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Our Stories from Lockdown

An anthology of 30 stories of lockdown, from people with experience of prison, homelessness, addiction, and families of people in the armed forces.

When the history of the Covid-19 lockdowns is written, who will be the storytellers and of whose lives will they tell? Will they tell of the prisoners spending 23+ hours each day locked in a cell, inhaling and exhaling, over and over again, the same recycled air? For months on end. With no visitors? Will they tell of those addicts who were just starting to recover and rebuild, only to find themselves back on the edge? Or the people down your street who had nowhere to live, or those whose house was never really a home? What about the families of service personnel, or young people stuck at home?

These are experiences from inside the storm. From people whose stories are rarely heard. This anthology includes works of prose, poetry, drama, and art. Powerful, often irreverent, heartfelt: voices that history cannot forget. A chain of words, poetry and art that binds us all together. A chain that will survive beyond this turbulent time and stand as a testament of who we were during it.

Praise for Paperchains

There have been many amazing projects to help people during the pandemic and
Paperchains is one of the very best.’
HRH the Duchess of Cornwall

‘Paperchains is unfettered alchemy in dire times. It has ignited positivity in those it has touched. It is a domino effect of artistic perfection, provoked by oblivion in the benevolent spirit of Brooke, Sassoon, and Owen.’
Ian Thornton, Novelist and Producer

‘The greatest human connectors are words—but sometimes getting your words heard is almost impossible. Paperchains is a brilliant conduit for the words of those who rarely get heard.’
Erwin James, Inside Time and The Guardian

‘Paperchains is a wonderful project. Creativity lies at the very heart of our industry and, in what has been an unprecedented time for so many people, families and organisations both here in the UK and around the world, it is great to have been involved in an initiative that shines the light on voices that are often less heard, capturing the spirit of lockdown in an uplifting way.’

David Austin, Chief Executive, BBFC

‘It’s clear many people’s voices are marginalised in the UK. Paperchains is one way to help create a polyphony we can be proud of.’
Tom Palmer, writer

Woodcut of paperchains

About Paperchains

Paperchains was founded by A.G. Smith and David Kendall in spring 2020 to form a chain of words, poetry, art and lyrics that binds us all together. 
Find out more at

A.G. Smith created and co-founded Paperchains. His work in prisons has been highlighted by C4’s Secret Millionaire and BBC Radio 4’s PM. A.G. Smith has written for Inside Time, The Big Issue and contributed to The Bookseller and The Financial Times.

David Kendall co-founded Paperchains. He has worked on a wide variety of projects with prisoners and their families, young people in care, and rough sleepers. He is co-director and founder of Penned Up, a literature festival that is organised by and for prisoners. In 2020 Penned Up was recognised by The Big Issue as one of their Top 100 Changemakers.


Paperchains Info

Edited by Sam Ruddock
Foreword by Stephen Kelman
Introduction by David Kendall and A.G. Smith
Afterword by Nell Leyshon

Paperback ISBN: 9781912665129
Ebook ISBN: 9781912665136
Published by Story Machine
Paperback Original
Thank you to Arts Council England for supporting this anthology and the show that brings it to life. We couldn’t do what we do without the work Arts Council England does to facilitate and fund creativity for all.

Lottery Funded. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.


Planet Positive Publishing

Story Machine is committed to putting the environment first. This book is printed using processes that are:


Paperchains Live

Paperchains will come alive as a powerful show touring prisons and venues in 2022.

Click here for more information about the live show. 

Additional information

Weight 0.35 kg


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