than 250 words) outlining what non-fiction subject you’d like to write about and how you might approach it. Don’t worry if your mind is boggling at narrowing down what that might be, or if you’re new to writing non-fiction. Read on!

Firstly, what do you get if your pitch is chosen?
We’ll receive advice and editorial guidance, a small fee (known when the number of commissions is decided) and, of course, publication. This is a great opportunity for CVs, and for those interested in making more of writing like this in the future. Plus, you’re bound to learn stuff along the way.

What we’re after@
We’re keen to hear a mix of perspectives, insights, inspirations, reflections, opinions, interesting bits of research, perhaps even a quote or two (it might even be from your grandad, or a group you feel isn’t normally heard). We’re not after formal essays with grade-focused conclusions, we’re looking for engaging reads that everyone can enjoy (or question!). We want your work to speak passionately and clearly on a subject that interests you, because if it interests you, it will interest others. It can be hard-hitting, funny, informative, thought-proving, advice-giving. You get the drift – anything goes!

Deadline for pitches: As soon as possible! We’ll only be commissioning a small number of pieces and we’ll be closing the window on midnight 28th April,  so don’t delay, get your pitch in as soon as you can.


  • A pitch no longer than 250 words (We recommend reading ‘How to pitch’ and ‘Subject Matter’ below before you write your pitch)
  • Send to: pitch@hivesouthyorkshire.com with your name, age, the town you live in and the subject line: ‘Home Front’
  • If you’re outside of South Yorkshire, but in the not too distance north and really want to pitch, go on then, we’d still love to heard from you.

How to pitch

Your article pitch should be no longer than 250 words showing us what you’d like to write about and how you’ll approach it. These micro-commissions are limited so we’re looking to see real and interesting engagement in subjects. Think about some of the below and lace what is relevant into your pitch (don’t worry if you don’t hit all the points)…

  • Zoom into your subject interest – don’t try tackling everything under one subject – what’s your angle, interest, purpose for writing? A fresh, creative perspective on a known topic is always good, but think about whether you’re looking to give a balanced view, or if your piece is all out opinion. Is there an overriding question you want to explore?
  • What kinds of things might people get from reading your piece, e.g. informed humour, little known facts, a personal insight?
  • Stick to the basics and keep any summaries brief. We are after the gist and a sense of the shape you might go with it. Mention a few points you’ll make in the body of your article.
  • You might also want to think about the form you’ll write in if you plan to take a more creative approach. You could, for example, do a top ten piece, a speech, or an open letter.
  • Consider research. Might there be facts, stats or studies to reinforce your ideas. You might want to mention this at pitch stage or even name some of your info sources.
  • If you can think of a great title or intro grabber, include it.

Subject Matter
We’re open to any subject, whether it directly relates to our current world situation, or it has come out of thinking at this time.

Here are some example ideas which you’d be welcome to work with, but really, the call is completely open. Remember, your idea doesn’t have to relate directly to the current pandemic. As long as you can make a small link, we’d like to hear them!

  • Advice on how to cope during lockdown; your own experiences of social distancing; how your community has reacted, difficulties faced by a particular group
  • Testing times always bring change. But for the better or the worse? Some believe the pandemic will lead to a better society and future. Others fear it may make existing injustices worse. Maybe you’d like to tell us what you’d like to see in a post-Covid world or solutions you see for a better one.
  • The Great Depression and the second world war brought about the modern welfare state. What good could come from the Covid pandemic, or what suggestions do you want to see? Any parallels you know from other historical events we can learn from? This might be a good angle for the history buffs out there.
  • After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, surveillance culture exploded. Can you see any other necessary, or unnecessary controls coming in a post-Covid world?
  • Whenever crisis messes with the systems we live by, their reality is laid bare. Who are the haves and have-nots? What really matters, and what doesn’t? What infrastructures do we rely on that we don’t normally notice? What realisations have we made?
  • Gratitude – many of us have a new appreciation for what we have. What’s your take on this and what does it bring?
  • Large swathes of people worldwide are working in collaboration to stay in, save lives, and in the case of Britain, protect the NHS. What does collaboration mean and remind us of?
  • Mental health in Lockdown. How to cope with worry, catastrophising and spiralling thoughts.

Photo: Fabio Barbato | Isolation

Hive Young Writers Competition 2020

Our groups are online!

Hello! Just a quick note to say… we are running our regular group creative writing sessions online for the time being. If you’re a young person, 14 to 30 in South Yorkshire, we have a number of sessions happening for different ages and areas. Just get in touch with your name, age, where you’re based and your writing interests. Don’t worry about your level of writing. All welcome!

We use Crowdcast which is live video from the writer leading, and you interact via a messenger feed (so there is no need to be on video, although it is possible to be invited on 🙂

Interested? Email us! info@hivesouthyorkshire.com 

A message of support

Hello to all of our members, to everyone who’s been involved with us over the years, and to new people who might have found us after looking for something to do. We want to wish everyone wellness, calmness, and safety right now.

Although our usual Hive activities are on hold, we are currently looking at exciting ways we can take what we do online. We’re testing out Zoom and other ways of delivering workshops so sessions for our regular groups won’t be missed entirely, and we have a few competitions in the pipeline – here’s one, hot off the press, Love Sheffield’s Hive New Writer Prize (in partnership with Sheffield Libraries), and there’s a Yorkshire-wide one coming soon with some fab judges. We also have other ideas we’re hoping to make happen. Follow us on socials to stay in the loop. We’ll also repost other wider support, resources and opportunities as we see them.

For those of you who’ve been thinking about giving writing a go, or those who might have been toying with writing a novel or editing poetry for a competition or collection, now is a good time to get that underway. If you’re aged 14 to 30 in South Yorkshire or nearby and interested in writing, do get in touch. We are a tiny team (unlike in this fab photo!) but we will help however we can: info@hivesouthyorkshire.com

At some point, the world will go back to normal (likely a new normal and hopefully a better and kinder one where we’ve had some time to reflect and we appreciate what we have more than ever).

Stay safe,  stay your lovely, creative selves and look out for writing happenings 🙂

Hive x

Photo title: Staff at Work. Typists. Head Office typists room, 3rd Floor, Wellington Station. October 1959. Wellington.
Photographer: Le Cren.
Archival Reference: AAVK W3493 B Series_B6561
Transferred to Archives New Zealand from the New Zealand Railways Corporation.

Love Sheffield Writing Competition

In these testing times for all of us, writing can really help, from relieving boredom and offering focus, to testing new ideas and honing skills. We’re teamed up with Sheffield Year of Reading on this fab competition offering writers and non-writers of all ages a creative outlet over the next few months.

There are three age categories and Hive is supporting the middle Hive New Writer Prize – aimed at young writers (14-19) who aren’t currently accessing Hive groups and workshops. Don’t worry, if that’s not you, we have something coming for you too soon.

Check out info below and expect some prompt, tips and tricks support added to this page when the competition officially opens on 1st April.
Sheffield Libraries are delighted to announce the Love Sheffield, Luv competition in association with Hive South Yorkshire (open to everyone living, or working, in Sheffield). We want to hear about the things you love about Sheffield – and that theme can be interpreted any way you like.

You might want to write about a place that only you know about. Something you’re proud of. Maybe you’d like to show aliens around our city. If you’re in Sheffield it could be anything about you! Or a memory you cherish. Maybe you’d like to make up a story set in Sheffield, past, present, or somewhere in the distant future.

‘The best thing about being a writer is we can write about whatever we want. We make things up! No-one needs to know if it’s true or not!’ – Nik Perring (author)

Poems, script, and stories are all welcome.
PRIZES will include £100 in book vouchers for each category, publication in the Year of Reading Anthology, or Children’s Anthology, with winners invited to perform at a special event.

Age categories

Children’s Year of Reading Explorer Prize – Up to 13 years
Entrants, or teachers and guardians, are invited to submit young people’s best work using the theme of Exploration to spark ideas.
Up to 400 words or up to 2 poems

Hive New Writer Prize – 14-19 years
Open to 14-19 year olds who aren’t currently accessing Hive groups and workshops.
As part of Year of Reading, Hive are looking to discover and showcase new talent.
If you’re a secret scribbler, part-time poet, closet novelist, or someone who fancies giving writing a go, we want to read your stuff!
Up to 800 words or 3 poems
In addition to publication in the Year of Reading Anthology, winners will also receive a one to one session with Nik Perring.

Sheffield Year of Reading Writing Prize – 20 years & above
Up to 1000 words or 3 poems on the theme of Exploration.
No upper age limit.

Opens: April 1st 
Deadline: July 31st 2020

Please submit your entries to

Ready? Set? Write!

Spring Young Writers Open Mic

CANCELED until further notice due to coronavirus. Stay positive and look out for each other.
We’re hoping to do a bit more online writing stuff soon to keep pens in hands and creative muscles moving 🙂
Young Writers’ Open Mic (aged 14-30)
Fri 3rd April 2020 | 7.30pm – 10pm (doors open 7.10pm)
Where: SHU Performance Lab  Arundel Gate, Sheffield S1 2LQ (4 minutes for Sheffield train station)
Facebook event here | Street view here
£1 minimum donation (We are asking for a little support to help us keep doing what we do)

We’re calling you … young people (14-30s) from across South Yorkshire and nearby! If you write poems, tell stories, compose lyrics, play guitar or have anything else to say out loud to a supportive audience, this is an evening to celebrate your words and talents in a warm atmosphere.

Open to all, both new & experienced performers.
Sign up for a definite slot! openmic@hivesouthyorkshire.com 

Hosted by poet and BBC Radio Sheffield’s The Vibe presenter…Sile Sibanda
A partnership with Sheffield Hallam UniversityVerse Matters

Barnsley Young Writers Programme

Although this is cancelled until further notice, please get in touch if it sounds of interest!
We’re running a 6-week young writers programme in Barnsley and we want you!

Aimed at young people who want to try creative writing outside of school or college, and find out about what opportunities are available for young writers in South Yorkshire and beyond.

You don’t have to think you’re a great writer to join us, you just need an interest in writing and a willingness to try new things. Everyone is welcoming, accepting and supportive of each other in the Hive network. It’s a great place to just be yourself and find out about further opportunities in the region and beyond. You can hear more about the group from young writers themselves here.

Try different writing forms like short story, poetry, novel tips, script, blogging, comedy, spoken word. And get great tips and advice from two professional writers running different sessions.

Note this programme runs from 23rd March to 4th May 2020, places limited so get in touch soon. If you can’t make every session, that’s fine, let us know. Running weekly (aside from an Easter break) on a Monday 5-7pm (sometimes earlier). Finishes before exams in May or June!

Who & what are our groups & programmes for?
We welcome young people of all interests, abilities and backgrounds who enjoy any form of writing. Our sessions are about sparking ideas and exploring the power of words through creative writing exercises and techniques rather than obsessing over spelling and grammar (although that’s something we can help with too if you like). They’re also about being a fun part of a young writers’ community and the opportunities that come with it.

Interested? Email us with your name, age, writing interests to:info@hivesouthyorkshire.com
See other current opportunities for South Yorkshire young writers here

Supported by The Civic Barnsley and Barnsley Libraries

Exploring Fiction

Open to all 18-30s interested in writing or publishing any forms of fiction
All levels and experience welcome | FREE
Wednesday 4th March | 5:30-8pm | Sheffield Central Children’s Library

Sheffield’s Year of Reading writer in residence, Nik Perring, shares tips, tricks, and industry hints, covering all aspects of writing fiction (short story, novella, novel). There’ll be exercises to generate ideas, ways to expand and improve what you already have, and how to make your stories last the distance.

By the end of this masterclass you’ll know about shaping a story into something editors and publishers want, or how to finish something you’ve started so it’s the best it can be. (Note: You may be asked to email a story you’ve been working on before the workshop but haven’t something isn’t essential).

To book: info@hivesouthyorkshire.com

In partnership with Sheffield Year of Reading 2020 | Sheffield Libraries

Sheffield Year of Reading 2020 is a 12 month, citywide celebration of creativity and the written word. Reading is the key that unlocks the door to life’s riches. It helps us feel better, discover more, and unleashes our individual creativity. This year people from across our city will come together in libraries, pubs, schools, living rooms, museums, parks, and many other venues to share the simple joy of words. It will be literary and silly, it will be big and small, it will be on the page and in the streets. In fact, it can be whatever you want it to be. There are lots of ways you can get involved. Make it yours!

We are delighted to announce Nik Perring, author and short story writer, as our Writer in Residence for our Year of Reading. Nik, with over fifteen years’ experience teaching writing across all ages and venues – community hubs, schools, universities, the BBC and, of course, libraries – will undertake a programme of workshops across the city during the year, creating a platform for new writers, young and old, unpublished writers, and groups within the city. Through his residency Nik will support people to be heard and celebrated, boosting mental health and wellbeing through all things writing.

There will be loads of exciting events for all ages and abilities added throughout the year. Watch this space to see how you can be involved, and check the website [www.sheffield.gov.uk/yearofreading], for more details!

Nik Perring is the author of five books (for children and adults) and a prize-winning short story writer with work appearing all over the world. He’s also Writer in Residence for Sheffield’s Year of Reading 2020 and a key writing facilitator and mentor for Hive South Yorkshire. Nik edits and teachers writing for all ages and abilities in primary and high schools, universities, colleges, community hubs, the BBC and libraries. www.nikperring.com

The Perks of Young Adult Fiction

Although this is cancelled until further notice, please get in touch if it sounds of interest – we will be rescheduling!
Stay positive and look out for each other.
We’re hoping to do a bit more online writing stuff soon to keep pens in hands and creative muscles moving 🙂

Hive Young Writers’ Day
Writing young adult fiction that flies off the page – with award-winning Young Adult fiction writer Paula Rawsthorne
Sat 28th March 2020 – 10.30am – 4.30 pm | Venue: Sheffield Institute of Education, Charles Street, S1 2ND [3mins from train station] Open to young people aged 14 – 26 years from across the region

Drawing on the strengths and driving elements of this genre, join multi-award-winning writer, Paula Rawsthorne, for a day of writing and exploring all things Young Adult fiction. From finding inspiration for stories to pitches and plotting.

You’ll think about the books you love and look at what distinguishes YA fiction from other forms and what to consider in the mix of a great YA novel, such as first-person narration versus third-person, creating characters, pace and story arches.

There’ll be exercises to get you writing and thinking, and Paula will give advice and tips to help you strengthen you own stories and ideas, and insights into how she wrote her award-winning books and got published.

This writers’ day has a focus on Young Adult fiction but will be of interest to young writers of any experience with an interest in any kind of fiction. You might have a story you’re developing on the go, or you might be looking for inspiration to plot a new one!

Cost: £6/£4 concessions, including refreshments (but not lunch)
Discounts: Hive is keen to encourage young people who wouldn’t normally access this type of opportunity, and there are always discounts available for a number of tickets to support individuals who may be unable to pay in full, or to support travel costs within the region. Get in touch ASAP before places fill up if that sounds like you.

Booking: To book a place on this Writers’ Day, email: info@hivesouthyorkshire.com
Where: The Institute of Education, Charles Street Sheffield. This is just off Arundel Gate and Arundel Street, 5 minutes from Sheffield train & bus stations.
Someone will be there to greet people at the reception from 10.15am. Charles Street Building info here
Google map info here: 133 Charles Street, Sheffield S1 2ND

Paula Rawsthorne is a multi-award-winning writer of Young Adult fiction. She discovered that she could write when she won a national BBC writing competition and her comic tale, The Sermon on the Mount was read by Bill Nighy on Radio 4. Her dark stories for adults have been published in anthologies of contemporary literature. Her first YA novel, The Truth about Celia Frost, was a winner of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Undiscovered Voices. Published by Usborne, it was shortlisted for eleven literary awards and won the Leeds, Sefton and Nottingham Book Awards.  Her second novel, Blood Tracks, won the Rib Valley Book Award.

Paula’s short stories for teenagers have been commissioned by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and published in an anthology of award-winning Young Adult authors. Paula’s third YA novel, Shell, (Scholastic 2018) won the North East Teen Book Award, The Derbyshire Schools’ Book Award and The Hampshire Book Award.  Her latest Black Mirror-esque YA novel, The New Boy, was published last year.

Paula is invited to do author visits in schools throughout the UK and is a writer in residence for the literacy charity, ‘First Story’. She lives in Nottingham with her husband and three children who are all much taller than her.

Find out more about Paula and her books: www.paularawsthorne.wordpress.com or on Twitter @paularawsthorne 

Hive Young Writers’ Days
Hive Young Writers’ Days are a chance for young writers, whatever your interest and ability, to develop your writing with support from professional writers, while meeting other young writers, and getting involved in the Hive young writers’ network.

Hive Young Writers’ Days are open to young people 14 to 26 (the age range changes sometimes). If you don’t quite fit, but you’d like to come, get in touch with: info@hivesouthyorkshire.com)

Supported by Sheffield Hallam University Faculty of Development & Society