Young People's Zone

Voices 2017 Our judges

We are very excited about our panel of judges for Voices 2017. They include writers, authors and journalists with a special interest in – or experience of – care. They’re all looking forward to reading your Voices 2017 entries. So, get writing now.

Nikesh Shukla, Voices 2017 judgeNikesh Shukla, writer

Nikesh Shukla is a writer whose novels include Coconut Unlimited, which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010, and Meatspace which has been praised by the New Statesman, BBC Radio 4, Independent on Sunday and the Daily Mail.

Nikesh is the editor of the essay collection The Good Immigrant in which 21 British writers of colour discuss race and immigration in the UK. His short stories have featured in several publications. He has also been writer in residence for BBC Asian Network and Royal Festival Hall, as well as writing for The Guardian, Esquire, Vice, Buzzfeed and BBC2. In 2014, he co-wrote Two Dosas, an award-winning short film.

Follow Nikesh on Twitter: @nikeshshukla, or visit


Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor and Presenter, Channel 4 News

After more than two decades with the BBC, Jackie joined Channel 4 in 2011.

As Social Affairs Editor and Presenter for Channel 4 News, Jackie provides coverage of policy and public services, and this includes reporting on issues facing young people in the care system.

Jackie also writes a blog on social affairs for Channel 4 News, and is a reporter for Dispatches, Channel 4’s award-winning investigative current affairs programme.

Follow Jackie on Twitter: @JackieLongc4, or visit


Luke Stevenson, Children’s Social Care Journalist, Community Care

Luke Stevenson joins the Voices panel of judges for a second year running.

As Children’s Social Care Journalist for Community Care, the leading publication for social care professionals, Luke produces news, features and investigations on the topics of children’s social work and issues affecting children and young people.


Follow Luke on Twitter: @ComCareLuke, or visit


Keren David author and journalist​Keren David, author of young adult fiction

Keren David is the award-winning author of eight books for Young Adults, including Salvage, which is about siblings, one adopted, one growing up in the care system. She is also a journalist and works as Features Editor at the Jewish Chronicle. 

Follow Keren on Twitter: @Kerensd,or visit


Paolo Hewitt, music journalist and author

Paolo joins our Voices panel of judges for a second year running. Paolo experienced the care system from a very early age, and grew up in foster care and at a children’s home.

He is the author of more than 20 books covering music, fashion and football, and writes for NME magazine and The Guardian. Paolo’s book The Looked After Kid is his memoir of life in care, painting a vivid picture of his coming of age in a children’s home and finding salvation through his passion for music and literature. Paolo is currently working on a new book entitled On The Breath of Your First Dawn – A Letter To My Son.

Follow Paolo on Twitter: @PaoloHewitt1


Jenny Molloy author, motivational speaker, and England Patron of The British Association of Social Workers (BASW)

Jenny Molloy's most recent book Neglected explores the true stories of children in and around the care system. It comes after two previous books Hackney Child, and Tainted Love, which she wrote under her pen name Hope Daniels. Jenny spent most of her childhood in care and, as a care leaver, was under the Care of Hackney Social Services, hence the title of her book. She is now married, and although a mother and grandmother, remains, to this day, a care leaver.

Follow Jenny on Twitter: @HackneyChild 

Read Jenny's Huffington Post blog about what writing meant to her while growing up in care.


Alex Wheatle, Voices 2017 judgeAlex Wheatle MBE, author and winner of the 2016 Guardian children’s fiction prize

Born in Brixton, Alex spent most of his childhood in a children’s home. He started to write poems and lyrics in the late 1970s and became known as the ‘Brixton Bard’.

Alex’s first novel, Brixton Rock, was published to critical acclaim in 1999, and then five more novels for adults followed, before he turned to young adult fiction.

Alex was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2008 for services to literature, and won the 2016 Guardian children’s fiction prize with his hard-hitting novel Crongton Knights, the second in a trilogy set on a fictitious inner-city estate. The judges praised his ‘poetic and rhythmic’ writing, and language that ‘sings from the page’.

The final book in the trilogy Straight Outta Crongton will be published this Spring, and Alex is also working on a non-fiction book about Black Britain. A favourite within reading groups and libraries, he is the UK’s most read Black British author.

Follow Alex on Twitter: @brixtonbard, or visit


Useful links


Discover the Voices 2017 winners