The media is both a window into, and a shaper of the ideologies and behaviours of society. Through it, we can catch glimpses of society’s future trajectories. 

Working with actors from the social, political and research spheres as part of the EUARENAS project, we have conducted a snapshot analysis of contemporary media discourses from across Europe. These insights have provided us with an understanding of current issues within society and we have used these to begin hypothesising about the future of our democracies. 

From this initial work, we would like to pose three core questions that we feel are relevant to policy makers, researchers and civil society actors working in the domain of deliberative and participatory democracies: 

  1. How do we mobilise people to be a part of creating the change they want to see and move from talk to action?
  2. How do inequalities and structural issues impact on how our democracies work and who is included in them?
  3. How do we work with differing priorities between different people, organisations and countries in ways that make useful progress on issues?

A short insight briefing titled ‘Future challenges and opportunities for democracy across Europe: An initial exploration of signals and drivers of change’ from this preliminary work on the project has been produced. In 2022, we will be unpicking these questions further as part of a conference in Italy… watch this space for further details.


With our focus being on social change, we’ve been experimenting with how we can evidence the impact of our work for a few years and never felt we got it quite right… Then we had an idea – why don’t we use stories?

That might have seemed liked the obvious solution for an organisation that specialises in using lived experience storytelling as a change-making tool, but it took us a few attempts at trying to measure our impact using other approaches to reach this conclusion. Anyway, we decided we’d pilot using reflective storytelling as an impact measurement tool between April 2020 and March 2021… and what a year did we pick to do this!

Although, we have been refining our approach to measuring impact even more this year (April 2021 – March 2022) – still focused on stories but with a keener eye on what isn’t working – we are happy to share last year’s write-up with you now.

So here it is… our first social impact report. Let us know what you think!


Earlier this month our team finally – after almost a year of working remotely – managed to me the EUARENAS consortium in-person in Helsinki, Finland. Although, the jam-packed meeting schedule meant that we didn’t get to see much of what Helsinki has to offer, we did get to get into discussions about participatory and deliberative democracies. So, here’s a bit of a run down of what we took away from the meeting…

On day one, the City of Helsinki presented a case study of how they’d been engaging with citizens. A big takeaway for us was that the first step in this process was the creation of principles for participation that help guide all future activities. The importance of being clear on what underpins participation was a key point highlighted by the City as this helps you to navigate what follows – sort of like how Responsible Storytelling practices underpins Community Reporting, an acts as a guide on storytelling practice.

When discussing how the case study research into existing deliberative and participatory practices would be conducted, partners exchanged thoughts on how Community Reporting and focus interviews could be used to gather different perspectives on each case study. Questions over how authentic people would be with their accounts if it was not anonymous and how we could enable political leaders and other decision-makers to speak honestly given that what they say may cause issues in their careers were raised. The takeaway from this discussion for us was how fundamental relationships of trust are to this type of work, and the importance of creating spaces in which people can share their experiences openly. Hopefully, the project’s forthcoming guidelines on how to work with different actors in the research processes will help in this respect.

On day two, we started to create a common project language – or glossary of terms – that we would use with consistency across the different research activities in the project. What was interesting during this activity was the different perspectives that people from academic, policy and civil society brought to the discussion. Some opted for more pragmatic and to-the-point definitions of key terms, whereas others went for more nuanced and intricate definitions. For us, it seemed that people’s sector played a bigger role in how they approached the definitions than cultural differences.

This day was also our time to shine and provide the partners with some training in Community Reporting. We played a clip from a story from the EuroCohort project and it was great to see how people reacted to it. When the clip was playing our ‘agenda less’ and ‘peer-to-peer’ approach made sense to our partners and they quickly got to grips with some of our techniques and dialogue interviewed each other about their own experiences of democracy. We also showcased an initial set of guidelines that we’ve been working on that combines lived experience storytelling and future-thinking. Partners will be testing out these guidelines over the coming months and by Summer 2022, we’ll have a public set to release – so please do, watch this space!

On the final day, LUISS delivered an interactive workshop on impact. As part of the workshop we worked in groups to start to determine the impact indicators of the pilots in the project. A key point in the subsequent discussion was how do we develop indicators for less tangible impacts (i.e. better quality relationships). This is something that purely quantitative evidence could not demonstrate and is a core thing the project will be grappling with.

And finally, we wanted to give a bit of a shout out to a new tool we were introduced to LUISS – Aha slides: This online tool helps with live quizzing and word cloud generation via a presentation format, and seemed to work really well from a range of devices. Definitely one we will be trying out in the future!


People’s Voice Media have teamed up with the NHS in Greater Manchester to gather local people’s recent experiences (i.e., the last 12 months) of GP services. We are gathering these stories to explore what GP services are like for people who are accessing them, exploring what is working well and what could be better. The stories will be used to open up a public conversation in Greater Manchester about GP Services by sharing different people’s stories online and in real world settings.

Who we are looking for

We are looking to commission existing Community Reporters and/or people with experience of storytelling and lived experience based in Greater Manchester to help to gather these stories from communities they are connected with. We are interested in hearing from a diversity of voices from across the area. If you would like to apply for this commission, you would need to:

  1. Be able to attend a briefing/training session online at 10am – 12:30pm, Thursday 14th December.
  2. Be able to gather at least audio and/or video 3 stories (this could include you own) about recent experiences of GP services and return them to us (with consent forms) by 7th January. These stories must be from people living in Greater Manchester. Stories can be gathered in-person or online.
  3. Be able to undertake this commission on a freelance/self-employed basis.


The fee for attending the training AND gathering 3 stories with consent forms is: £200 
The fee for attending the training AND gathering 5 stories with consent forms is: £275

A member of our team will support you remotely to undertake this commission and help overcome any difficulties.

People who contribute their story will also be provided with a £10 e-Gift voucher as a thank you. 

How to get involved

To apply for this commission please complete this short form by 5pm Tuesday 30th November and we will let successful applicants know by 3rd December. 

Or if you’d like to share your story you can:

  1. Email and we will find a way to include your experience in this piece of work
  2. If you have an account on the Community Reporter website, you can upload your own story directly to it (and on ‘ICR Activity’ label it ‘Experiences of GP Services’. Drop us an email to tell us it is there on and we will arrange your £10 e-Gift voucher as a thank you.

Alternatively, if you are an organisation or group in Greater Manchester that would like us to run a free online (or potentially in-person) storytelling session with you, to give you the opportunity to contribute a story then please do get in touch by 30th November on


Last month we worked with the Women’s Voice Movement and Inspiring Change Manchester to look at the different types of strengths that women have as part of a Conversation of Change event.

Over the last year, we’ve been working with women to gather stories about their experiences of the pandemic, some of which you can listen to in this short film. From these stories, we could hear how women were talking in different ways about how they have got through lockdowns, how they have supported others, how they have supported themselves and other related topics. This led us to think about how can we highlight the different strengths and capacities that women have and how can we ask services to think differently about how they work with women?

With this in mind, we invited women from across Manchester and people working in services that support women to an online discussion about the strength of women. From this discussion, we identified that the women in the stories we listened to:

  • have lots of ability and skills but find it hard sometimes to identify them or speak about them publicly
  • are good at adapting and finding ways to get through tough times
  • really resilient and can change direction when needed
  • value having spaces to stop, think and reflect
  • are great at supporting one another
  • value connections – including with individuals, services and their faith – when facing difficult times

From this, we began to explore what services and we could start to do different to work with women’s strengths in more meaningful ways. Ideas such as reframing questions that services ask women about their lives from ones that always focus on negatives, to ones that identify strengths and creating flexible spaces were women can talk, share experiences and reflect with others about how to address challenges they are facing were discussed.

The group of women behind the workshop are now in the process of making plans to continue this conversation and take some of these ideas forward into action.