Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh is launching a creative writing competition in memory of Sophie Lancaster who was murdered in 2007 for dressing as a goth.

Julia and her husband, Shameless writer Ian Kershaw, had been talking about setting up a competition to give something back to young people in their community.

They decided to give it the go-ahead when they met Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie’s mother, who has set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her daughter’s memory, and is backing the competition.

The theme is Difference and the competition is open to state secondary schools in Greater Manchester, East Lancs and Blackburn With Darwen in two age categories: 11 to 13 and 14 to 16-years-old.

Julie, who plays transexual Hayley Cropper in Corrie, said: “Part of my work on Coronation Street has always been sort of championing those issues around us all being the same under the skin, despite whatever we’ve been in through in our lives or are going through and so that’s really important to me.”

There will be £100 for the winner in each category and £1,000 for each winning school, plus a star-studded reading of the short-listed entries at the Contact Theatre in Manchester in October.

Coronation Street’s Rosie Webster, played by Helen Flanagan, became a goth in the soap a few years ago.

Julie revealed: “Sylvia, was really taken by how much Helen looked like Sophie when she was being a goth in the Street and specifically asked me to ask Helen if she’ll be one of the readers on the night of the competition finale. It really struck a chord with her.”

The competition launches on March 15 and the judges will include stars and writers of Shameless and Coronation Street, plus This Is England’s Vicky McClure and poets Simon Armitage and Mike Garry.