Mixing Roots – for young voices of colour

Are you a young person of colour in South Yorkshire or nearby, aged 14 to 25 (or thereabouts)?
Interested in creative writing and the power of words? Mixing Roots is back! 

In August and September, award-winning Sheffield writer and poet, Warda Yassin (and guest writers & creatives Danae Wellington & Sile Sibanda) will be running a new Mixing Roots programme of free creative writing & inspiration workshops for young people of colour and dual heritage from across South Yorkshire.

Everyone is warmly welcome – from bookworms to the mildly curious!  And we’re particularly keen to hear from those who might feel a bit isolated right now with the world upside down. No experience is needed, and you don’t have to think you’re a great writer to attend – you just need an interest in words, a tablet or computer with an internet connection, and to virtually turn up and have fun!

Warda will help you build confidence in your own voice in a safe and supportive environment.  You’ll be encouraged to write about all kinds of things including what really matters to you, from the serious to the celebratory. You’ll also find out about writing and creative opportunities in your area that you might not know about, and get loads of great advice and tips about creative careers.

Beyond the programme, we hope to continue the project in the real world, and through working with partners like Nyara and the Lit Collective, bringing young people together from lots of different backgrounds and places in the region, and finding interesting ways to showcase and celebrate the voices of young people of colour.

We’re seeking partnership and funding support to enable us to take Mixing Roots further to help young people of colour reach their potential. We would like to produce a podcast and publication. We had a very successful Mixing Roots publication at the end of 2019 and would love to raise money to do this again.

Expect relaxed and fun sessions. And just to say, it’s not a requirement of the workshops that participants need to stay visible on video (or to use audio) after check-in/safeguarding considerations.

Start date: 27th August 1.30pm, and you’ll decide on further dates as a group.
In Oct there’ll also be sessions with:
*Sile Sibanda on Radio Presenting: Talk, Q&A and tips – From spoken word to spoken host – how I became a radio presenter and event host.
*Danae Wellington: Workshop theme to be confirmed – around stories and cultures from homelands, myths and beliefs.

To book, email: warda@hivesouthyorkshire.com as soon as possible | Places limited, don’t miss out!
Warda is also running Creative Writing for bi-lingual tongues workshops as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words 27th Oct.

Supported by: Nyara School of Arts An African and African-Caribbean Performing Arts School based in Sheffield, celebrating the richness & beauty of the Black experience.
The Lit Collective (TLC) 
a book club in Sheffield for young womxn of colour (14-18) to read books by womxn of colour. This July they organised their first online festival dedicated to centring and celebrating womxn writers of colour. For more on their amazing festival visit tlcsheffield.com

About the Mixing Roots writers & creatives

Warda Yassin is a British Somali poet and English teacher. She writes about her Somali heritage and community and in 2018 was a winner of the New Poets Prize. Her debut pamphlet Tea with Cardamom came out with The Poetry Business in 2019. Warda has been a part of the South Yorkshire writers network (now Hive) for 8 years and recognises from her own experience, how it can support young people to reach their potential.

Danae Wellington is a Jamaican British writer, poet and advocate for healing through the creative arts, specifically through the fusion of poetry, storytelling, music and theatre. She’s been published in several anthologies and has performed widely at places like the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival and Sheaf Poetry Festival. In 2018 she set up Nyara School of Arts, a project aimed at creatively supporting young people from African Diaspora backgrounds.

Sile Sibanda is a British Zimbabwean poet, spoken word performer, and radio presenter. As well as being an active part of the Hive community, she has hosted open mics and events for Hive over the last few years and is loved by everyone for her warmth and encouragement of young voices. Sile hails from Rotherham and in 2019 she won the BBC Radio Sheffield ‘This is Me’ presenting competition and subsequently became the host of The Vibe on BBC Radio Sheffield.

Naomi Thomas BBC Short Story Award Congratulations!

A massive congratulations to 17-year-old Sheffield Young Writer’s Naomi Thomas, one of five shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Short Story Award 2020 with First Story and Cambridge University

‘The Battle of Trafalgar Square’ by Naomi Thomas: Described by judges as ‘a punch in the face of a story, in the best possible way,’ an ordinary commute on a crowded tube train is transformed into a surreal and darkly, comic experience when a woman has an unexpected and shocking accident. Written as practice for Naomi’s English Language GCSE, the story exposes both the good and bad in human nature via a short story that highlights the power of the form to ‘give us a complete literary experience in and of itself’. An avid short story writer, Naomi was Highly Commended in the Young Northern Writers’ Awards 2020.

Open to 13 – 18-year-olds, the aim of this Award is to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers and is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1. The shortlist was announced on Radio 1’s Life Hacks on Sunday 20th September 2020. The winner will also be announced on 6th October on Front Row on Radio 4.

You can listen to The Battle of Trafalgar Square below (read by The End of the F***ing World actress Jessica Barden!) and all of the shortlisted here: www.bbc.co.uk/ywa

Congratulations also to the following stories and shortlisted:
‘Winds that Travel Across’ by Maleeha Faruki
‘Three Pomegranate Seeds’ by Mei Kawagoe
‘Bingo Tuesdays’ by Ben Marshall
‘The Changeling’ by Lottie Mills

Giving voice to the ‘othered’ and reclaiming narratives dominates a ‘deeply impressive’ shortlist for the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, announced live on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks today (Sunday 20 September).

From the tender relationship between a boy and his grandmother inspired by family experience of Alzheimer’s, to a feminist reclaiming of the Greek myth of Persephone; from the memory and stories of a first-generation Indian immigrant, to a celebration of ‘otherness’ and the transformative power of difference, via a darkly comic exploration of humanity in a crowded tube carriage: the five sophisticated stories, penned by writers aged 15 to 18 were praised by the judges for their ‘startling confidence’ and ‘deeply impressive’ range of subject matter and style.

Practising for GCSE English Language papers inspired two finalists to write, with one, Ben Marshall, never having written a short story before outside of the classroom. The shortlist also sees the return of 2018 finalist Lottie Mills – a second-year English Literature student at Cambridge University – for her ‘genuine triumph’ of a story inspired by her #OwnVoices experience of disability and her frustration at how difference is represented.

Katie Thistleton, Chair of the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel, says: “Congratulations to our five shortlisted writers and thank you to everyone who entered the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award. This year has been an unsettling one for young people and writing has proved a powerful way to explore complex feelings and emotions. Gaining insight into the minds of teenagers and what they care about through their writing has never seemed so vital. I hope this year’s entries will inspire others.”

The five shortlisted stories, each under 1000 words, will be read by actors including Hollyoaks and Derry Girls actor Dylan Llewelyn, The End of the F***ing World actress Jessica Barden, and comedian and actress, Nimisha Odedra and broadcast by BBC Radio 1 and available on BBC Sounds. They will also be available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website. The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Tuesday 6 October.

The BBC Young Writers’ Award has a reputation for identifying the short story stars of the future. Shortlisting for this prize is a stepping-stone for writing success, with one of Lottie Mills’ fellow 2018 cohort, Reyah Martin, winning the 2020 Canada/Europe Commonwealth Short Story Prize aged just 20. In 2019, inaugural YWA winner Brennig Davies secured a place to study English Literature at Oxford University and won the coveted Crown literary prize at the Urdd Eisteddfod – a Welsh language cultural festival.

Antonia Byatt, CEO, First Story says: “Congratulations to the shortlisted young writers this year. What they have achieved is totally impressive – sophisticated dexterity, finely tuned sensitivity and a bold engagement with contemporary issues all stand out strongly in these stories. It’s warming, too, to see that creative writing in the GCSE curriculum has been a starting point for some of them, something it is important not to lose as schools concentrate on curriculum recovery this year. This years’ shortlistees are clearly all very committed writers and have great writing careers in front of them.”

Dr Sarah Dillon, Faculty of English, Cambridge University, says: “The BBC Young Writers’ Award is such a crucial way of identifying and amplifying the voices of some of the UK’s best young short story writers. This year’s shortlist reassures that the form is alive and well with the younger generation. The stories reveal how some of today’s most challenging contemporary issues are feeding these young people’s imaginations and how, through writing and reading, experiences of hate, horror, frustration and despair can be transformed into sites of hope, humour and aspiration for a future this generation want to create, not just inherit.”

ABOUT THE AWARD: This is the sixth year of the BBC Young Writers’ Award which invites all 14 – 18-year-olds living in the United Kingdom to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words. The award was launched as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations for the BBC National Short Story Award and aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers. Previous winners are Brennig Davies Georgie Woodhead (2019) Davina Bacon (2018) (2015) Elizabeth Ryder (2017) Lizzie Freestone (2016)
Partners: BBC, First Story & Cambridge University

Hive at Off the Shelf Festival of Words

It’s that time of year again – it can only be… the Off the Shelf Festival of Words! With both live and online readings, performances, workshops and talks, there’s an amazing line-up for this year’s festival (9th – 31th October). As always, Hive and Hive writers are honoured to be part of the action.

We were excited the festival fell at half-term this year as we hoped to tie it in again with one of our buzzing live literature events, but, sadly due to C19 this won’t be possible. No fear, there’s still a fab range of Hive-related happenings! You can browse the wonderful full programme array of events here. And read on for what we’ll be getting up to….

We’re so proud of Hive Poet Warda Yassin for all she’s achieving and this autumn she’s busy doing various events at the festival including a reading with UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage on 11 Oct. What’s more it’s a drive-in event – yes, book by the car!

On the 12th Oct, Warda’s also going to be in conversation with Sheffield’s former mayor Magid Magid and poet/rapper/philosopher Otis Mensah. At this event, rather excitingly, Warda will be introduced as Sheffield Poet Laureate for the next two years! We are so excited about seeing Warda representing the city and inspiring others!

And on 27th Oct, Warda will be running two Creative Writing for Bi-lingual Tongues workshops (1pm and 4pm) for young people of dual heritage aged 14-19 and 20-24 years. And they’re FREE!

Also on 27th Oct we’re thrilled two emerging young poets from the Hive network  – Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, 18 and Georgie Woodhead, 17 – will be giving support readings of work from their forthcoming debut New Poets pamphlets alongside the mighty Roger Robinson.

On 30th Oct we have the festival’s annual Youth Word Up, but this year, a little different! Our usual live collaborative event at the festival, with its accompanying publication, has turned into… a podcast! This time around we’re working with the Young People in Care Council, Sheffield Young Carers, and Chilypep. They will be joined by emerging young writers from the HIVE network.

And on the last day of the festival, 31st Oct, we’ve got a real treat for you, a special Mastering Monologues – with the very talented John Rwoth-Omack (Far Gone), in a jam-packed two-part masterclass for young writers and actors – all experience levels welcome – from hobby to career interest. You’ll explore writing and acting tips and advice, from one-man-shows to nailing affecting monologues. Then you’ll collaboratively WRITE a monologue John will go on to perform in a follow on podcast. This could be your first production credit! Expect a warm, relaxed atmosphere and many insights from one of Sheffield’s finest actors.

For all events and happening click here and get involved!
For the full Off the Shelf programme click here

A huge thank you to Off the Shelf Festival of Words for their ongoing partnership & support year after year.

Warda Yassin at Off the Shelf Festival of Words in October

We’re so proud of Hive Poet Warda Yassin for all she gets up to and this autumn she’s very busy doing various events at Off the Shelf Festival of Words including a reading with UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage on 11 Oct. What’s more it’s a drive-in event – yes, book by the car!

On the 12th Oct Warda’s also going to be in conversation with Sheffield’s former mayor Magid Magid and Otis Mensah. At this event, rather excitingly, Warda will be introduced as Sheffield Poet Laureate for the next two years! We are so excited about seeing Warda representing the city and inspiring others!

Image

And on 27th Oct, Warda will be running two Creative Writing for Bi-lingual Tongues workshops (1pm and 4pm) for young people of dual heritage aged 14-19 and 20-24 years. And they’re FREE!

Warda also currently runs Mixing Roots – writing workshops for young people of colour. More info here.

If you’re a young person who would really like to experience any of these events but don’t have the means or have any questions, get in touch.

Mastering Monologues – for young writers & actors

Join acclaimed actor, John Rwoth-Omack (Far Gone), in a jam-packed two-part masterclass for young writers and actors – all experience levels welcome – from hobby to career interest. Over two 90-minute sessions, you’ll explore acting and writing tips and advice, from one-man-shows to nailing affecting monologues.

You’ll then go on to contribute your ideas and writing to a real monologue John will edit together and perform in a follow on podcast! This could be your first production credit! Expect a warm, relaxed atmosphere (all experience levels encouraged) and many insights from one of Sheffield’s finest actors.

Date: Sat 31st Oct 11am (two 90 min sessions with a break)
Where: TBC – online
Suitable for 15 to 26 years – all experience levels and interests welcome across South Yorkshire & nearby
Places must be booked: Tickets £5
To reserve a place: kate@hivesouthyorkshire.com
Facebook event

Organised by Hive South Yorkshire in partnership with Off the Shelf

John Rwoth-Omack is a Ugandan born, London trained, and Sheffield bred and based actor, director & playwright. He trained as an actor at Rose Bruford College of Performing Arts.

Since he has worked as an actor in the following; FAR GONE (Sheffield Theatres 2020 & Theatre Deli Sheffield 2019), H&P, On Missing, (The Cockpit Theatre, London 2019), Dr Bupe, Tales From the Playground, (Paper Finch Theatre, Sheffield 2018), Priest, The Devil in Mary (short film York, 2017), Witch Doctor, The Emporer Jones, (The Lost Theatre, London 2016), John Blanke, The Low Road, (Stratford Circus, London 2015).

John is the writer of the much-acclaimed FAR GONE which follows a young boy’s journey from childhood innocence to child soldier. In 2018 John debuted as a theatre director with the successful production of Paul Sirett’s Bad Blood Blues at Theatre Deli. As an assistant director, John worked with Gbolahan Obisesan on The Last King of Scotland. He also worked with Sheffield Crucible Theatre resident company Utopia Theatre on I am David Oluwale, Shadows in Different Shades and SoAfrica Festival.
Website: https://jrwothomack.com

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 poets support Roger Robinson at Off the Shelf Festival

We’re thrilled two emerging young poets from the Hive network  – Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, 18 and Georgie Woodhead, 17 – will be giving support readings of work from their forthcoming debut pamphlets alongside the mighty Roger Robinson at Off the Shelf Festival of Words on 27th Oct. 

Watch again here.

Chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon over the past 50 years, Roger Robinson’s latest collection A Portable Paradise is the winner of the TS Elliot Poetry Prize 2019 and the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2020.  These powerful poems express a fierce anger against injustice, but also convey the irrepressible sense that Robinson cannot help but love people for their humour, oddity and generosity of spirit.

His poems are deep, mature, moving and inventive – Bernadine Evaristo for New Statesman

Both Lauren and Georgie are New Poets Prize 2020 winners, whose debut pamphlets will be published by the Poetry Business in 2021. Among many other accolades, they are also both previous recipients of Foyle Year Poet of the Year and the Young Northern Writers Award.  Georgie won the BBC Young Writer of the Year 2019 and Lauren will be Young Poet in Residence at Sheaf Poetry Festival later this year. Praise for their work:

Hollingsworth–Smith’s poems are immediately and joyfully readable even at their darkest, and Ugly Bird is full of masterful juxtapositions, emotional swerves and perfect details. It’s such a skill to navigate these waters with such attentiveness; defiant, ecstatic powers of observation transfiguring the ordinary with wit and self-awareness.” Luke Kennard on Lauren’s collection, Ugly Bird


Takeaway is a vivid and powerful collection. Expansive but precise lines and stanzas give Woodhead the space to explore the lives and scenes she depicts. So many of the images here are breathtaking and will really stay with me. Uncompromising in its depiction of brutalities without ever sacrificing the humanity and compassion of the poet’s vision.” – Luke Kennard on Georgie’s collection, Takeaway

You do not need to book for this event.  Simply click on the link which will appear on this page.
Facebook event

She Will Soar Anthology

‘A stunning book featuring 130 poems about wanderlust, freedom and escape written by women’.

We’re so excited that New Poets Prize 2020 winner, Lauren Hollingsworth Smith, at just 18 years old, will be published in a new anthology of female poets, alongside talents such as Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols and Mary Jean Chan. She Will Soar (Pan MacMillan) edited and compiled by Ana Sampson is due out on 17th September 2020.

For several years Lauren has been a member of Hive Poetry collective and Rotherham Young Writers. She’s a recipient of the Young Northern Writers Award and was a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2019. Lauren has recently joined the Writing Squad. Her debut pamphlet Ugly Bird will be published by the Poetry Business in 2021.

More about She Will Soar

With poems from classic, well-loved poets as well as innovative and bold modern voices, She Will Soar is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf. From the ancient world right up to the present day, it includes poems on wanderlust, travel, daydreams, flights of fancy, escaping into books, tranquillity, courage, hope and resilience. From frustrated housewives to passionate activists, from servants and suffragettes to some of today’s most gifted writers, here is a bold choir of voices demanding independence and celebrating their hard-won power.

Immerse yourself in poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Christina Rossetti, Stevie Smith, Sarah Crossan, Emily Dickinson, Salena Godden, Mary Jean Chan, Charly Cox, Nikita Gill, Fiona Benson, Hollie McNish and Grace Nichols to name but a few.

Buy She Will Soar

Creative Writing for bi-lingual tongues

Join award-winning British-Somali poet, Warda Yassin, for a writing workshop exploring all things language. Warda will encourage you to use the words you love from the tongues you speak (or maybe know only a little of!) and write in the dialects, and even the slang, that matters to you. Participants also have the opportunity to edit and record a piece for a follow on podcast. All levels of writing experience and interests welcome across two age groups and sessions. Expect and warm, supportive and relaxed atmosphere.

Suitable for young people of dual heritage aged 14-19 years and 20-30years for in South Yorkshire
(if you’re interested and outside the South Yorkshire region, get in touch anyway and we will try and fit you in)

Warda also runs Mixing Roots – writing workshops for young people of colour. More info here.
FREE:  Places are limited & must be booked
Date: 
Tues 27 Oct 1-3pm (14-19s) & (20-30s) to be rescheduled – do get in touch if you’re interested!
Where: online/camera not essential
To reserve a place: kate@hivesouthyorkshire.com
Facebook event

Organised by Hive South Yorkshire in partnership with Off the Shelf 

Warda Yassin is a British Somali poet and English teacher. She writes about her Somali heritage and community and in 2018 was a winner of the New Poets Prize. Her debut pamphlet Tea with Cardamom came out with The Poetry Business in 2019. 

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.

Writing poetry about people with Jonathan Edwards

Now full. Contact if still interested as we might get a drop out. 

‘So this is how we love – by these doodles.’ runs the definition of writing poems in Glyn Maxwell’s wonderful book On Poetry. From Shakespeare to Duffy, many of the best and most emotive poems are written for and about those people the writers’ love (and sometimes, those they don’t love so much!)

Join us for a special Sheaf Poetry Festival Hive masterclass 22nd Nov with award-winning Welsh poet, Jonathan Edwards, and be inspired by a wide range of great people-populated poems – exploring what gives them the pulse, the nub, the heart that captures the weird, sad, tender and wonderful aspects of being humans.

Jonathan knows a thing or two about writing people as is evident in his two fabulous award-winning collections. Expect a fun and insightful writing day working with a much-celebrated Welsh poet, and emerge joyous, waving your doodles above your head in triumph!

So this is how we love:
Writing poetry about people with Jonathan Edwards
Hive in collaboration with Sheaf Poetry Festival

Sunday 22nd Nov: 1.30 – 4.15 (with a break)
Where: Zoom (cameras not nec)
Booking: Kate@hivesouthyorkshire.com
Cost: £5 | If you’re outside of South Yorkshire £6 (Priority for young writers who entered Hive young writers’ competition 2020)
Open to writers aged 15 to 26 of any experience (get in touch too if that’s almost you!)

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), also received the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. His poem about Newport Bridge was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2019, and he has received prizes in the Ledbury Festival International Poetry Competition, the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. He has read his poems on BBC radio and television and at festivals around the world, recorded them for the Poetry Archive and led workshops in schools, universities and prisons. Jonathan is the editor of Poetry Wales.

The lovely draw are courtesy of: David Lanham

Brick by Brick

How Covid Changed My Perspective

As an almost 18-year-old suffering from chronic and mental illnesses, this lockdown was never going to be easy – throw in a mum and sister who are also health-compromised, a dog, two cats, a guinea pig, and a hedgehog, and you have one heck of a household – but what I didn’t see coming was how Covid could change my life for the better.

This year seemed to be going well. I was studying journalism at college, I’d made new friends, my braces were due off, and I was close to taking my driving test. Standard teen/young adulting stuff for most, but for me, it marked a shift in life that was quite a big deal.

Since around 12 years old, I’ve been suffering from what clinicians have called, as an umbrella term, ‘chronic widespread pain’. This also includes fatigue, dizziness, restless legs and memory loss. I’ve ended up doing what a lot of people do, researching what’s wrong myself to find answers.

I’ve ended up doing what a lot of people do, researching what’s wrong myself to find answers.

For a while I’ve been aware, everything points to me having Fibromyalgia, a condition my mum has, that’s characterised by all of the above issues. I’ve ticked every symptom box. I’m currently in limbo between child and adult services but even so, they don’t like to diagnose Fibro in kids. Now the occupational therapist and the psychologist are starting to agree, it’s likely what I have.

What I’ve dealt with for the last 5 or so years has been really tough. It’s hard enough going through your teen years, but with pain and fatigue, your mind is constantly consumed by a heavy weight that never leaves you. You accept a lot of limitations about the life you can lead.

But as I said, things were definitely looking up. Although I still had battles with myself daily, my pain continuing to restrict what I could do, and it was still a struggle to wake up every morning (or afternoon), I had managed to strengthen my stamina and build a routine after years of fighting. This was a real milestone. I felt like the wall I had put all my energy into breaking was slowly coming down, brick by brick.

This was a real milestone. I felt like the wall I had put all my energy into breaking was slowly coming down, brick by brick.

Then, from nowhere, there was suddenly something new and dangerous behind it. Something even scarier than the torment my brain created – Coronavirus. Everything ground to a halt and I was back to being home every day like I used to be, re-living pyjama days, eating biscuits for breakfast watching This Morning, feeling imprisoned in my own home. I had lived that way for years and now I was back in it.

We were shielding from the beginning of lockdown because my sister is immune-compromised. From the off, I struggled with a lot of unpleasant thoughts from the past resurfacing. I saw flashes of me running up the stairs and locking myself in the bathroom so I didn’t have to go to school, I felt the anxiety of bracing myself for my mum coming in in the morning asking if I was up to going in that day – the answer was always no.

My mind was playing games with me, but I knew I had to move away from how I was feeling and vowed to shut the lid on my box of self-hatred. My main focus and worries were always my mum and sister; they’re my rocks and I knew we were more vulnerable to the virus, so I just hoped my fears would never become more than figments of my imagination.

When you have a condition that causes constant pain and fatigue, it’s hard to know if you’re suffering from another illness, or if it’s just a flare-up. I guess we just held on to the hope that our mum had a really bad chest infection and it wasn’t Coronavirus. It couldn’t be, right?

Things changed in a flash; the sudden turn from coping to her struggling to breathe, calling 111 for advice, then following the paramedic’s instructions and taking her to A&E. I remember sitting in the car checking my phone every minute for updates, feeling hopeless and returning home to check on our pets, crying and praying while clutching the cross on my necklace. Eventually, we got the good news that Mum could come home.

Those days were some of the hardest of my life. My sister and I had to try and look after everything ourselves while helping Mum as much as possible. I remember breaking down on the kitchen floor, asking why me? and creeping around outside her bedroom when she finally got some sleep and pressing my ear on the door to make sure she was still breathing.

Thankfully she slowly started to recover and normality began to return. The after-effects of the virus are brutal though, and still cause trouble for us all – my sister and me fortunately got away with having mild cases too.

So how has Covid then changed my life for the better you might ask?

Well, certainly not the disease itself, but how it changed my thinking and really shifted me to face the future I’m determined to have. Through the rainstorm of anxiety, this frightening experience, when everything I have, and everyone I love, was no longer stable, it awoke in me a fierce desire to live, and to see all the reasons why, despite everything, I’m still lucky and grateful in many ways. I come from a household of strong women, there’s no dad or husband, it’s just us and we all have health conditions, but we are here and we have each other.

It was the kind of epiphany that can only come from recognising what we might lose and how precious that is. Depression has pretty much ruled my life for the past five years, making it incredibly difficult to feel like a good person who deserves a beating heart and a happy life.

Depression has pretty much ruled my life for the past five years, making it incredibly difficult to feel like a good person who deserves a beating heart and a happy life.

But the thought of my life and world being pulled from under me made me realise just how much I wanted to be here. It’s made me step back and think about everything I still want to do and how my story really is only just beginning. I thought about how far I’ve already come, and how I want to get back on that road the moment the outside world lets me.

This feels like a breakthrough in my psychology. The last piece falling into place. While I wish Coronavirus had never happened, and my family (and so many around the world) weren’t impacted by this awful disease, it’s given me the time and mind-set to work through past regrets and decide that I do deserve to live. And to hold onto the future that I can see more clearly for the first time, to be excited and hopeful for it. Every day is still tough, and things aren’t just suddenly okay, but I’m now walking through daylight and I’m back taking down the wall again, brick by brick.

By Erin Memmott

Erin Memmott is a 17-year-old student studying Journalism and Social Media Communications. She’s an aspiring journalist passionate about hard-hitting issues such as mental and physical illnesses in young people and politics. In summer 2020 she was a guest editor for the Sheffield Star newspaper. Follow her on Twitter @MemmottErin