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Posts tagged ‘voices’

You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine

Coming from a sector of journalism where personal ‘everyday’ stories are given the utmost value, I’m already sold on the idea that sharing one person’s human experience can be powerful, meaningful – and sometimes just plain old heartwarming.

So when I heard how telling real stories was forming the foundation of a unique, innovative project, called Storying Sheffield, in the English department of the University of Sheffield, I was immediately interested and intrigued in the idea behind the scheme.

The project led by Dr Brendan Stone involved undergraduate English students being paired with people from the Sheffield community, who were happy to share some experiences/memories/revelations about the lives they had lived so far to form a multi-media representation of themselves, and the city they called home.

The volunteers who told their story came from groups who tended to be socially-excluded, such as long-term users of mental health services. I had the chance to some of them talk about the profoundly positive effect Storying Sheffield had on their lives, at a one-day showcase of the resulting exhibition last Friday. http://www.storyingsheffield.com/

As Dr. Stone said in his introduction: ‘Telling stories is healing.’ I couldn’t agree more. These sweet snapshots of lives were told through a mixture of films, audio recordings, written text, food (yes, real food!), pictures, photographs – and even some live performance poetry.

I found this show of normally unheard voices as moving to consume as I’m sure it had been to create. From hearing some of the participants speak, it was a life-changing experience and tapped into a deep instinct we sometimes are in danger of forgetting in our 24-hour, there’s-an-app-for-that culture – for as long as we’ve existed as a species sharing stories with others has been a fundamental need, as essential as the air we breathe and water we drink.

There must be something in the great Sheffield air, as last week I introduced a new social enterprise I’m a voluntary director for called Silent Cities. http://www.silentcities.org.uk/ One of our major aims is to harness creativity and give voices to those in society who are often left silent. It’s good to know we share this spirit with such a ground-breaking project like Storying Sheffield.

Until next week, keep sharing your stories!

Silent voices speaking out

Sometimes it’s hard to see qualities in yourself which might seem obvious to others. In my working life, I’ve met plenty of fantastic journalists – people who have spent their careers crafting and weaving text to educate and entertain – who visibly balk at the mention of the ‘c’ word. As soon as it’s uttered, I have watched them recoil in horror. ‘No, I’m not like that,’ they shudder. ‘Not one of those…’

And no, before you think I’m being horribly rude, I’m not talking about that ‘c’ word. Dear readers, I’m actually waxing lyrical about what is too often regarded as an ‘airy fairy’ aspect to our characters. It’s a natural human trait, elevated to a higher value before we hit adulthood, why does the idea of creativity get a pretty raw deal in ‘grown-up’ sectors of society?

I can understand why the phrase ‘creatives’ induces this indifferent attitude. But I don’t buy into the idea that there are some people will never have this ‘gift’ – that only the elite, certain sophisticated souls, can possibly be creative.

Everyone can harness this capacity if they are given the opportunity and space to let their imagination and confidence grow. So when my inspirational friend Justine Gaubert (http://twitter.com/SilentShe) asked me to become a voluntary board member of a new social enterprise she was setting up, which builds creative environments where silent voices can flourish, I jumped at the chance to be involved.

So, drum roll please, may I introduce you to Silent Cities – http://www.silentcities.org.uk/

As Silent Cities has just been born, I’m all too aware we are at the beginning of a long rollercoaster journey but as a board we are full of purpose, hope and commitment…. and of course creativity! Watch this space for more news about Silent Cities – we are starting off by piloting the scheme in Sheffield, so if you are in or live nearby the Steel City and would like to get involved as a volunteer in any capacity please register your interest on the website.

And keep those imaginations flowing!