Northern Roots Creative Writing Competition

The Northern Roots Creative Writing Competition is now closed! Thank you to all of you who got creative and sent us pieces of writing. We will announce the winners in January 2021.

Northern Roots is teaming up with Oldham Libraries to launch the first ever Northern Roots Creative Writing Competition – a chance for you to get creative and celebrate the wild beauty and magic of the Northern Roots site.

The judging panel features Oldham-based writer Jacqueline Ward, who grew up a stone’s throw from the Northern Roots site, Nawhal Sarwar, a writer and student at Oldham College, and TV and radio presenter Lindsey Chapman.

Northern Roots is creating the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park on 160-acres of stunning green space in the heart of Oldham. Alongside market gardening, mountain-biking, sports and educational facilities, Northern Roots will develop a vibrant arts and culture offer. And it starts with you.

What is the creative brief?

We are inviting entries of original creative writing of up to 500 words, inspired by the landscape, natural beauty and heritage of the Northern Roots site and the future ambitions of the Northern Roots project. Beyond that, you can interpret the brief as you wish!

From wonderful wildlife and urban biodiversity to the  Beautiful Oldham Society events that took place on the Northern Roots site, there’s so much to inspire your imagination. Or perhaps you’ll be inspired by the future aims of the Northern Roots project or want to write about the way urban green spaces make us feel?

Who can enter?

The Northern Roots writing competition is open to anyone living, studying or working in Oldham, is free to enter, and has three categories:

  1. Children (5-12)
  2. Young People (13-17)
  3. Adults (18 and above)

We welcome entries from EVERYONE, no matter what your background or experience. You don’t have to be a ‘writer’ or have written anything before! The idea is to have fun, and to explore both the beautiful Northern Roots site, the project and your own creativity.

If you can’t get to the Northern Roots site, we encourage you to join in and ‘exercise your imagination’! During the competition we’ll be sharing photographs, film clips and information about Northern Roots on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook platforms, as well as advice and inspiration from our fabulous judging panel.

What format do we require?

You can submit one piece of original creative writing up to 500 words maximum. Your piece can be as short as a haiku or the full 500 words – whatever works for you.

Your piece can be poetry, fiction or anything in between – whatever you feel inspired to create.

Details of how to send us your submission can be found in Competition Rules.

Winners and prizes!

The winners in each category will see an excerpt from their winning piece incorporated into the future Northern Roots site. For example, a line from a piece of writing could be carved into a bench or piece of stone installed on site.

We’re thrilled to have the support of local businesses, who have generously donated prizes to each category.

  • Children (5-12) category:  The winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD8 Plus from local business Remedian.
  • Young People (13-17):  The winner will receive an All-new Echo Dot (4th generation) and £125 of vouchers from local business Ultimate Products. 
  • Adults (18 and above):  The winner will receive a 6-month Premium membership from Oldham Community Leisure.

Winners in each category will also be offered a 30-minute one to one Zoom call with author and judge Jacqueline Ward to discuss how to develop your writing and get it published.

Winners and shortlisted submissions will be celebrated on Northern Roots social media and web platforms and form part of an exhibition at Oldham Libraries in 2021.

What is the deadline?

The competition launches on the 12th October 2020 and is open for four weeks. Your piece must be submitted by Monday 9th November 2020.  Winners will be announced in January 2021.

How do I enter the competition?

To enter the competition, you will need to submit your piece using the application form and email it to

Hard copies can be accepted at Oldham Library during opening hours, but you will still need to fill in a short form with basic contact details when you arrive.

Full details about how to submit your piece can be found in Competition Rules. Please read before entering – we’ve kept it as short and sweet as we can!

And lastly…

Good luck! We can’t wait to read your creative writing!