The language of 2020 was Beyond Words

To mark World Mental Health Day this year, the Bupa Foundation in partnership with Cheltenham Festivals, National Literacy Trust and Mind launched Beyond Words – a national creative writing project inviting all children and schools to put into words their feelings about a year like no other.

We worked with award-winning poets and authors to produce tutorials supporting pupils to write a piece on the theme of ‘My 2020’. And what a response we had!

Young people across the country have shared their thoughts about coronavirus and lockdown, Black Lives Matter and climate change. We’ve been moved to tears and sometimes laughter by almost 400 poems, stories, songs, pictures and animations from children and young people who were inspired to share their story of 2020.

You can see some of the entries on our gallery here.

The following people received an individual recognition award for their outstanding work:

  • Aahana (11-14), Hong Kong
  • Avni (14-16), Middlesex
  • Catherine (14-16), Middlesex
  • Charlotte, Wimbledon
  • Eleanor (11-14), Oxfordshire
  • Fiyinfoluwa (16-18), Bristol
  • Grace (11-14), Chesham
  • Isabella, Derbyshire
  • Jasmine (14-16), Middlesex
  • Mariella (16-18), Coventry
  • Millie (11-14), Oxfordshire
  • Natali (11-14), Oxfordshire
  • Neil (7-11), Bristol
  • Noah (11-14), Hampshire
  • Olivia (11-14), Richmond
  • Paris (11-14), Chesham
  • Peter (11-14), Hampshire
  • Prema (11-14), Norfolk
  • Raed (11-14), Richmond
  • Robert (7-11), Hampshire
  • Sienna (7-11), Bristol
  • Tallulah (14-16), Plymouth
  • Thalia (11-14), Leicester

The following schools received £250 worth of books for their contributions:

  • Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch, Northern Ireland
  • Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, Whitby, Chester
  • Kensington Primary School, Stratford, London
  • Leicester Grammar School, Leicester
  • St Catherine’s School, Isle of Wight
  • The Divine Mercy RC Primary School, Manchester
  • The Grey Coat Hospital CofE School for Girls, Westminster, London
  • Ursuline High School, Wimbledon, London

A huge thank you to each and every person and school who took part. Your submissions have made a valuable contribution to three charities who support young people’s mental health. 

In recognition of the extraordinary submissions the Bupa Foundation has donated a total of £75,000 to our charity partners, split between Cheltenham FestivalsNational Literacy Trust and Mind to support their young people’s mental wellbeing programmes.

A selection of pieces will be published in a digital anthology in the new year to celebrate outstanding contributions from children and schools. We’ll keep you posted when it’s published!

You can hear some of our Beyond Words award winners reading their work here.

We’ll end with one of our talented finalists Grace reading her poem and sharing what inspired her. As Grace says, 'the language of 2020 was kindness'.

About Beyond Words

Beyond Words is a year-round creative writing project from Cheltenham Festivals that reaches out to young people with severe mental or physical illness. This is the fifth year of the programme in Gloucestershire. You can find out more about the project in this short video.

Mental health support and resources

2020 has been an extraordinary year and you may have experienced lots of changes in a short space of time.

We've put together a selection of free resources from some of our friends and partners to help support the mental wellbeing of children and young people, and the people who support them.