The 2017 London Voices competition

Aspiring citizen journalists received awards at the prestigious London Reform Club.

London Voices Previous Winners

Dubbed London Voices, the competition aims to promote emerging journalism talent across the capital and to generate a range of new perspectives and ideas about London. Aspiring citizen journalists submitted articles, videos or photos which debated and challenged the ways people think about their communities. The competition was launched against a background of discussion about the proliferation of ‘fake news’, and is part of an attempt to fight back by encouraging citizens to become part of reporting ‘real’ news about their communities and issues.

Sponsor Stephen Jeffery from the London Learning Consortium said “The more we can encourage local people to get involved with citizen journalism, the better chance we have of reporting events and issues in a fair and balanced way. As CEO of a London training provider, it’s been great to help emerging journalists learn more about how to get their voices heard.”

Read on below to see photos and a short profile of all the 2017 winners, along with a chance to have a look at their winning entry.

The Winners

  • Louisa Naks


    Greenwich resident Louisa has just completed a degree at University College London, where she studied Polish and Russian. She hopes that her languages will come in useful when she follows her other passion, Broadcasting and Journalism, with a Master’s degree at City University of London from this September.

    Having lived in Poland and Russia during her undergraduate course, Louisa wants to develop her skills in TV/radio production and presenting by concentrating on stories about people.  She has already completed one internship using video at a company called Newsflare, and has contributed to a magazine in Poland.  She loves writing, and can’t wait to get started on her new course.

    Louisa’s written entry to the competition deals with the issues and emotions arising among European immigrants, old and young, following the Brexit referendum. She interviews four diverse individuals, all with their own hopes and concerns.

    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry First Prize in the competition, saying, “An excellent, well marshalled, balanced and well set out entry, which is also very timely. It has some carefully presented thoughts on Brexit with some acute observations, and it is well concluded. I could very easily envisage this as a box-out in a Sunday double-page spread.”

    Louisa’s dream is to go into documentary film making, or working as a foreign correspondent.  Her passion is to highlight the unreported perspective of ordinary citizens in current affairs and social issues across the world.

    Louisa’s entry:   Migrant voices of London  

  • Giulia Bassanese


    Giulia was born in Italy and came to London in 2010. While working in hospitality, she was feeling squandered in what she was doing and decided to set up a blog where she could express herself by writing travel stories and taking pictures of her numerous trips. After that she decided to take a more serious step, enrolling in a Master’s Degree course in Digital Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is also learning how to code and film.


    In March, while studying on this course, she became aware of the plight of many local independent businesses which would be adversely affected by huge increases in business rates. Her video entry to the competition focussed on this issue, and on three small businesses impacted by the proposed changes.  This was her first attempt at video journalism, and the piece was shot with an iPhone6 and edited with Adobe Premiere Pro.


    The short film took Giulia almost a month to plan, film and edit, as many business owners were reluctant to talk to camera. Giulia found that using a phone to film the interviews reduced some of their anxiety, and also offered a different approach to the many mainstream film crews covering the controversial proposal.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry Second Prize in the competition, saying, “Where this is strong is alighting on a challenge for London – the homogenisation of retail commerce and the demise of independent business. It’s personal, it’s adult, it’s pertinent and it’s atmospheric. These are personal tales, bound around a thread, clearly in a London context, genuinely informative and put together with no small skill.  This is one of the most carefully crafted short videos I have seen in a long time. Beautifully shot and edited. Superb.”


    Giulia is almost at the end of her one-year intensive degree, but is already planning to develop her knowledge and portfolio about video journalism. She is also interested in writing and data journalism and after the course she plans to find an internship with an online magazine or newspaper, to enhance the skills achieved during her course. Her main interests lie in culture, adventurous travel and music, but also in social issues and in giving voice to the marginalised.


    Giulia’s entry: London Independent Businesses – Vimeo link

  • Seren Morris


    Seren is originally from the south Wales valleys, but is now an enthusiastic resident of Tower Hamlets.

    She has long been interested in writing about arts and culture, in particular from a female viewpoint.  Having just finished her second year at Queen Mary University of London in English Literature, she is already hoping to follow this with a Master’s degree in journalism at City University of London.


    She has been interested in journalism from a young age, producing a blog since she was 15 years old, writing two columns about women in arts and culture, and being a regular contributer to Queen Mary’s Cub Magazine. She attended two short courses at The Guardian – one on general journalism and a second on building a brand – and she has also completed InDesign training with Cub magazine.


    Seren’s magazine-style entry to the competition deals with the vexed issue of London students trying to earn a living wage for work and internships, and the problems they face surviving economically while needing to take low (or no) paying work relevant to their studies and future work prospects.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry Third Prize in the competition, saying, “Thought has gone into this format and I liked the attempt to turn it into a feature style piece. There’s form and structure there in a beautifully presented, detailed and thoughtful submission. It has great photos and graphics, and a very clear narrative.”


    Seren thinks her interest in journalism has been encouraged both by the Welsh tradition of celebrating arts and literature, and her mum and grandmother’s talent for creative writing and poetry.  She also values the encouragement her father gave her around photography, which has impacted on her love of media in general. She hopes one day to work in print journalism and independent magazines, concentrating on women in the arts.


    Seren’s entry:   The War on Wages. Six Students and the Fight for the London Living Wage

  • Joel Kiffin


    Joel has lived in Haringey all his life and was one of the youngest winners in the competition.

    He is in his last year of sixth form study at Alexandra Park School where he is finishing ‘A’ levels in Economics, History and Media Studies.


    With a keen interest in journalism, politics and sport, Joel took a summer school short course last year at London Metropolitan University in journalism which further fired his enthusiasm.  He has also written a few articles for football website Transfer News Central.Although he is the first in his family to be involved with journalism, he is hoping to go far and has already applied to University to study journalism and media.


    Joel’s interest in politics was evident in his written entry to the competition, discussing ideas about the use and misuse of social media, and the extent to which it could be seen as contributing to or stifling democratic debate.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Certificate of Merit in the competition, saying, “This takes on a big old subject and covers the ground. It has a sense of informing and backs it up with quotes and stats. It’s carefully prepared and structured, well presented and leading towards a well-argued conclusion.”


    Joel intends to continue with his twin passions of sport (cricket, football, tennis and Formula One) and writing.  As well as continuing his study at University, Joel would also like to try and work within either print media or broadcast media such as radio.


    Joel’s entry:   Social Media and Democracy

  • Nikki Mattocks


    Nikki is a student mental health nurse in Surrey, on the borders of her home borough of Croydon.

    Her main interest is in campaigning around mental health issues, particularly among the young, and she has been interviewed numerous times by TV, radio and newspapers on this theme.


    With no previous study in journalism, Nikki decided to use the media to raise awareness of the impact of mental health issues, and ways that young people can be given an opportunity to talk about their lives.  She set up a voluntary peer support group in Croydon three years ago to give young people a place to talk and support each other.  She says there are not enough groups like this to address the need, as they are quite hard work to set up and run within the confines of legislation such as safeguarding.


    Having previously written on mental health issues in a blog for the Huffington Post, Nikki’s entry to the competition represented her first attempt at a video.  Made to demonstrate case studies of young people who have benefitted from the peer support group, Evolve, the video interviews a number of beneficiaries from the group.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Certificate of Merit in the competition, saying, “This is powerful stuff, well told by a parade of characters to whom you can’t help but warm. It is good documentary story-telling, being powerful, passionate and centred on real Londoners with very real problems.”


    Nikki aims to continue with her nursing career alongside campaigning, and hopes to make more use of journalistic skills and media to raise awareness of mental health issues among young people in the UK.


    Nikki’s entry: Evolve – Mental Health & Peer Support – YouTube Link

  • Martin Dignan


    Martin has lived in Tower Hamlets for 20 years.

    He worked in the printing industry and set up his own printing business dealing with merchandising in both the UK and Canada, before deciding to branch out into media.


    He completed a short media course with a film collective in Roman Road, which provided him with practical skills and experience in both filming and editing. He followed this by enrolling at Working Men’s College in Camden to develop the more creative side of video production, where he is now continuing to study Creative Media.


    Martin also has a keen interest in music, and he combined these two interests in his London Voices video journalism entry. The video concentrates on Max Music studios, a community-led musical arts initiative, and focuses on the irrepressible spirit of local hero and musician/music producer, Astaphan, a community music champion for over 20 years.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Certificate of Merit, saying, “The central character is an appealing one and he tells his story well. It’s an interesting and creative approach to telling a story of London endeavour, and expressly sets out to establish the who, what, where, when and why – all key elements in journalism. Good stuff.


    Martin intends to use his new skills to continue with his personal interests in both music and broadcast journalism, and to raise awareness of local community matters.


    Martin’s entry: Documentary Profile MaxMusicStudios – YouTube Link

  • Abbie Richards


    Abbie is an LSEC London South East Colleges Bromley College learner studying AQA GCSE English.She has always loved to read and write, and found it a vital outlet at school due to her decision to be a selective mute.  Finding English rather boring at school, her transfer to the college opened her eyes to how fun, exciting, challenging and inspiring it could be to write.


    She credits her teacher, Finn Devers, with using texts, images, street photography, music, objects, TV and film clips to bring subjects alive, and found her motivation and enthusiasm increasing day by day. She discovered the craft of writing to persuade, argue and inform, and jumped at the chance to enter the competition.


    She particularly likes the way magazines, articles, journalism and fiction can transport people to another world.  She found the competition helped her think and reflect about her life, family, education and community, along with her identity and the barriers and challenges she has faced.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended certificate in the competition, saying, “Although London is a peripheral player here, this account of being stuck in a silent world is a story of isolation through multiple causes. It’s a passionate and personal tale, strongly and well written”.


    Abbie is studying Health and Social Care and Childcare and hopes one day to become a midwife in the NHS. She loves writing and says the competition was a fantastic boost to her confidence and self-esteem. She feels encouraged to carry on writing and maybe enter more competitions through the English Enrichment Programme at LSEC Bromley College.


    Abbie’s entry:   London, My London – Where Silence is My Friend

  • Mohammed Hasan


    Brent resident Mohammed has been interested in journalism and politics for many years, and studied a Masters degree in International Law at SOAS to provide himself with a framework for finding solutions to problems and issues.Mohammed has blogged around issues of politics and current affairs (, and he completed a journalism internship at the House of Commons parliamentary press gallery. He has worked with political journalists at the Evening Standard, Independent, and Press Association. He has interviewed several high profile figures: Ed Milliband on GP waiting times, David Cameron and Falklands veterans for the South Atlantic Medal Ceremony at 10 Downing Street. He has also written comedic sketches to portray conflicts within political parties for House Magazine, an internal publication read by members of Parliament.


    Although Mohammed’s family has no background in journalism, his grandparents were politically active in the Sudan. His grandmother was not only a lawyer, but since her move to Sweden she has set up charities and continues to inspire Mohammed’s campaigning interests.


    His entry to the competition focused on issues around social media platforms, their contribution to fake news and how new developments impact on democracy.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended certificate in the competition, saying, “This entry has intellectual rigour and his style is tight. The blog works well with the visuals.  It’s a very detailed examination of social media.”


    Mohammed wants to use his law degree to help those less well-off, and he is particularly interested in issues of homelessness.  He intends to continue with his blog writing, using it as a platform to write about different experiences.


    Mohammed’s entry: Social Media: How does it affect our society and democracy? – External link

  • Ellie Rae Ward


    Ellie has long been interested in talking about people, their stories and their life situations.Always passionate about politics and current affairs, she studied Journalism at City University of London, and is now completing a Master’s Degree in International Development at the University of East Anglia, where she is focussing on social and community development with particular regard to local democratic structures.


    Having written previously for magazines about the charity sector, Ellie wants to help local groups find a platform on which to express their voices and become involved in decision making, and as part of this she edits the recently established Tottenham Community Press, which operates on a social enterprise model.  She hopes this bi-monthly publication will help fill a vacuum in local news press, and encourage residents to become part of the democratic process.  The newspaper also signposts readers to local voluntary services, providing a key source of information, while also giving local citizen journalists and photographers an opportunity to be published.


    Her competition entry deals with the impact of development and gentrification in London communities.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended certificate in the competition, saying, “This is a real shot at reporting rather than creative writing or personal observation/experience. London’s markets have long been in retreat and they are in many ways a motif for so many of the things that preoccupy our times. The demise of one community, the rise of another, diversity, its impact, social shift, housing, profit and so on. From that point of view she has hit on a timely motherlode. Isn’t that the definition of news?”


    Ellie is interested in seeing how the media can play a role in bringing societies together both in the UK and abroad. She would like to work as a journalist, but also wants to encourage people to engage with politics.


    Ellie’s entry:   Salsa Shutdown

  • Valerio Esposito


    Hackney resident Valerio was born in Naples, but came to London to take advantage of its more highly developed media industry.

    After learning English for just a few hours a week over a period of three years, he is now in his second year studying Journalism at City University of London, and wants to stay and work in the capital after completing his degree.


    Valerio’s interest is in reporting on crime and social issues, and giving a voice to those who have been overlooked by the mainstream media.  His passion for writing and journalism has been honed by practical support from his course, and from taking the job of Deputy Editor at the St John’s Street hyperlocal site Originally set up five years ago by City students, the site reports on local issues and news using a team of student volunteers.


    Valerio has also had experience working as a reporter for an Italian publication, and he has two blogs – one in Italian and one in English (  He also interned at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, the BBC, and he has written for many national publications such as Disorder Magazine, The National Student and Tyro Magazine.


    His entry to the competition was inspired by his experiences growing up with a disabled uncle, and seeing how people in his condition were treated for being different. He writes about the dangers of discrimination leading to legitimisation of certain behaviours, and from there to hate crime.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended certificate in the competition, saying, “This has a clear sense of ‘journalism’. It’s London, it’s who, where, what, why and when. It hits all the buttons.”


    Valerio would like to work in print journalism or as a features writer.  He is a versatile writer, and his passion is in giving a voice to the voiceless.


    Valerio’s entry: Disability and hate – the invisible crime plaguing Islington and Hackney – External link

  • Leslie Larcher-Haywood


    Leslie is originally from France but lived in Thornton Heath, Croydon with her extended family while studying Media at John Ruskin College.

    Leslie Larcher-Haywood

    She has always been interested in writing and broadcasting, and loves to be both in front of and behind a camera. She says one of her original inspirations was Rickie Haywood Williams, a member of her family who works in the media industry.


    Her written entry to the competition dealt with a comparison of young people’s experiences in both the UK and France. She covered a range of issues from racism to educational opportunities, and looked at the future of youth in the cities.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended Certificate, saying, “This sets out to deliver a comparative analysis and does it remarkably well. There’s a good use of quotes and statistics, and an attempt to draw reasonable conclusions. Leslie may not realise it but she just spoke volumes for the education systems of both countries. This entry is interesting to read, and has emotion but never lets it overwhelm.”


    Leslie is back in France at the moment to finish her studies, so that she can apply to university either in France or the UK. She wants to keep learning about the media industry to achieve one of her main goals – to become a TV presenter/journalist.


    Leslie’ entry:   How to survive – youth in the city

  • Nicolo Gervasi


    Islington resident Nicolo was born in Cagliari, Sardinia, but came to London to study Journalism at City, University of London, where he is about to start his final year.

    The first in a family of doctors to be interested in media and journalism, he loves to write, tell stories and talk about people.  He says he was inspired by his parents who always made sure that he was exposed to good quality writing and media.


    Nicolo has a passion for online and social media journalism.  From a young age he was making and posting videos online, and he has worked as a Facebook Live journalist for, live broadcasting for the site on a range of issues, including most recently on the general election. He particularly likes incorporating visual images, and makes good use of his phone when writing, filming and editing videos. He writes as a student reporter for the St John’s Street hyperlocal site, (reporting on local issues and news) and for the National Student magazine, and he is currently interning at Facebook’s Culture Trip, shadowing the social video producer.


    His entry to the competition was inspired by his fascination for food trends, in particular the weird and wonderful combinations of food types that become fashionable in London. But it’s not only the actual food and where it can be found that interests him, but also the psychology behind the consumers who will sometimes queue for ages to try a new food combo.


    Media Society judges Patrick Barrow and Barney Jones awarded the entry a Highly Commended certificate in the competition, saying, “ Well put together, tightly written and with a good use of quotes and example, light and shade. Beautifully written with some lovely phrases…this could sit happily in the FT “how to spend it” magazine”.


    Nicolo plans to stay in London and is considering continuing his studies with a Master’s degree in video and digital skills.  He is determined to become a professional journalist, and continue with his passion for telling stories about people, food, arts and culture.


    Nicolo’s entry: You are what you eat – investigating Islington and Hackney’s food trends – External link

  • Naomi Smith


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London Voices 2018 competition is now closed.  Please come back for more information about next year’s competition, or email to go on our mailing list.

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