Go outside your echo chamber, that’s where the reward is

First-hand stories, conversations, performances are very powerful to listen to. To have real impact they need to reach people who can make a change.

The message from this year’s Being the Story was that we need to take these stories out of the echo chamber.

9 images from Being the Story 2018

Following Being the Story 2016, I wrote about the power of empathy as a listener, how hearing a first-hand story can change hearts and minds. In 2017, I wrote how first-hand storytelling can be a cathartic process for the person telling their story.

This year the message was that lived-experience stories can drive change.

The impact of stories

During the day, we heard from people with lived experience who have been telling their stories in different ways and in different places. These stories reached the media, policy-makers, funders and other decision-makers. The stories were not only heard. They didn’t only generate empathy. In some cases, they led to being part of bigger change making.

For example, this year we heard how:

  • Simeon Moore from DatsTV has become a go-to speaker for the media about street violence since he appeared on stage in 2017. This profile has meant that policy-makers involve him in their plans
  • Caroline Kennedy is using her experience of poverty in Glasgow as a commissioner with the Poverty and Inequality Commission that advises the Scottish government on child poverty issues, sharing the personal stories of parents, from those with children with learning disabilities, to asylum seekers, all families experiencing poverty
  • Steve Arnott from Beats Bus took a chance and trusted film-maker Sean McAllister to make a film about him which has had a general release and will be shown on BBC2 later this year. This has given him a platform to speak about poverty but also build big plans for Beats Bus.
  • The Empathy Museum have taken their Mile in My Shoes series to the NHS Confederation Conference and Houses of Parliament so that decision-makers there listen and understand those first-hand experiences, and hopefully make changes for the better.

A call to action

‘Go outside your echo chamber, that’s where the reward is’ said trans activist Charlie Craggs who takes her pop-up nail bar round the country to generate conversations.

What can you do to help people with lived-experience to tell their stories? How can you help them to find new audiences away from the charity bubble? How can you help them to join with others to tell a bigger story? What can you do to connect them with the media and decision-makers so they are listened to and involved in finding the solutions?

Take inspiration from the sounddelivery team who work tirelessly behind the scenes to train their Being the Story speakers to tell their stories on the day and beyond. They connect them with other people working in similar areas. They put them forward to journalists.

sounddelivery keep themselves out of the story. Your organisation is not the story. The cause or issue and the lived-experience of it, is the story. Find people with lived experience and let them speak.

Being the Story 2018

Every single one of the speakers and performers from this year’s event was brilliant. Get a flavour of the day in the official Wakelet from the event.

Read more responses in the blog posts written about the event so far:

You can also look at the #BeingTheStory hashtag and read the programme from the event.

Being the Story – crowdfunder

Update from 2019 – Jude Habib has launched a crowdfunder to build a network of media confident storytellers. The project aims to support people with lived experience to tell their stories so they have real impact.

The fund is currently £500 off its first £5000 target at which point it will be doubled. Please support it if you can.

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