Cathartic and powerful storytelling

Sharing my story helped me to be saved from it” – Forgiveness Project participant, shared by Marina Cantacuzino at Being the Story 2017.

Using creativity to form and tell a story can be very cathartic. The process of writing or singing or producing images – just getting ideas or thoughts out of your head, onto paper, shared with others – can be very powerful.

4 speakers from Being the Story 2017

Several of the speakers at the second Being the Story from the mighty Jude Habib and Helena Hastings at sounddelivery talked about how being creative helped them – either with recovery, or to give a sense of purpose or as a way of making sense of experiences.

So we heard from:

  • Eddie who had found a new addiction to photography to help him recover from his addiction to alcohol
  • Amanda, who as part of a collective of 12 women told their stories of street prostitution through their book An Untold Story
  • Homelessness support worker Bryony who writes amazing poetry and ‘dabbles’ in blogging to share the experiences of the people she works with and the frustrations of the system (see some of her work in this Storify from a Lankelly Chase twitter take over she was part of)
  • Simeon and Dylan who were launching a YouTube channel, DatsTV to change the culture around street violence and gangs, following their powerful documentary One Mile Away
  • Ric who worked with young people and shared his experience of being in care.

The day closed with the Missing People’s Choir, fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, made up of families with missing loved ones, joining together to make music. (You can pre-order their Choirs with Purpose album.)

Harnessing creativity

Being the Story shows that storytelling has many forms and is a powerful tool for the originator as well as the listener. Take your comms hat off, step back from the corporate end-goal of influence via a comms strategy or fundraising ask. Think instead about the creative healing process.

How can you help the people you help to creatively represent their stories (with of course all your professional duty of care and support)? And the next step, think about whether sharing or publicising those stories could heal or hinder that person. For some sharing a story can be empowering, for others it could make them feel even more vulnerable.

How can you use your own creativity to help tell the story of your work? As frontline staff dealing with difficult issues or complex problems, we need a way to process these thoughts and experiences too.

As with last year’s event, the delivery was the most impactful thing. Hearing someone’s story first-hand, there in person through whatever means (poetry, rap, photos etc) was everything. A written case study doesn’t do it justice. Video and audio are the closest alternatives to being in the same room, hearing someone’s story.

Do you know of examples of organisations showcasing the creativity of the people they help? I’d love to see more examples.

Solving problems

The day also shared stories of people solving problems.

  • Ray set up a group of Geezers to combat loneliness in Bow, East London.
  • Nick set up a brewery, Ignition Beer to employer members of the Tuesday Club.
  • As part of the Power of the Periphery Rachel tackles class inequality via the RECLAIM project.
  • Onjali set up HerStory to support women escaping domestic violence.
  • Marina founded the Forgiveness Project to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge.
  • Dom is producing an app called the Patient’s Virtual Guide to fill information gaps and social isolation for children in hospital.

Such brilliant people doing brilliant things!

Want to know more?

Read the Storify from the event to see what people said plus clips of the performances and links to find out more about the people and projects featured.

Plus read blog posts from Gemma Pettman, Karin Sieger and Katie Duckworth sharing their reflections from the day.

I wrote this about last year’s event. You can also watch videos from Being the Story 2016 including the amazing Emma Lawton which has now had 13,500 views.

Don’t miss next year’s event – keep an eye out for Being the Story 2018!

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