Young people share words of wisdom in Lockdown Diaries

Published by  Communications

On 9th Nov 2020

Lockdown Diaries Story Collection front cover imagery

‘Keep your distance for virus resistance.’ - Chester Gigg, Sprowston Junior School

‘Every minute spent with people you love is not a second wasted.’ – Jessica Rout, Cliff Lane Primary School


As the region enters a second national lockdown, young people from across East Anglia have used their previous lockdown experiences to unleash their creative talents, brought together in the Lockdown Diaries Story Collection, published today (Monday 9 November).

The collection pulls together poems, prose, proverbs, scripts and comic strips straight from the imaginations of 10-16 year-olds in East Anglia. It’s all part of the University of East Anglia's (UEA’s) Festival of Literature for Young People (FLY), an annual literature and creative writing festival for students.

This year’s festival was held remotely due to Covid-19. However, the consequences of the pandemic – lockdown, social distancing requirements and health concerns – was the inspiration for a theme that all the students could identify with and draw creativity from.

The Lockdown Diaries Story Collection is the culmination of a six-month project, with students initially taking part in the FLY 8 Week Challenge, an eight-week programme of short-form creative writing challenges set by UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC) and previous FLY authors, including worldwide bestseller Alexander Gordon Smith.

Each challenge asked the students to reflect on lockdown in 50 words or fewer, using a different creative writing technique each week, which included acrostic poems, proverbs giving guidance and advice on Covid-19, and observations on nature during lockdown.

This was followed by The Great Escape competition, which encouraged the students to tell the story of a great escape in one of four forms; poetry, prose, a comic strip or a script. The competition was supported by The Craft of Storytelling creative writing resource, which featured tips from top authors on how to write compelling and imaginative stories across a variety of mediums.

Over 250 entries were submitted across the two challenges from young people from 28 schools, as well as some home-schooled students, with the Lockdown Diaries Story Collection pulling together 35 of the best submissions from both. FLY is delivered by UEA’s Outreach team, which supports children who come from underrepresented backgrounds in higher education from Norfolk and North Suffolk.

Gracie Ashley and Lindsey Guardado are students at Smithdon High School who took part in FLY Festival and both had their acrostic poems selected for the collection (see below).

Gracie said: “The Lockdown Diaries really helped me to express everything at once, how lockdown made me feel but also how I knew we would come through this time. Lockdown is difficult for us all but if I could bring a bit of light to myself or to others, I would feel accomplished. The challenges tested my creativity and I allowed myself to have fun and let all my thoughts take over.”

Lindsey said: “I really enjoyed doing the Lockdown Diaries challenges as they've enabled me to express myself in creative ways, improve my writing skills and expand my ideas. I could show how I felt about lockdown and how hopeful we can be for life to be more normal again. I realised how much we take for granted. Therefore, I have been more appreciative of what I have and I find much enjoyment in the little things in life.”

Lauren Starkey, Outreach Events Officer at UEA, said: “We were overwhelmed by the positivity, resilience and creativity shown by the entries from students and we felt that, collectively, it would be a missed opportunity not to share them. Giving the students a creative outlet during a challenging time was something they really relished and that resulted in some brilliantly inventive stories.

“These students are living through extraordinary times and these diaries will stand as a creative record of what it’s like to be a young person in East Anglia in the year 2020.”

You can see the Lockdown Diaries Story Collection in full on the FLY Festival website.


Gracie Ashley’s acrostic poem:

Life flipped upside down

Overwhelming to all

Countries panicking

Key workers doing all they can

Dedicated to the job they love

Only we can explain

Walks keeping us sane

Never forget the NHS


Lindsey Guardado’s acrostic poem:

Life’s at a temporary stop right now

Our key workers fight, making us proud

Children bored, home from school

Kindness is shown to me and you

Dreams are vivid and weird but

Our mother nature’s speedily recovering!

When will lockdown end? We may ask

Nobody knows, only time will tell.

Latest News

28 Nov 2020

How ‘smell training’ could help overcome post-viral smell distortions

If you’ve been experiencing odour distortions after Covid-19, then ‘smell training’ could help you start smelling normally again – according to new research...

Read more >
 Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Laura Lehtovirta-Morley
30 Nov 2020

UEA joins national campaign to boost number of women in science and engineering

Leading female academics welcome University’s membership of a national women in science network.

Read more >
30 Nov 2020

COVID-19: Rapid testing launched to allow UEA students to return home safely for winter break 

Government-led COVID-19 testing for those who don’t have symptoms of the virus has begun at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to allow students to safely...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
26 Nov 2020

Half hour of exercise offsets risks caused by sitting

Half an hour to 40 minutes of daily exercise could offset the dangers of increasingly sedentary lifestyles – according to new World Health Organization...

Read more >
Shop closed due to lockdown
25 Nov 2020

Tier 1 didn’t work and tier reallocation “too slow”, research shows

Tier 1 restrictions in England have had “little impact” on Covid-19 transmission according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Researchers...

Read more >
25 Nov 2020

Domestic abuse frontline staff reveal strain of work in lockdown

In the upheaval of Britain’s first national lockdown, one crucial sector of social care workers were largely overlooked – but new research from the University of...

Read more >
Female footballer heading football
25 Nov 2020

Could female footballers face greater dementia risk?

Female footballers heading the ball could be putting themselves at even greater risk of dementia than male players according to experts at the University of East...

Read more >
Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson
24 Nov 2020

UEA leads change in tackling racial harassment in higher education

A UUK advisory group, led by Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, has published a set of recommendations to tackle racial harassment, with MED cited nationally...

Read more >
24 Nov 2020

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients

Strong sleeping pills known as ‘Z-drugs’ are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia – according to research from...

Read more >
19 Nov 2020

The lightbulb moment helping to save our environment

UEA’s Estates team has made CO2 savings equivalent to providing 60 homes with electricity for a year, all through the installation of energy-efficient bulbs in...

Read more >