A community focused approach to telling your story: How to tell your story in the media 

Neighbours who began to have a  cup of tea and chat over the garden fence in Lockdown decided to cut a hole in the fence so that they could chat more easily. 

By academics this may be phrased as ‘creating a peer support network,’ but to community reporters, they were just having ‘a brew and a chat.’  

“This sums up the power of community reporting as an alternative to talking about community matters,” explains Hayley from People’s Voice Media. 

Yes, metaphorically and physically this was a beautiful way of breaking down barriers to the isolation we can feel today and especially during the Pandemic. But it’s important these humble human stories are shared and for me, that’s why I love community reporting. 

What is Community Reporting? 

Central to Community Reporting is the belief that people telling authentic stories about their own lived experiences offers a valuable understanding of their lives. Community Reporting provides opportunities in which people can use storytelling to: 

* Find their voice 

* Challenge perceptions 

* Be catalysts of change  

People’s Voice Media use digital tools such as cameras, smartphones, or tablets to help people tell their stories in their own way i.e. Community Reporting.  PVM is able to connect community reporters with groups, people, and businesses that are in a position to make social change. 

They follow a model of mobilising stories (responding), gathering stories (probing), and curating stories (sense-making). 

Similar to the foundations of community or citizen journalism which is bottom-up rather than top-down story-telling about certain communities and the issues important to them. 

Our Accessibility Reporter Dan, who trained with Hayley and Creative Minds, interviewed Hayley Trowbridge from People’s Voice Media on Zoom about Community Reporting… 

The below questions are what we asked her and her answers were:

Who are People’s Voice Media?

She said that People’s Voice Media are a charity since about the 90’s they were originally based in Manchester and were called MCIN. They rebranded as PVM as they’ve worked in Europe not just Greater Manchester. They a re a social change Charity that have a team of 5-7 people and occasionally pop up in North West. 

What is Community Reporting?

She said community reporting is a digital storytelling method they use that helps people tell stories about their lived experiences and to use stories to develop better ways of doing things. She got involved as a Trainer for a Community Reporter group in Liverpool. 

What type of people have been doing reporting?

She said there have been all sorts that people have been reporting on from across Europe groups., People with learning disabilities or difficulties, people who are not economically well off, people who experience mental ill health, young people have all been involved.  

What sort of things have they been reporting on?

There are lots of topics that people have told their stories on such as work, life where they live, experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, well-being, social care experiences, and much more.

How do people become Community Reporters?

People become Community Reporters by joining a programme, by requesting to work with People’s Voice Media or by looking at the website which is peoplesvoicemedia.co.uk or by emailing them and then they go from there.

Why do people become reporters?

People may have different reasons for becoming Reporters. For example, they may want to connect with other people, they may be a group who want to learn about reporting in the community. 

Has it been harder for people to report on things during COVID?

She said it has and it hasn’t been harder for people to report on things during COVID. For some people, having sessions online have helped them to get involved but for other people who don’t have digital skills or access to technology, it has been hard for them to be involved. 

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