But why storytelling?

Author: Caroline Barker

The perfect timing

When the ‘Reaching Out’ initiative was launched we had just understood how limited some of our work was in terms of diversity. For those unaware, the initiative aims to encourage the development of new relationships with emphasis on those who are not usually, or consistently, involved in research.  
Here was our chance to have some dedicated resource (in the form of a project budget) to start to try and overcome our local diversity issues. I say start, because we are being realistic that our project is just the beginning and there is going to be much more work to be done after this.

Speaking to our local residents

We were lucky to attend the Southampton Mela festival – an international festival. Here we spoke with ‘research naïve’ diverse local residents and learnt that many people lacked the confidence to get involved.

A chance encounter

Earlier in 2018 I came across Debs, and the research project she’d run really stuck with me. A quick google taught us that Debs runs Touch Network, who run storytelling workshops. These workshops help people gain the confidence to stand up and share their story… and the idea to use storytelling was born.


Our storytelling workshop will bring together individuals to celebrate diverse communities. Attendees will be guided through a workshop to write our own story of what community means to us. These stories will be shared with the group.

The workshop will be out in the community, at a relaxed tabletop gaming café (Board in the City) that prides itself on its all-inclusive culture. Being in a relaxed environment was important for us – we know that academic or hospital settings can create barriers for some.

Staff, public contributors and community members alike will all take part in the workshop. We want all relationships with the public in PPI to be as equals, and it is important that we demonstrate this principle throughout our work.

I hope the day will help us to build confidence in the community members. Confidence to speak up, but also the confidence in the project team. The confidence that we are here and are ready and wiling to listen to what they have to say. I am also really excited to hear everyone’s story about their community.

More on what we’re planning next in another post.

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