Community Reporting is a storytelling movement that was started in 2007 by People’s Voice Media. Central to Community Reporting is the belief that people telling authentic stories about their own lived experience offers a valuable understanding and insight of their lives and supports people to have a voice to challenge perceptions and describe their own reality.
Community Reporting uses responsible story telling practices and digital tools such as portable and pocket technologies to support people to tell their own stories in their own ways. Stories are curated and we share these stories with other reporters as well as with the people, groups and organisations who are able to make positive social change.
The Institute of Community Reporters (the ICR) was established in 2012 and is responsible for developing the Community Reporting storytelling movement across the UK and Europe. It supports its Community Reporters (grassroots storytellers), trainers (facilitators of Community Reporting programmes) and Social Licensees (local organisations who support Community Reporting in their area) to run Community Reporting activities and to maintain the values of our practice. We believe in achieving positive change for communities by bringing peoples’ portrayals of lived experiences together to influence change from the ground up. We use a variety of storytelling techniques.
Snapshot Stories: These stories engage people in talking about their opinions on a particular topic. Rather than the more detailed and nuanced understandings that the two techniques below provide, this method aims to gather quick insights into the topic and can be used as a ‘starter’ storytelling activity to engage people in telling their own stories. As part of this technique an open question is asked to an individual and they respond to it with their opinion.
Dialogue Interviews: These are peer-to-peer ‘interviews’ that do not have pre-determined questions. Instead, an opening question (i.e. a conversation starter) is asked which enables the storyteller to start to tell their story and then the Community Reporter recording the story may ask any questions within this storytelling process that naturally occur to them.
Personal Monologues: In this type of story, people record themselves talking about a particular topic, experience, life journey etc. These stories are planned in a variety of different ways such as mind-mapping exercises, journey story maps, story and ideas boards, and story element planning sheets. These tools enable people to gather their ideas and structure their thoughts in their own ways before they tell their story. Our method aims to enable people to give a 360 degree understanding of their world in relation to a particular theme or topic, rather than just focusing on the theme or topic.
The stories are posted on our Community Reporter web site where they are collated and form the basis of our curation activities. This process involves the layered analysis of individual and groups of stories, accompanied by a series of packaging activities (e.g. feature article writing, edited films, word clouds etc.).
Once stories have been curated, we seek to mobilise the knowledge in them by connecting the packaged content with the people, groups and organisations with the power to make positive social change, which might include public agencies, research institutes or universities. We also arrange conversation of change events where stories from different perspectives are told to co-produce new ways of working between the different stakeholders.
See examples of how stories are used to influence services.