Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize for writers from refugee and migrant backgrounds


Spread the Word is supporting a fantastic new initiative from Footnote Press and Counterpoints Arts, who are launching the Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize for writers from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The submissions window will open from Monday 19 June to coincide with Refugee Week UK and closes on 1 October 2023.

The £15,000 award includes an advance of £5,000 and a publication agreement with Footnote Press. The prize is developed in association with the Southbank Centre, and supported by John Ellerman Foundation, Doughty Street Chambers, Spread the Word, Dartington Trust and the Bookseller.

The book does not need to be completed to qualify for entry. The submission sample and proposal must be for narrative non-fiction, centred around themes of displacement, identity and/or resistance. Footnote and Counterpoints welcome eclectic and expansive interpretations of displacement, identity and/or resistance and are especially interested in writing that sits at intersections, or across cultures, communities and borders, moving beyond the personal to touch upon some of the key social and political themes of our times. Anyone from a refugee or migrant background is eligible to submit an entry for the Prize if they are resident in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland, whether they have previously been published or not. Both agented and unagented submissions are welcome.

Footnote Press MD Vidisha Biswas said: ‘We are thrilled to be announcing the Footnote x Counterpoints Writing Prize, on the first anniversary of our launch. We are hugely grateful to all of our partners for their support and enthusiasm. This is such a vital and timely prize, very much in line with the Footnote mission, and will enable us to keep combating a culture of division and polarisation through the power of storytelling.’

Counterpoints Arts Director Almir Koldzic said: ‘We are delighted to be partnering with Footnote on this unique and timely prize, dedicated to showcasing and celebrating exceptional writers from refugee and migrant backgrounds. We know that the selected writers will thrill, inspire and move us and that their rich perspectives, informed by lived experiences, will shine a new light on some of the most pertinent topics shaping our lives and society.’

Spread the Word Director Ruth Harrison said: ‘Spread the Word is proud to be partnering with Footnote Press and Counterpoint Arts to support this new Prize. There has never been a more critical time to develop and platform new voices from refugee and migrant communities. We look forward to offering our programme of workshops to the selected writers and championing their work to publication.’

Submissions must consist of a sample of 8,000 to 10,000 words and a detailed proposal of c. 3,000 words. The closing date for entries is 1 October 2023. A shortlist will be announced in February 2024, and a winner and two runners-up will be announced in March 2024. A panel of three judges will be announced this August.

Five shortlisted authors will be invited to read and discuss their work at a live event hosted by the Southbank Centre in February 2024 as part of the Literature spring season 2024. Information on how to book tickets will be available at later this year.

Footnote will also be working with us at Spread the Word to host an e-workshop on developing a career as a writer and 1-2-1 meetings to provide ongoing support with the winning writers, as well as access to their programme of workshops and events.

The winner and both runners-up will also have the opportunity to go on a week-long writing residency to work on their books at Dartington Hall, a stunning Grade I listed heritage property set within a 1,200-acre private estate near Totnes.

To learn more about submission guidelines, eligibility and full terms and conditions, visit

Published 19 June 2023