It’s not long now until the 1st Annual Institute of Community Reporter’s conference – From the Margins To The Mainstream: Putting people’s voice at the heart of decision-making processes – is happening, and now to accompany our main symposium, we’ve got some exciting fringe events running throughout June to tell you about!

Narratives, the stories that people choose to tell about their own experience, are of increasing importance in decision-making processes and are instrumental to creating new ideas, ways of doing things and ultimately bringing about social change. With terms such as ‘co-design’, ‘co-production’ and ‘co-creation’ becoming the popular discourse in a range of industries such as academic, public and third sector support services, and local and national Governments, it is imperative to explore what the practical implementation of these terms means and how they bring about – or not – the inclusion and utilisation of a wider diversity of people’s voices into decision-making realms. The conference’s fringe events are taking place in different locations in the North West and Yorkshire, and are picking up on key aspects of these subject matters, as well as providing practical training and workshops on them. So, what have we got coming up?

Our first fringe event take’s place in Huddersfield. Working with the University of Huddersfield and Creative Minds as part of the #softandfluffy project, People’s Voice Media will be using the Our Voices story curation methodology to begin to analyse the stories about creativity and wellbeing that the project has been gathering. This staff training day, on the 4th June, will equip people working in creative, wellbeing and community settings with the skills to make sense of the insights in stories of lived experience co-produce findings from them.

We will then be in Stockport later in the month working with a team of people from children’s services, again using the Our Voices method, to help us to use insights from stories of young people’s relationship with support services to help direct a local strategy.

And finally, our fringe event tour will end at Liverpool MakeFest on the 29th June, where team member Hayley will be giving an Ignite talk on changing the world, one story at a time as part of their ‘what life might be like in 2049’ theme. Exploring the learning from the Digital Curator Toolkit, produced as part of the Our Voices project, Hayley will be linking its application to real world contexts and sparking a discussion about storytelling and social change.

Watch this space to see how our conference programme rolls out!


It’s only a few weeks until the sell-out, Co-Creating (Public) Services with Stories of Lived Experience symposium. We’re now really excited to launch our full programme, you can see the full programme here.

At the event, academics, people who access services, co-creation facilitators, service providers, local municipalities and public services, and third sector organisations will come together to explore how people’s own experiential knowledge can be used to inform service design and implementation, policies and much more. The speakers are from across the UK and Europe and offer different perspectives and experiences of co-creation. Their sessions will examine how the power of people’s stories can be used as part of co-creation activities and their own learning about this. The event promises to be dialogue provoking, active and a great opportunity to meet people involved in co-creation and exchange ideas.

If you’ve not got a ticket, you can still join the waiting list.


Over the last 8 months, our team has been working with municipalities in Utrecht to explore how Community Reporting methodologies can be used to support their service design and implementation when addressing ‘wicked’ problems.

Late last year, the team from Houten were initially trained as Community Reporters themselves, equipping them with the skills to capture insight stories about issues concerning unemployment, specifically in terms of investigating the mismatch between employment opportunities/employers expectations and the skills/experiences of the people who were looking for work. This training enabled them to understand more about the methodology of our practice, explore how it could be implemented locally and to work with our team to design a plan for its usage as part of a co-creation pilot.

Earlier this year, the team went on to the next stage of their Community Reporting journey and up-skilled to become Community Reporter trainers themselves. They’ve used this learning to train others and have begun to collect some insight stories. With the stories flowing in, we revisited the team to introduce our story curation model and support them to use it to analyse the stories they were gathering. Initial findings from the stories include the identification of barriers to employment such as taxation issues and difficulties in navigating the support systems available, as well as potential solutions to such challenges, namely bespoke coaching.

With this initial learning, the team then worked with us to start planning how they could start to make practical interventions using our Conversation of Change process. As part of this, facilitation techniques for engaging different stokeholders in dialogue with one another were explored, as well as what types of change they are hoping to create. The team are currently in the process of finishing their story gathering and analysis, and working on ideas for their Conversation of Change events. We’ll give you an update later in the year on how they take the knowledge of lived experience and transform it into action as part of their public services!

These activities are part of an Horizon 2020 funded project – CoSIE – that seeks to investigate the co-creation of public services across Europe through practically applied research techniques.


Peoples Voice Media and its partners within the VOICITYS project have recently hosted two Conversation of Change events on the topic of life in diverse neighbourhoods. Bringing together the research findings from the project such as Community Reporter stories and interviews with decision-makers, the events prompted discussions and ideas generation about a range of key topics.

The first event was specifically for residents and stakeholders in Charlestown and Lower Kersal (CHALK) and it explored:

  • How physical and social change impact on each other
  • Ways to involve people in change processes to overcome the ‘fear of change’
  • How CHALK has a resilient community and good community assets
  • The importance of spaces for people to meet and interact, and how this helps communities to connect and grow

The second event, What Does Diversity Means to You?, brought together project participants from cities across Europe – Berlin (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), and Sassari (Italy) with the people from CHALK. It addressed a number of questions centred around diversity by comparing key understandings of what diversity means to people across the four cities. This discussion then looked at key policy ideas for enhancing the assets of diverse communities and how these communities can begin to create positive change for their neighbourhood. The results from this event will contribute to the local consensus meetings in which residents and other stakeholders will finalise their ideas for their area.

Watch this space to see how the project progresses!


We’ve been made-up with the response to our Co-creating (public) services with stories of lived experience symposium. The symposium is part of the first annual Institute of Community Reporters conference running in June 2019, and this specific event will bring together people from across Europe within and outside our network to explore and discuss the power of stories.

As part of this thought-provoking and participatory 1-Day Symposium, you will:

  • Listen to a case study on how the Making It Real framework has used insight storytelling, and get involved in a practical storytelling activity delivered by Community Reporters from TLAP and the National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG).
  • Take part in an interactive story curation session led by the Our Voices project and AQuA who have been piloting the methodology in their work.
  • Get involved in a workshop exploring how Conversation of Change events can be used to co-design policy recommendations run by the VOICITYS partnership

The symposium will conclude with a collaborative keynote led by the CoSIE consortium in which quick-fire, inspiring and provocative talks on co-creation in public services will be delivered by people who access public services, practitioners and academics. You will be invited to get involved in this discussion and share your thoughts on co-creation approaches.

If you’d like to be a part of the dialogue, book your ticket here before they go!