Actor Michael Sheen has called on the media industry to create options and opportunities for aspiring writers and journalists from lower income and under-represented backgrounds.

Together we are delighted to announce the 11 new writers who will be supported by A Writing Chance, a positive intervention to a persistent industry issue that sees 75% of journalists come from the highest social groups.

A Writing Chance is co-funded by Michael Sheen and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with support from the New Statesman and Daily Mirror. The UK-wide initiative is delivered by New Writing North and research from Northumbria University.

The project is designed to discover new talent, support new writers, and prise open an industry which remains difficult to access.

Through the project’s research strand led by Northumbria University, it also seeks to better understand the barriers to success faced by aspiring writers from a broad range of backgrounds who are under-represented in the industry and to empower publishers and editors to make space for a greater range of experiences and perspectives on their pages.

Eleven writers were selected for A Writing Chance from 750 applicants. They will each receive one-to-one mentoring with an established writer or journalist, a £1500 bursary, insight days with media partners, and publication or broadcast of their work.

The project was instigated by Sheen inspired by the successful Common People anthology of working-class writers in 2019, which profiled and supported new writers alongside established names and which created debate within the publishing industry about representation.

The writers selected for A Writing Chance are:

  • Mayo Agard-Olubo, based in London
  • Tammie Ash, based in Bradford
  • David Clancy, based in Ulverston
  • Jacqueline Houston, based in Glasgow
  • Maya Jordan, based in Newtown
  • Anna Maxwell, based in Lancaster
  • Tom Newlands, based in London
  • Grace Quantock, based in Pontypool
  • Elias Suhail, based in Folkestone
  • Stephen Tuffin, based in Swindon
  • Becka White, based in London

We look forward to working with the writers and partners on this exciting project. Find out more here

Thank you to the literature agencies nationally who have supported this programme to reach aspiring writers across the country: Literature Wales, Literature Works, National Centre for Writing, New Writing South, Scottish Book Trust, Spread the Word, Writing East Midlands, Writing West Midlands.