A Writing Chance 2021-22

Fresh Stories from Under-represented Voices

A Writing Chance opened in February 2021 to new and aspiring storytellers from under-represented backgrounds. We sought fresh perspectives and great stories from people whose voices have historically not been heard in publishing and the media.

The 11 writers selected for A Writing Chance received £1,500 bursaries, one-to-one mentoring with industry leaders, publication and broadcast of their work in The New Statesman, Daily Mirror and BBC Sounds, and a series of industry insight events and activities.

This UK-wide project was co-funded by Michael Sheen and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and produced by New Writing North, supported by media partners New Statesman and Daily Mirror. The project was supported with research from Northumbria University.

Michael Sheen: Margins to Mainstream

Margins to Mainstream

The Margins to Mainstream podcast featuring all 11 of our A Writing Chance writers is now available on BBC Sounds, produced for BBC Wales by Working Word.

In this 10-part series, Michael Sheen introduces new writers from under-represented backgrounds on a journey to reveal truths from the margins of society.

Listen now

A Writing Chance opened a door to a world that I had wanted to be a part of for a long time but was never quite sure how to access. The world of publishing seems very opaque when you’re on the outside. This programme made that world feel much more accessible and enabled me to see a path to a writing career.

Mayo Agard-Olubo, A Writing Chance 2021-22

A Writing Chance 2021–22 Writers

  • Anna Maxwell

    Anna writes dramatic monologues, flash fiction and micro fiction. Her enthusiasm for dramatic monologues began in her late twenties, when she was a member of a women’s drama group in Lancaster, and she wrote and performed her own piece to an audience. Anna loves hard-hitting drama and is currently writing a six-episode series for screen using humour to explore current and controversial issues.

    Anna’s latest monologue, Square Peg, performed by Michael Sheen, is available on the BBC Sounds podcast, Margins to Mainstream.

    Anna wrote an article for The New Statesman in March 2022, which you can read here

  • Becka White

    Becka White works in the human rights sector. Before that, she spent many years subtitling live news on TV. Becka is a proud feminist, and mum to two young critical thinkers. Language is her first true (non-human) love. In her free time, she can be found cooking, reading, and leaving 40 minute voice-notes to her friends. Becka lives in south-east London, down the road from where she grew up. Her work has featured in the New Statesman and the BBC podcast ‘Margins to Mainstream‘. She is a winner of the London Writer’s Award 2022 for narrative non-fiction.

  • David Clancy

    Born in 1971, David is a hairdresser in the festival town of Ulverston. After years of hearing and telling stories orally David began to write them down; like all good hairdressers’ tales they are a balanced mix of fact and fiction. Concentrating mainly on LGBTQI+ lives, interests and issues David’s work has featured in both local and national publications and heard on BBC Radio Cumbria. David is currently working on his first novel.

    Read David’s article in the New Statesman here.

  • Elias Suhail

    Elias is a British-Moroccan writer and filmmaker; he lives in Folkestone, Kent, with his wife and two daughters.

    Elias’s recent film projects has received support from the BFI Network and the SAFAR Arab Film Development Programme. He is currently developing a collection of short stories concerned with themes of cultural margins and liminalities. Elias has a wide-ranging experience behind the scenes in the film and television industry, working for filmmakers such as Ken Loach and Joanna Hogg. He hopes to use his confluence of experiences to tell stories that offer a deeper understanding of the multiplicity of Arab and working-class identities.

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    Read Elias’s article for the New Statesman here.

  • Grace Quantock

    Grace Quantock is a writer and counsellor. Grace writes creative non-fiction; her work has been published in The GuardianThe New StatesmanThe Daily Mirror and The Welsh Agenda. Grace was shortlisted for The Nan Shepherd Prize and the Artists and Writers Working Class Writers’ Prize 2021.

    She lives in Wales and loves journaling and calligraphy.

    Read Grace’s article for the A Dream of Britain issue of the New Statesman here.

  • Jaqueline Houston

    Jacqueline Houston was born in Galloway, Scotland in 1970. A factual television freelancer for two decades, she has powdered Giorgio Armani’s nose, pursued alien life-forms in India and been laughed at by a remote tribe in Tanzania for having ginger hair. Despite all this, she is entirely new to writing.

    She lives in Glasgow and likes having her knees punctured by old moggies.

    Most recently her work has featured in The New Statesman and on BBC Sounds.


  • Maya Jordan

    Maya Jordan is a working-class writer living in Mid-Wales. After studying for a master’s in Creative Writing, Maya was awarded a place on A Writing Chance, a programme supporting working-class and under-represented writers, with Michael Sheen and New Writing North.

    She’s had work published in The New Statesman and is a regular writer for The Mirror’s parenting newsletter Lemon-Aid. She writes both fiction and creative non-fiction and her fiction was recently highlighted in the BBC’s Margins to Mainstream with Michael Sheen.

    She’s a keen library user and is passionate about access to creative arts for everyone, particularly disadvantaged communities.

    She is currently finishing her first novel, set in Newtown, Powys and has a weekly blog, Bordering Grey.

    Bordering Grey – Writings on life while I go grey here on the Welsh borders.

  • Mayo Agard-Olubo

    Mayo Agard-Olubo is a writer and poet based in London. He has been published in numerous anthologies and in the New Statesman. He writes fiction for children of all ages and is especially passionate about creating magical adventure stories for characters from backgrounds that have been historically ignored in children’s literature. As well as winning a place on A Writing Chance his unpublished picture book manuscript was longlisted for the inaugural Jericho prize, he was accepted into the HarperCollins Author Academy and is a winner of a London Writers Award in the YA/Children’s writing category. He is currently working on a Young Adult novel called We Must Slay Giants that explores themes such as climate change and colonialism through a steampunk fantasy setting.

    You can read Mayo’s articles for the New Statesman here and The Bookseller here.

  • Stephen Tuffin

    Stephen was born in 1958 on a council estate on the south-east coast of England. A former butcher’s boy, cook, cab driver, door-to-door salesman, care home assistant, road worker and builder, he now teaches creative writing. Aged 40, his world was flipped arse-upwards when he was diagnosed with an arthritic condition that meant he could no longer earn his keep as a carpenter. By the time he was 50 he had two degrees and a part-time job teaching. He is a working-class writer writing working-class stories inspired by the remarkable and raw world he has lived and worked in for most of his life. He loves his family, his mates, his cats Claude and Noah, the blues, beer, books, writing and the occasional roll-up. He lives in Swindon.

    Read Stephen’s article for the New Statesman here.

  • Tammie Ash

    Tammie hails from Bradford, West Yorkshire and studied Civil & Structural Engineering at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2017. She worked as a civil engineer before changing career to work in factual TV on shows for the BBC and Channel 4. She has also written for The New StatesmanThe Mirror and Business Insider as a freelance writer.

  • Tom Newlands

    Tom Newlands is a Scottish writer living in London. He is a winner of the London Writer’s Award for Literary Fiction, the Creative Future Writer’s Award and New Writing North’s A Writing Chance. He is an alumnus of several writer development programmes including Penguin WriteNow, Creative Future Next Up, and the Curtis Brown Breakthrough Novel Scheme. In his writing Tom is interested in exploring disability, class consciousness and material culture and he is passionate about bringing warmth and humour to difficult subject matters. Tom is also a painter and visual artist and before starting to write worked as an auction consultant and art technician. He is currently writing a second novel, under the mentorship of David Peace.

    Read Tom’s article for the New Statesman here.

I know how powerful it can be having role models and peers from working-class backgrounds in your workplace, your newspaper, your books. I hope someone else who is masking their background hears and sees me and finds comfort in the fact there are other working-class people in these spaces, and that it’s okay to be your authentic self.

Becka White, A Writing Chance 2021-22

Influencing Policy

A Writing Chance 2021-22 was supported by an extensive body of research from Professor Katy Shaw at Northumbria University, which took our project from TED Talks to academic conferences to the House of Commons.

Read more on our Research page

A Writing Chance at the House of Commons

A Writing Chance 2021-22 culminated in a round table discussion between industry leaders and a final celebratory event at the House of Commons. Thank you to the Authors’ Licensing and Collection Society for supporting this event.