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.

A Big Thank You!

And that’s it… another annual Institute of Community Reporters (ICR) conference has come and gone, and what a blast we had. A BIG thank you to everyone who made it possible – those working behind the scenes running the tech, people who led workshops, folk who braved the livestream and to everyone who got involved in the workshops and online discussions. Without YOU it simply would not have happened.

As part of the day, there were some livestreams. The morning livestream got things off to a great start with from Maff from Camerados, who brought us the sunshine from his lovely garden as well as meaningful insights from his own stories of lived experience. As well as Maff other guest speakers discussed the impact and power that lived experience storytelling has had on them. The morning discussion set the tone for the rest of the day. If you missed it, you can watch it here: 

The team at People’s Voice Media then led a workshop called people were able to have conversations about what good lived experience storytelling practice looks like. People came up with some practical and insightful ideas that we aim to put together as a manifesto, (of sorts), that we can bring into practice here at People’s Voice Media and influence others to adopt as well. So, watch this space as this is developed further!

There were also 6 satellite workshops running through the day that other people involved in storytelling delivered. They were all online except one which was facilitated in a wonderful outside space. These workshops explored different areas of lived experience storytelling. From, ‘Stories of the Storytellers’ that looked at the theme of ownership of storytelling, to, ‘An Invitation to a Brave Space’ which focused on how to make spaces safe for authentic storytelling to take place, these were just some of the themes.

People’s Voice Media were also back on the workshop front with a second event that was about exploring what a Day of Action might look like around lived experience… and was it a good idea in the first place. Various ideas about what this might look like were discussed. Some people explored doing ‘story jams’ which hopefully could be happen around a real campfire, or if not a virtual one. Short films with stories were mentioned and stories in different languages.

Other ideas that emerged around a Day of Action were:

  • A campaign about the value of stories as a legitimate form of data and a valuable tool for learning and development
  • A day in which we speak truth to power! Love this!
  • Positive stories of change – when people power works well 
  • A campaign that flips the idea of ‘hard to reach’ on its head and tries to engage professionals who are ‘hard to reach’ or not currently involved in discussions around lived experience and co-production 

All of these are seeds of ideas that could be developed, and we will be getting in touch with workshop attendees to see if people want to take this forward, or any of this discussion forward in anyway. 

The afternoon livestream brought all the workshop leaders – the People’s Voice Media crew and the satellite workshop leaders – together, to reflect on their sessions. You can watch it here:

I think it’s fair to say that the conference generated healthy discussions, ideas and reflections that will steer us in the right direction for future practice. Bringing people together and listening to insightful reflections of practice and who wholly support the way forward was inspiring and re-energising. There was a sense of hope that the Future of Lived Experience is in safe hands. Thanks a million for joining us, and keep in touch!

Kath Peters, PVM.


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.