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.


Ever thought about what is driving change in the world? Ever thought about what that might mean for how our communities, societies and world might look?

These are the kind of questions we are exploring as part of the EUARENAS project that is looking at how people are involved – or not – in democracy, decision-making and change processes. As part of this work, People’s Voice Media is leading a set of future-thinking activities. We’ve started by looking at what we can learn from conversations happening in the media now about what the future of our communities, cities and societies might look like.

To help us in this, we’ve recently run an online workshop for people from across Europe in which we’ve been exploring questions such as What does the future look like for societies, communities and people across Europe? How can citizens and their voices be more active, included and represented within governance and decision-making arenas? Where are our cities and democracies heading?

In this workshop, we looked at snapshots of media content – videos to written articles – and identified some key messages in them. These included, views that were critical of the European Union’s democratic faculties, how climate change is a key challenge and we must start to act now, the acknowledgment that human rights issues and discrimination against minority communities must be addressed equally across Europe and a general pessimism about society’s current state (i.e., many inequalities). 

Based on this, we thought about what were the key drivers of change in our societies, and came up with some suggestions:

  • COVID-19 has accelerated change in certain arenas – i.e., working from home, less travel, more use of digital technologies to connect people 
  • Potential legislation in countries like the UK around protests and journalism could lead to negative changes in how people engage in democracy and civic discussion 
  • A resurgence of neighbourliness and local connections as a result of COVID-19 may change how we participate in our communities and create change where we are 
  • Technology – such as social media – is contributing to a ‘cancel culture’ that could be detrimental to providing space for conversations and different perspectives to be explored 

These findings – and others from the EUARENAS project – will be brought together into an insight briefing later in the year. When we have it all ready to go, we will share it with you on this blog. 


At the end of June, the Co-Engage project held the second in its series of training labs to test the co-creation practices it has researched from across Europe.

The lab, organised by School Raising was hosted in Bologna, Italy and focused on applying our learnings so far to co-create a crowdfunding campaign designed to engage citizens in assisting a local school with a project to improve its facilities and educational offering. Unfortunately, due to ongoing COVID travel restrictions, PVM had to attend online, but it was good to see that many of the partners were able to attend in-person – hopefully we’ll be able to join them soon.

The work in the labs included deciding on a project to crowdfund for, brainstorming pledges and settling on the amount we would charge for each one (think The Price is Right!). We also discussed how we could publicise the campaign, settled on a name and shared contacts we could use to help us gain support, before presenting our ideas to each other and finalising the campaign.

Although managing a hybrid training lab with a mix of online and offline participants was certainly a challenge, the School Raising team and the rest of the partners who were attending in person did everything they could to ensure online attendees were able to engage with discussions. We even got a quick tour of the venue at one point!

The next lab is in Toulouse later this month – one we will also be attending online – but, hopefully, come August we’ll be able to meet our Co-Engage partners in-person for the first time in 17 months.


Unfortunately, due to ongoing travel restrictions our second transnational partnership meeting (TNP) for Narratives of Impact couldn’t happen in Milan as previously hoped, so instead we met online for one-and-a-half days of project updates, planning and, if course a good chat about food, wine and travel.

Hosted by COSV, PVM attended along with fellow partners INTRAS, CRN, and SNDE. It was great to catch up with everyone and the meeting felt productive. We’re all excited about this project, which will be releasing its first intellectual output very soon.

One of the highlights was a presentation by one of the project’s stakeholders, Julia Schieber of Friedrich Alexander University of Nuremberg, who talked to us about the Odisseu Project. The project aims to give young people a better understanding of the lives of refugees and has used lived experience storytelling to produce an interactive game where the player can follow one of three characters’ stories as they experience becoming a refugee. On the second day of the meeting we had a chance to play the game and it gave us all some interesting ideas around storytelling, its uses and its impacts.

We’re hoping that for our next TNP in November we can all be together in the same space but, in the meantime, keep an eye on our blog for the release of our first piece of work on this project.


COVID-19 has greatly impacted on the wellbeing of communities in South and West Yorkshire. This project looks at health inequalities with a particular focus on the disproportionate impact that coronavirus is having on our BAME communities. (This work may include other priorities and look at how children and young people, the homeless, those in contact with the criminal justice system, the LGBT community, and those suffering domestic abuse have been affected, depending on local information.)

To explore this further and see how creativity can support people in these communities, People’s Voice Media and Creative Minds have partnered on a collaborative project, with funding from the Association of Mental Health Providers, using digital storytelling to listen to the voices of people in Barnsley, South Kirklees and Wakefield. We trained people from the area as Community Reporters in order to gather stories from others about their wellbeing throughout the pandemic, and how creativity has helped them. These stories of lived experience were then examined by the Community Reporters in a series of sense-making sessions in order to pull out common themes, which have been used to make recommendations for developing creative mental health interventions with local communities. The insight report produced focuses on the insights from the stories and what can be done with the learnings from them.