At Never Such Innocence we aim to give children and young people across the world a voice on war and conflict. We offer opportunities to reflect on conflict throughout history and today through poetry, art, song and speeches.

The charity began as a First World War commemoration project for children and young people.  Inspired by this conflict, more than 11,000 young people from 47 different countries, territories and dependencies created poetry, artwork, and songs. From 2019 we are expanding our focus to include Conflict in all forms and throughout history, up to and including the present day. Read more about the development of this next phase here.


Free Educational Resources
To inspire creative responses to war and conflict, we provide free educational resources. This acts as a starting point for young people to learn about conflict and the value of commemoration, and respond creatively through our competition. The First World War resource may be downloaded from the website here, and subject to availability we can send you two free hardcopies upon request by emailing Resources about war and conflict throughout history will be added soon, and we would love to hear your thoughts on what should be included.

The Competition
Our annual international cross-curricular competition enables young people to have their say on war and conflict through the creative arts.  The competition is completely free to enter.

NSI has run an annual poetry, art, and song competition for young people  worldwide for each year of the First World War centenary. After four successful centenary competitions, we are expanding our remit and reach. The new competition, launching in September 2019, will give children and young people an opportunity to process, respond to and reflect on conflict throughout the ages.

a selection of Winning art entries

a selection of Winning art entries

Young people aged 9-18 are invited to create a poem, song, speech, or piece of art reflecting on something they feel strongly about historically or currently, on an international scale, or within their local community or wider society.

Every entrant to our international competition receives a special personalised Certificate of Commendation. Winners are invited to a unique and exciting Awards Ceremony to collect their prizes and celebrate their work. All winning entries are published in a special Winners Booklet, previous Winners Booklets are available to download for free from our website.

To enable more children and young people than ever to engage with the centenary through music, we provide free songwriting workshops with our practitioners, Marty Longstaff and Bethzienna Williams.

A Lasting Centenary Legacy
During the First World War centenary we successfully engaged with children from the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, and indeed across the world. With nearly 11,000 entries from 47 countries, territories and dependencies across five continents, young people have come together to mark the centenary. These children have produced wonderful, profoundly moving work – all winning work has been published in our anthology book, Never Such Innocence: Children’s Responses through Poetry, Art and Song.   The winning songs have also been released on an album, the Songs of the Centenary - available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Trackd.

Unique Experiences

We provide unique opportunities for children to participate in very special, highly memorable occasions to provide a platform for them to share their reflections on war and conflict.

Through our poetry, art, speech, and song competition, children have the opportunity to perform at local and national events, major military events, Government activities, and High Commissions and Embassies.

Every winner, runner up, and recipient of Special Commendation is invited to our Awards Ceremony at a special location – previous ceremonies have been held at the House of Lords and The Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks!  These ceremonies and activities are a celebration of the children’s creativity and the importance of their voices. With help from the Armed Forces and our generous supporters we really do pull out all the stops!

Our community roadshow events bring unique experiences to young people in their communities, including museum tours, trips to RAF bases, Royal Navy ships and Army bases. We also provide free songwriting workshops to complement the roadshow!

Our global history and heritage

We emphasise the importance of building connections internationally and sharing creativity, and encourage young people to actively learn about their shared history and heritage.

In order to facilitate children and young people all over the world to participate and be heard, we work with High Commissions and Embassies to promote the competition and to produce our resource which draws on war and conflict across the world.  

We are proud to work with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Commission) to encourage young people to visit their local war graves, pay their respects, and use the visit to inform their competition entries.

Together: A UK-German Centenary Project gave young people from the UK and from Germany the opportunity to respond to the First World War with messages of unity and hope for the future.  The winners of the competition were invited to an Awards Ceremony in Berlin, sharing their work with each other and taking part in cultural activities as part of the trip.  The winning work can be viewed here.

We take our name from Philip Larkin’s famous poem MCMXIV, which reflects on the changes caused by the First World War. The driving force behind Never Such Innocence is Lady Lucy French, great-granddaughter of Field Marshal Sir John French who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces from 1914-15.