Calling all writers! Home-Start asks families to share their stories


Local families charity Home-Start South East Dorset has launched a new writing competition to encourage local families to share their stories. Some excellent prizes are up for grabs including book vouchers, hampers and days out.

Homestart UK, Camden. (Image © Andy Aitchison / HomeStart UK)

Shortlisted entries will be judged by Bestselling Children’s Author Sarah Lean who wrote A Dog Called Homeless. Sarah commented: “I am very happy to be invited to be part of this competition. I loved writing stories as a child, dictating them to my mother who typed them up on an old borrowed typewriter. It was magic to see what I had inside me turn into neatly formed words on paper. Storytime at school, home and the library was one of my most favourite activities. We probably all need a little more restful and comforting time of listening together and sharing a book.”

Sarah’s comments are echoed by various bodies of research that highlight the benefits of reading to children and the unfortunate reality that thousands of children in Britain do not even have a book of their own. Organisations like The National Literacy Trust and Bookstart are focused on improving access to books and encouraging parents to read to their children regularly right from birth, to encourage connection and a love of reading.

Local business Hodson Writing Services is supporting the competition. Founder Gayleen Hodson believes that writing and creativity are very important at a young age. “Writing and creativity help children to express emotions,” says Gayleen. “A child’s creative activity can help teachers and parents to learn more about what the child may be thinking or feeling at the time. Older children can write down things that are on their minds. Creative outlets can help to therefore boost mental health and express emotions. Creative activities can also aid diversity and improve intellectual skills, as well as increase inspiration and confidence.”

The competition has several categories open to enter. Each age group has its own writing topic, from favourite outdoor activities to parenting highs and lows and more. Poems and short stories are welcome.

“I am very excited to read all the competition entries, especially those from parents,” Sarah continued. “We share our life stories with each other all the time in conversation although often are reluctant to commit our words to paper. So many of us set aside the things we love doing and I encourage anyone else who has put aside the desire to write to take this one step. A love of reading and writing is what we want our children to experience, for many reasons, and they learn this passion from what they see from those around them.”

Entries must be received by midnight on 8th November 2021. For further details and full competition rules please visit

Caroline Pope, Community & Corporate Engagement Manager at Home-Start South East Dorset said: “We are delighted that both Sarah Lean and Hodson Writing Services have agreed to be involved in this project. We can’t wait to read all the entries as they come in. I am sure we will be blown away by the creativity of the children and adults in our local area.”

Home-Start South East Dorset provides nurturing support and guidance for families living across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, as well as the Purbecks and areas as far north as Cranborne and as far west as Wareham. Since 1995 they have helped over 3,500 local families and supported over 10,000 children through a network of over 600 amazing volunteers.

It costs Home-Start South East Dorset approximately £33.25 per week to support a family with specialist one-to-one volunteer support. To make a donation to Home-Start, or to find out more about accessing their help, please visit


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