Reporting Homelessness

The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness encourages entries from anyone reporting on the issue, from those with lived experience of homelessness in all its forms to journalists shining a light on the problem and its potential solutions.

The prize is open to work first created or published between 1st April 2023 and the deadline of 31st March 2024. Entries can be in any medium other than books including video diaries, reporting, essays, and podcasts. For full eligibility details please see the rules, available here.

This year’s judges are radio and TV presenter Paddy O’Connell (Chair of Judges); firefighter, author and academic Sabrina Cohen-Hatton; Freya Marshall Payne, writer, researcher and winner of The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness 2023 and the poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay. The judges review every entry.

Down, Not Out

Our accompanying podcast series Down, Not Out, produced in partnership with the Centre for Homelessness Impact and the Prison Radio Association, is there to offer insight and inspiration, as well as all the information you need to enter the prize. In each episode host Paddy O’Connell speaks to guests with personal experience as well as experts in the field to explore experiences which often go unexplored in mainstream discussions of the issue, from the ‘hidden’ data around female homelessness to the challenges faced by young people growing up in care.

The full series is available to stream today wherever you get your podcasts.

About the Prize

The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness will be awarded for evidence-led reporting and/or commentary on homelessness in all its forms, including rough or hostel-sleeping, sofa-surfing, precarious and temporary housing and the fear of homelessness that comes with it. The Prize is sponsored and supported by the Centre for Homelessness Impact.

In Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), George Orwell’s vivid reportage combined evidence with empathy, describing the root causes of homelessness and poverty and their brutal impact. Crucially, he wrote about those on the receiving end of injustice with respect and dignity.

Launched in 2023, the ninetieth anniversary year of the book, we and our partners the Centre for Homelessness Impact want The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness to shine a light on new forms of homelessness including temporary and precarious housing, sofa surfing and beds in sheds as well as rough sleeping and hostel-dwelling.

Orwell portrays the people he meets, living in filthy, bug-ridden boarding houses and on the streets of Paris and London, as victims of circumstance, not culpable for their own misfortune or wretchedness. It is this spirit of writing that The Orwell Prize for Reporting Homelessness will recognise and reward.

We want the new Prize to celebrate evidence-led reporting and to focus attention on simple questions: What does homelessness look like in contemporary Britain? Why do we still have hundreds of thousands of people affected by homelessness despite decades of efforts to find solutions? What do we know of what works, to prevent people from falling into homelessness or to help them exit once they do? Is there any new thinking or promising innovation that evidence suggests may yield better results than current approaches?

Orwell believed passionately that the way in which an issue was described was as important as the topic itself. Evidence shows that in modern writing about homelessness, stigma, stereotypes and false narratives appear so frequently that they present a tangible barrier to public understanding of the problem. Our independent judges will look out for terminology that avoids implications of blame for the circumstances in which people find themselves.

Writing for the prize – additional guidance

Writing about and sharing your own experience or the experiences of those close to you is never easy, but it is especially difficult with an issue like homelessness. Entering a prize also comes with an added degree of uncertainty. Unfortunately, there is always the potential for disappointment.

We and our partners at the Centre for Homelessness Impact are committed to celebrating and promoting new writing and other forms of reporting on homelessness, and it is always a privilege to receive your entries. However, we would always recommend talking to a friend or someone you trust before deciding if taking part in the competition is the right decision for you.

This year, we are also taking some additional steps to ensure that entering the Prize is as clear, transparent and encouraging a process as possible. If you are submitting new work that has not been published elsewhere, you can opt in to receive personal feedback on your entry when the results are announced. Alternatively, you can choose only to hear from us if we have good news. Otherwise, we will be in touch with all entrants in late May, when the shortlist is announced, to confirm the results.

As in 2023, we are also committed to publishing a selection of outstanding previously unpublished entries. If your piece is chosen for publication, we will be in touch before the final shortlist is announced. By entering the Prize, you are giving us permission to publish your work, but we will always do our best to confirm that you are still happy to do so before publication.


In addition to the online form, a written entry form is available for those without access to the internet. Written entries and completed entry forms can be sent to: The Orwell Foundation, Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT.

If you or your organisation would like to receive an application pack please get in touch at Please remember to include a consent form if you are entering on behalf of the entrant.

Thank you for your interest in the Prize – we wish you the best of luck.