The Civic Story Factory will unlock the powerful stories of change that exist in our public and nonprofit organisations, and use them to create further positive social change. It will do this by telling the stories of great work individuals and organisations do, and training professionals and beneficiaries to tell their own stories.
We have a major democratic and civic deficit in the UK, and, indeed in the world. That is that few people truly understand what their tax monies are spent on, how their democratic structures are organised, and who does what in their interests. They know what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast, they know the family backgrounds of the X-Factor finalists, and they know who makes the best meringue on the Bake Off, but they remain relatively ignorant of what goes into making civic society function. The Civic Story Factory will change this by ensuring that public and voluntary sector workers are enabled to tell the stories about the work they do, the difference they make, and the people’s lives they change.
At the heart of the Civic Story Factory is the belief that people who do good work but shy away from telling the world about it do themselves, their clients, their service and society a disservice because they leave the way open for the world’s view of what they do to be shaped by others with negative agendas, including TV companies which produce programmes such as “Benefits Street”, “Skint” and “How To Get A Council House”, and newspapers which whip up public feeling about immigration. Telling stories to the world about good work, how it is done, and what its benefits and impacts are, can have a powerful effect in changing attitudes and generating support for funding of the service. And stories are much more powerful than statistics, case studies, and reports, because:
- They engage audiences on an emotional level, creating memories of events that last; and
- They create a roadmap for changing opinions, guiding people from their current mindsets to different ways of thinking.
And the most powerful stories are those which come from “the horse’s mouth”, so, wherever possible, the Civic Story Factory will encourage and facilitate the people doing the work to tell the story themselves, and, ultimately, to get the people who benefit from services to describe their impacts.
So, The Factory will comprise two main strands of activity, namely;
Digital Storytelling – telling stories of great civic service in video and through social media.
Video and Social Media Training – with the specific objective of allowing people who work in, and who benefit from, public and 3rd sector services to tell their own stories of:
- The benefits of the work they do;
- Why they do what they do;
- How they do what the do; and
- The difference they make.
Some of the issues the Civic Story Factory can help partners to explore include:
- Social housing is necessary for social cohesion and a balanced society it reduces the benefits bill as well as saving other services from additional costs;
- Some people need benefits because they can’t work either permanently or temporarily, the majority of them have paid their fare share into the system before taking out what they are entitled to, and benefits can be a springboard to new opportunities;
- Collective community actions can improve people’s lives, and the people leading them can be inspirational;
- Some people can and should be able to improve their own health and wellbeing if given support and access to resources;
- WIthout immigration our economy would collapse;
- Ethnic and social diversity is a social good and enhances all of our lives
- Older age is not “God’s Waiting Room”.
Ultimately, the Civic Story Factory is about describing processes of positive change in terms that the public can understand, setting out how change is achieved and demonstrating its impact. But it is not about commissioning reports, it is about taking the tools used by those who have created powerful negative perceptions of public services and turning them to positive use.