What is the Community Reporting Movement


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.




Spanish Social Licensee training Community Reporters across the world

Intras our Spanish Social Licensee is running the Pals Web TV (Youth empowerment through Community Reporting and Peers Learning) supported by Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Youth project.

In the case of Nepal, Indonesia, Guatemala, Macedonia and Spain disadvantaged young people are less likely to be offered opportunities to build up key competences which our important for employment. Fundación Intras role in the project is to transfer to the partner countries, the knowledge, skills and tools to train Community Reporters, and to support these Community Reporters to train their peers.

The objectives of the project are to:

• Empower the foreign partner organisations working with disadvantaged youth through the transfer of the Community Reporting methodology.

• Promote acquisition and improvement of transversal skills in the area of ICT, innovation, business planning or internationalization.

The project will train 2 youth workers per partner on Community Reporting who afterwards will be in charge of transmitting the knowledge to the Community Learning Pals. Each partner will select 3 young people and train them for the role of Community Learning Pals, teaching them among other things:  Community Reporting techniques, the use of media and TV, ITC, community marketing and promotional technique.

Each partner will organise one pilot training per partner country, during which the Peer Learning Pals will transfer the acquired knowledge to 10 of their peers. In addition each partner will produce one multimedia story per participant- in the format of a TV show. Develop a “Pals TV app”, a mobile application which will contain blogs, videos and posts created by the youngsters participating in the project.

The partners are: Fundación INTRAS (Spain), Coordinator, Association for citizen’s tolerance and cooperation ACTAC (Macedonia), Campaign to Change Nepal (Nepal), Dejavato Foundation (Indonesia) and SODEJU Fundaju (Guatemala)

Germany: Community Reporting as a tool for citizen participation

Foto1As the project coordinator for Cologne within the EU Horizon 2020 project Grow Smarter  it is the city administration’s business to offer the required citizen participation activities. We decided to use the Community Reporting format as the adequate method.

What is Grow Smarter about?

Grow Smarter is an energy efficiency project in which existing technical solutions are combined to prove that it is possible to reach energy saving goals and to function as a best practice example. The project area is mainly the Stegerwald Settlement, part of the Cologne district Mülheim, situated near the Cologne fair and surrounded by railway tracks, a main road and an industrial zone. The housing blocks are mainly owned by one housing company. Sub-projects are for example the energetic renovation of the blocks with new insulation and installing of photovoltaic and heat pumps, the set up of a mobility hub with car sharing and rental bikes and a new way of car parking management. These will be combined in a smart home scenario for an easy use by the tenants.

The challenges we have to face:

This sounds quite exciting, but what we learned from the tenants during a first information event in November 2015 was – despite their approval of the rising living standard – their partial concerns about rent increase, electro smog and misuse of data.

So the question is how to get the tenants to acknowledge the various options of previously unknown new possibilities and to value the positive aspects of the project.

(C) Stadt Koeln

(C) Stadt Koeln

Our answer is to get the people living in the Stegerwald settlement to engage themselves in the project, to deal with the new technical and infrastructural offers and to get in dialog about their experiences with us (the project partners of the Grow Smarter) and amongst themselves. We are going to encourage and support this by offering Community Reporter workshops. The workshops will not only deal with the “regular community reporter stuff”. In addition we want to give the participants a deeper inside into the project for example by inviting project partner for interviews and by trying out the new technical offers. Participants will also be encouraged to come up with their own ideas for a change to a more energy efficient lifestyle.

Thus far in theory! At the moment we are promoting our Community Reporter workshops that are run by the Adult Education Centre. We don’t know yet if we find enough interested participants to implement a Grow Smarter Community Reporter group.

Another challenge we have to face is the concern of project partners about negative reporting. What if Community Reporters focus on – from their point of view – negative aspects of the EU-project? As long as Community Reporters stick to the editorial guidelines we – the project partners of the Grow Smarter project – have to accept this. And furthermore it is a chance for us to learn about the opinions, attitudes and concerns of the people who are affected most by the EU-project Grow Smarter – the tenants of the Stegerwald Settlement.
Therefor we open and offer a dialog between the involved parties. Since the beginning of this year the project coordinator offers a fortnightly open hour in the office of the housing company, situated in the Stegerwald Settlement. Citizens and residents can ask questions and come forward with suggestions concerning the project. These are passed on to and discussed with the project partners under the aspect of implementation.


In one years time we may know if the idea of using the Community Reporter format worked as a tool for citizen participation in our case. We’ll let you know!

Meanwhile we are very interested in your experiences with negative reporting and if it happened how you dealt with it. Please get in touch with us!

City of Cologne
eGovernment and Online-Services

Harald Gellhaus

Dirk Blauhut

Ute Dreiocker

How Customer-driven public service development functions in Finland

One of our partners in Finland has been exploring how customer driven public service development take place in Finland. This is an area that is growing across Europe as the way that public services are managed and developed changes.   Below is  a short synopsis from  Tuula’s work where she raises questions about  the importance of political involvement. The thesis was published in 2015 and there is a  link to the full thesis at the end of the blog post.

Tuula Jäppinen (1)Customer-driven public service development needs support from political decision-making and change management in Finland

Customer-driven development — even if underpinned by a national or a regional strategy —cannot alone drive changes unless the political decision-making process supports the implementation of service renewal.

“Citizens are increasingly more often included in the discovery phase and the generation of ideas” notes Tuula Jäppinen, an innovation adviser at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

She goes on to say  that “Citizen-driven development is a common practice in Finnish municipalities, and both the young and the old are eager to participate. Service design as a method makes their conscious and latent needs visible to developers, and new ideas flourish” 

Jäppinen found that  Citizens are eager to participate even in the actual co-production of services, volunteering to help their neighbours and relatives by offering transport, clearing snow, and assisting in shopping. The current public service system does not, however, support such initiative. The development of new service concepts, including the last two phases reality check and implementation, needs to be more closely linked to the decision-making process, .

These findings are from a local service development project, implemented in the towns of Oulu and Kajaani, and in the Kainuu region over the period 2013–2014. This project was carried out as a service design process and was managed by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

Further information:

Tuula Jäppinen, Innovation Adviser, D.Sc. (Admin.), Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities

The full findings can be found here:  https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/87102/Jappinen_Tuula_SID_Thesis.pdf?sequence=1

Community Reporter’s contribute to Big Lottery consultation

Over 120 stories were collected by reporters which contributed to the Your voice / Our vision consultation held by the Big Lottery. These stories supported the development of the new strategic framework. Thanks to the reporters for their contribution. You can see the film here.

Institute of Community Reporters to train 100 Community Reporters in 10 countries in Europe

People’s Voice Media Institute of Community Reporters will be training 100 Community Reporters across 10 countries to capture the stories of people’s experience of social investment and social innovation. The reporters will join the European Network of Community Reporters.

The Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening communities in Europe (InnoSI) project is a consortium led by the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit based at Manchester Metropolitan University. They are joined by nine other universities from across Europe and a group of impact partners led by the Euclid Network.

The consortium is embarking on a major research and innovation project looking at how innovative social investment policies can strengthen communities in Europe. The project, funded by the European Commission and lasting 30 months, asks important questions about how European welfare systems designed to protect against twentieth century social and economic risks need to change in the twenty first century.

The project director, Professor Chris Fox, stressed that this is not a traditional research project:

Understanding the experiences of people across Europe who are on the receiving end of social policies is key to our project. That’s why we will be working with People’s Voice Media recruiting 100 community reporters from across Europe and training them so that they can report the experiences of their communities.

The InnoSI project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.