Orwell Prize awarded to Churchill Fellow
Churchill Fellow Annabel Deas (CF 2018) has been awarded a prestigious Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils. The prize is in recognition of Annabel’s BBC Radio 5 live podcast series, Hope High, reporting on county lines drug gangs, which she researched for her Fellowship.
Annabel says: “Winning the Orwell Prize is a huge honour and I’m thrilled that my work has been recognised in this way. County Lines is a serious issue affecting thousands of children in the UK every year. I hope that my podcast will continue to raise awareness of this and bring about the change which is urgently needed.”
Hope High is a documentary podcast that explores the impacts of drug trafficking on young people. The seven-part series tells the stories of teenagers in Huddersfield who have been recruited by organised gangs to sell drugs and investigates how this is often invisible to schools and local authorities.
The Orwell Prizes recognise outstanding work in politically engaged books, journalism and reporting. Jean Seaton, Director of The Orwell Foundation, said: “The series revealed an issue that communities and policy makers can only deal with if the forces that drive it are understood: policies need to address the right problems. Deas’s journalism, and the absorbing way the story unfolds, provides the essential material for a more realistic policy response and a more informed public. It is British public service journalism, impartial and hard hitting, at its best.”
Annabel is an investigative journalist at BBC Radio 5 Live. In 2018, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research best practice for telling the stories of marginalised people and communities in the USA. Upon her return, Annabel spent a year with a community in Huddersfield where a number of children were being exploited by county lines drug dealers. Keen to discover the real reason why some children were selling drugs and carrying weapons, and wanting to put her Fellowship findings into practice, Annabel was inspired to produce Hope High.
Annabel adds: “Being given a Churchill Fellowship was the first step in this project and I am extremely grateful to the Fellowship for believing in me and giving me that opportunity”.
After the release of the podcast thousands of people contacted the BBC and Annabel personally to express thanks for explaining why these county lines gangs take place. The project is now being taught at A-Level and on degree courses and is used as a resource by police and social services across the UK.