The second annual Institute of Community Reporters (ICR) conference
6th – 7th October 2020

We’ve all heard of DIY, right? Well, why do things by yourself when you can do it with others? This year’s Institute of Community Reporters annual conference is celebrating the power of collaboration and we’d love you to join us.

2020 has been quite a year, and throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic, we have really seen how important our connections with others are and what good can come when people truly start to work together towards common goals. In the spirit of this year’s theme, People’s Voice Media will be working with a range of people and organisations to deliver a jam-packed couple of days of talks, workshops and discussions on the concept of collaboration. This will be a mixture of online events and (hopefully) small, localised real-world activities that adhered to current COVID-19 related restrictions.

On the 6th and 7th October, different speakers, facilitators and change-makers will be exploring:

  • The different practical approaches that people have used to bring about positive change
  • The values and ethics of collaboration
  • The challenges and barriers to working with others in equitable and meaningful ways
  • And much more!

We’re looking for local residents, Community Reporters, grassroots change-makers, community workers, researchers, public service workers, policy makers, artists and creatives, health and social care providers, philosophers and educators and trainers to attend these and contribute their experiences and ideas to the conversations on the day. We hope to create a dialogue of different perspectives, challenge and provoke one another’s thinking, and sow the seeds of new connections between people.


#COVIDConversations / Online Event / 10:30pm – 12:00pm
Members of the Community Reporting movement have been gathering stories from across Europe of people’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. With a focus on connecting with people who are often the least resourced and less likely to be in positions of power, these stories represent everyday experiences of communities across Europe. It is important that these voices – those that are often unheard – are part of this on-going narrative and involved as active actors in rebuilding our future. Join Isaac Samuels and Sally Percival from the Community Reporter network to listen to some of these stories and explore what we can learn from them! REGISTER HERE.

Re-humanising the system – Launch Event / 1:30pm – 3:30pm / @ SQUASH, 112-114 Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 8EQ 

People’s Voice Media works across the UK and Europe with people to gather stories about how people experience the world. These stories have shown us that we need to ‘rehumanise’ services and put heart-led practice at the centre. We must step out from behind the spreadsheet and connect with others at an emotional level in order to move forward. 

As part of this event we will be launching a policy briefing about the rehumanisation of services that draws on the stories with have gathered as part of the CoSIE public service innovation project, through our partnership with NCAG in the health and social care sector and our collaboration with Ideas Alliance on experiences of poverty in Dudley. Hayley Trowbridge, from People’s Voice Media, will share with you some of the stories that have informed our thinking and there’ll be an opportunity for you to explore with others how you can use the learnings from the stories and recommendations in the briefing in your own context. 

This event is for people living/working in Liverpool and surrounding areas only and places are limited. We are only able to provide a space for people who register so please, REGISTER HERE.

COVID-19: Whilst we hope to hold this event in an offline setting (as proposed), this will be determined by the restrictions in place around COVID-19 at the time and most importantly the safety and health of everyone involved. If a small-scale, offline event is not possible, we will switch this to an online event held on Zoom.

Collaboration Ideas Jam / 5:30pm – 7:00pm / @ SQUASH, 112-114 Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 8EQ 

We’re inviting people from across Liverpool and surrounding areas to deliver 10-minute talks on the topic of collaboration – this could be a personal experience of working collaboratively, dilemmas that have occurred, radical re-thinkings of what we mean by collaboration, tools, techniques and practices for collaboration and much more. Cat Duncan-Rees from Curators of Change will facilitate the ideas jam and we want people with ideas to share, who are passionate about this topic and can be honest and open in the post-talks discussions to attend. We are interested in exploring the good, the bad and the ugly sides of collaboration – Join us for these fiery talks and a lively discussion.

This event is for people living/working in Liverpool and surrounding areas only and places are limited. We are only able to provide a space for people who register so please, REGISTER HERE.

COVID-19: Whilst we hope to hold this event in an offline setting (as proposed), this will be determined by the restrictions in place around COVID-19 at the time and most importantly the safety and health of everyone involved. If a small-scale, offline event is not possible, we will switch this to an online event held on Zoom.

Where next for co-creating public services? Policy Seminar / Online Event / 10:30am – 12:00pm

Over the last 3 years, the CoSIE project has been investigating co-creation in public services across Europe, using applied research methods. There are public service pilots in 9 countries working with different services including social care, housing, and economic development. They have explored various tools and techniques for co-creation, examined how co-creation can lead to innovation, investigated the power dynamics involved in such collaborations and much more. This policy seminar will explore the latest ideas from CoSIE, illustrated by lived experience stories from people involved in these co-creation processes.  It will foreground in particular co-creation as an approach based on assets and capabilities. In the UK co-creation is perhaps most commonly associated with social care, but in this session we will explore how these ideas can take root in different services including criminal justice (the topic of the UK CoSIE pilot), homelessness and supporting people with chronic health conditions. Challenges such as managing risk, resourcing, staffing, evaluation and scaling up co-creation will be considered. The session will be facilitated by Christopher Fox and Susan Baines. There will  be opportunities for the audience to interact and discuss ideas about the future of co-creation with our panel members (Panellist TBC soon!). REGISTER HERE.

Digital Collaborations / Online Event / 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Join Sarah Henderson from the People’s Voice Media team and partners from the European project – Co-Engage – for an online knowledge exchange about different digital and online methods and tools that supports collaboration and civic engagement. The session will be a mixture of case study presentations with inside tips and know-how, coupled with meaningful discussion amongst peers that looks at how technology can be used to connect us, but also what are its limitations? REGISTER HERE.


As part of National Co-Production Week 2020, we teamed up with Curators of Change and the National Co-Production Advisory Group (NCAG) to deliver the Co-Production: Can you feel it? workshop. This workshop provided a space for attendees to listen to different people’s experiences of health and social care and reflect on what they key points of these stories were.

Whilst there are undoubtedly positive experiences of health and social care, the stories also painted a clear picture about some of the issues in the sector. Specifically, the stories highlighted the need to ‘rehumanise’ services and move beyond bureaucracy and process, and focus on connections and relationships.

With this in mind, discussions moved onto how we – the people in the ‘room’ – can practically begin to take steps to make this happen. Key to this discussion were questions such as – What can we do from our own sphere of influence? What power to affect change do we have? How can we use our power? What is our responsibility to make change?

Loads of suggestions were brought to the table and here’s just a few:

  • Trust people – they know what works for them
  • Stop following entrenched and broken systems
  • Ensure there is transparency and clarity
  • Get out from behind the computer and go and see/meet people
  • Professionals should share more of their whole self – be human too!
  • Empathy – connect at an emotional level, not a process level

In October we will be taking the knowledge from this session and the stories, and combining it with other learnings from similar discussions and events, and will launch a policy briefing on the topic. A big thank you to everyone who has given their stories, time and energies so far and watch this space!


Are you a Community Reporter, Social Licensee or one of our Partners? Then join us for an online catch-up with other members of our UK and European network. We run 2 online catch-ups per year and they are a great way for members to keep up-to-date with what is happening in the Institute of Community Reporters (the ICR), learn new stuff and share expertise, find out about opportunities to get involved with, meet other members, network and much more.

It’s only an hour, so grab a brew and a biscuit, log on and find out what exciting stuff is happening across our network! Register here.


2:00pm / Welcome and the ICR Update – Hayley Trowbridge (People’s Voice Media)

Find out the latest news from the ICR including previous and upcoming events and training opportunities for the network. 

2:15pm / What stops us from being well? – The Men’s Room (Manchester) 

Hear how The Men’s Room has used Community Reporting as part of an Arts project, future plans for the project and listen to a soundscape produced from the stories. 

2:30pm / The new Community Reporter website – Sarah Henderson (People’s Voice Media)

At the start of September 2020, we will be launching an updated Community Reporter website. Sarah, will demonstrate what’s new on the site and also lead a discussion about future development plans. 

2:45pm / News, Opportunities and Questions from the ICR network 

Your chance to share what Community Reporting activities you’ve been up to, hear about any opportunities in the network and ask questions to the network or for help from other members.

3:00pm / End of Catch-Up and back to work! 😉  

*Save the date for the next ICR Online Catch-Up – Tuesday 9th March 2021, 2pm – 3pm (UK time)* 


Earlier in June we ran an online knowledge exchange that shared our learning from the CoSIE project with fellow practitioners from across the UK and beyond. The workshop focused on the ways in which we had worked with public services across 9 different European countries to embed storytelling into co-creation processes. We explore some of the successes, and also the challenges and issues, we had encountered when working with stories and the knowledge of experience in this way. We’re hopeful that some of the people in the workshop were able to take away ideas and techniques from this workshop to apply in their own contexts!

As part of the knowledge exchange, people discussed how they had used lived experience and storytelling in their own work and fields, what opportunities there were for them to adopt such an approach and what are the potential barriers to this way of working. Some points raised by people in the workshop were:

  • Whilst people are likely to listen to lived experience stories and make some changes, it is more difficult to get people to really ‘handover’ power.
  • Stories help people to connect properly at a human level – they get underneath ‘professionalism’ and connect people emotionally
  • Stories are useful for reflective practice – we can also learn a lot from positive experiences, not just negative ones

People’s Voice Media and the CoSIE project are also interested in how we can better share our learning about storytelling and co-creation with a wider audience. As part of this workshop, we asked our fellow practitioners to think about how we can do this… and create a toolkit of sorts! Some ideas were:

  • Including in the ‘toolkit’ elements of what doesn’t work and why
  • Covering topics such as ‘growing a network’ so you have people alongside you who have “got your back”
  • Exploring how you can create inclusive and accessible environments in which people feel comfortable to share their stories
  • Making the format more interactive than a document – helping people to connect with the material in a more direct way

We will be working on this with our colleagues in the CoSIE project throughout this year and hopefully by the end of 2020 we will be able to share with you what we have made!


Stories are vehicles that build bridges between people and support common understanding. Digital storytelling in particular, helps to connect communities and has thrived as a tool for social transformation and justice.

#COVIDConversations is a pan-European storytelling project that we launched with members of the Community Reporting network with the vision to create a shared public space for ‘COVID conversations’. The project focuses on hearing the ‘unheard’ voices during the pandemic and providing a platform through which people with the least resource and power in society can share their experiences. You can hear some of the initial stories here:

This project will enable people to not only share their lived experience with one another and but also with institutional powers, to build a better society post-pandemic that is focused on cooperation and solidarity. We will be working with our partners later in the year (and probably next year too) to host knowledge exchanges based on the learnings from the stories to inform and influence what happens next.

COVID-19 has exposed and enhanced society’s inequalities. It is important that we do not go back to normal and sweep these issues under the carpet. It is vital that people’s voices are heard during and post-pandemic, and that we truly understand the ways in which these uncertain and turbulent times have impacted on people’s lives. There is a real danger that the narrative of the crisis will be dominated by those with existing power and resource, and that recovery responses will be paternalistic and delivered in a ‘done to’ manner. #COVIDConversations seeks to ensure that other, more diverse voices are not only a part of the conversation, but are also actively involved in the recovery and are key players in how we re-build our communities for the better.

In this light, we have launched a ‘SHARE YOUR STORY’ function on the Community Reporter website. Here you can submit your experience of the pandemic as a text, photo, audio or video file and one of the team will review it to ensure it is in-line with our Responsible Storytelling practices before it is published to the site. Click the button below to submit your story.