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The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth is an international organisation consisting of 53 countries that are united in a common aim – to ensure peace, prosperity and security for their citizens. The Commonwealth encourages communities across the world to come together and work “Towards a Common Future” for everybody; a future that celebrates diversity and transcends religion, politics, class, gender, wealth and culture. Regardless of their size or stature in the global marketplace, all Commonwealth countries have an equal say in its initiatives and all have a crucial part to play in spearheading positive reform.

The Commonwealth’s extensive work includes:

  • Combatting climate change and conserving the environment
  • Promoting the use and availability of natural resources
  • Countering extremism and campaigning for civil and criminal justice reform
  • Empowering young people to make a difference
  • Addressing gender inequality
  • Promoting democracy and strengthening governance in politically unstable countries
  • Arranging the Commonwealth Games, which promote sportsmanship between member countries
  • Boosting trade opportunities, particularly for developing countries
  • Giving smaller countries a voice

You can read more about the Commonwealth at

Young Commonwealth is a pupil friendly site with lots of helpful resources:

The Commonwealth Summit (Heads of Government Meeting)

The Commonwealth Summit (also known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM) takes place every two years. This year, it will be hosted by the UK.

The biggest meeting of Heads of Government the UK has ever hosted, the Summit will take place in iconic venues in London and Windsor including Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Windsor Castle from 16-20 April 2018. It will bring together up to 53 Commonwealth leaders, up to 53 Foreign Ministers and thousands of people from across business and civil society, representing the Commonwealth’s vibrant and diverse global network.

The Summit’s theme is: ‘Towards a Common Future’ and is focused on building on the strengths of the Commonwealth to ensure this unique organisation is responsive to global challenges and delivers a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for all its citizens, particularly its young people.

Leaders will come together to focus on delivering: 

  • A more sustainable future: Without urgent action to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, the impacts of climate change could push an additional 100 million people across the world into poverty by 2030.  This is particularly relevant for the Commonwealth as 38 of the 53 members are small or other vulnerable states.  Each year across the Commonwealth, natural disasters affect 28 million people and cause economic losses of almost $8bn. The Commonwealth is well placed to take action, underlining its on-going commitment to tackling climate change, protecting the environment and increasing the resilience of its members.
  • A fairer future: The Commonwealth has a proud history of taking action to promote and protect democratic principles. The Commonwealth Charter sets out a shared vision of democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law. By upholding and promoting those principles, the Commonwealth can ensure a fairer future for all members of the Commonwealth, and provide the essential basis for sustainable development.
  • A more secure future: The unprecedented security threats we face are a shared 21st century issue. Challenges of terrorism, serious organised crime, cyber crime, violent extremism and human trafficking ignore borders and can only be addressed by increased multilateral action and cooperation. Commonwealth member states are ideally placed to partner, aid and learn from each other in tackling these threats.
  • A more prosperous future: The Commonwealth contains a diverse group of countries, including many of the largest and smallest economies in the world.  It is home to half of the globe’s top emerging cities and, with a combined population of 2.4 billion people, nearly a third of the global population. By working together, the Commonwealth can promote trade and investment as a means to drive economic growth, create jobs, and ensure the prosperity of its citizens.

You can read more about the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at and

Commonwealth Voices and Lancashire’s Celebration of the Commonwealth 2018

2018 represents a special year for the Commonwealth, with a number of critical events coinciding.

The Commonwealth Summit/Heads of Government Meeting will be hosted by the UK. Since it is likely that The Queen will not travel overseas to a future summit, this will probably be the last one that She attends personally, and therefore it provides an opportunity to celebrate Her Majesty’s connection with the Commonwealth.

The four year cycle of the Commonwealth Games sees Queensland play host in 2018. The year also marks the 100 year commemoration of Armistice Day and the end of the Great War, where it is important to remember that one in twelve Allied fatalities were from the pre-partition Indian Army, along with fallen soldiers from across the Commonwealth.

Whilst many of the main celebratory and commemorative events will take place in London, 2018 is a year to celebrate the Commonwealth across the country – and, indeed, across the Commonwealth.

Lancashire has a proud heritage closely connected to the Commonwealth. Many people in the diverse community in Lancashire have Commonwealth connections, including the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment which has formal allegiances with units in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.

The Commonwealth Voices Spoken Word Performance Poetry Competition provides an opportunity for the young people of Lancashire to embrace the Commonwealth in 2018, getting together to celebrate our rich and diverse Commonwealth connections and cultural heritage, and in doing so, honour The Queen.

To find out more about activities across Lancashire visit:

Spoken Word Performance Poetry Competitions (Poetry Slams)

In a Spoken Word Performance Poetry Competition, poets are given a time-limited period to explore their thoughts and opinions about a specific theme. Spoken Word Performance Poems are designed to be performed by the people who devised them and, as such, the way poems are presented to an audience can be just as important as what is being said. Whereas writing can be personal and private, Spoken Word Performance Poems are meant to be heard.

Whilst Spoken Word Poems performed during Spoken Word Competitions generally fall under the umbrella of “poetry,” the term is applied loosely and entries rarely take the form of a conventional poem. Poems can address the theme directly or abstractly – through a stream of consciousness or a speech, an anecdote or an allegory, a rap or a recital. There is no need to rhyme, and poems can be as inventive as desired, providing the words are clear and the message is meaningful. The aim is to explore the power of words to move and inspire people, and to create a piece that is thought-provoking, passionate and impactful.

Most Spoken Word Performance Poetry Competitions require entrants to submit a video of themselves performing their piece. A shortlisting process then takes place to identify the strongest pieces and performers. The selected finalists will then go head-to-head at a live event, where a judging panel – or, in some cases, the audience – decide on the overall winner.

Please read our Competition Rules for a full overview of our entry criteria and submission process.

The National Curriculum and Commonwealth Voices

Commonwealth Voices provides a vital learning opportunity for students to learn about the Commonwealth and the history of the British Empire, to explore the global challenges facing our world and to practice key Spoken English skills set out in the national curriculum.

English National Curriculum Links

English Key Stage 3: Spoken English

  • Giving short speeches and presentations, expressing their own ideas and keeping to the point
  • Improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and poetry in order to generate language and discuss language use and meaning, using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact.

English Key Stage 4: Spoken English

  • Planning for different purposes and audiences, including selecting and organising information and ideas effectively and persuasively for formal spoken presentations and debates
  • Improvising, rehearsing and performing play scripts and poetry in order to generate language and discuss language use and meaning, using role, intonation, tone, volume, mood, silence, stillness and action to add impact.
Spoken Word Poetry in Lancashire

The North West has a thriving spoken word poetry scene and there are opportunities for promising young poets to perform their spoken word pieces across Lancashire. Notable poetry performance groups include ‘Dead Good Poets’ in Blackpool, ‘Be:spoke’ in Blackburn, ‘Damson Poets’ in Preston, and ‘Lancaster Words.’

Lancashire has also hosted a number of spoken word poetry performance events in recent years. Internationally-acclaimed spoken word poet Benjamin Zephaniah gave a performance of his poetry at the Harris Museum in Preston in March 2015, and was joined by prominent Manchester poets Ali Gadema and Mike Garry.

Linton Kwesi Johnson, an anti-racism activist and the first ever black poet to be published by Penguin Classics, recently treated staff and students at the University of Central Lancashire to a compelling performance.

Wigan-born poet, Lemn Sissay, MBE, has also enjoyed a successful career as a spoken word poet and was named the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics. He released his first book of poetry in 1988 at the age of 21, and since the age of 24 he has been a full-time writer, performing internationally. He wrote Preston’s Guild Anthem and currently serves as the Chancellor of the University of Manchester. You can view his uplifting spoken word piece, ‘Inspire and Be Inspired,’ here:

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