What I learnt from community reporting at Mental Health Museum and highlights from conference

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In 2018 or 2019 I went along to the Mental Health Museum in Fieldhead Hospital Wakefield to learn about community reporting and what it means.

Community reporting is where you go out into the community  and report on stories from people, and this could be about anything: nature, gardening, what helps them to keep happy and healthy, and then you edit the story to take the bits that you want to hear.

It was a two day course and I could only do the first day, but here’s a summary of what I learnt.

There were three parts to the project:

  • Gathering stories which involved using audio and video storytelling techniques to tell our own stories and help others tell their stories
  • Share stories which involved uploading the stories to the Community Reporter website and share them with the online community of Peoples Voice Media
  • Learning from the stories which involved reviewing them and identifying the key points from them, and share these with other people in other events

The next thing we did was find out what community reporting was which is a storytelling movement that supports people to tell stories using digital tools such a smartphones or tablets, and to connect these with others.  Find a voice, challenge perceptions of people and create positive change for people.

Then, we gathered stories which were interesting as we got to hear from other people in the room about something that was important to them.

We then watched a story and were asked to note down the key message from the story, and key learning from the person’s life.


These type of stories gather people’s opinions and ideas in a fast way, and they only have 1 question.  These are good conversation starters or a storytelling activity.  To record them you should:

Choose a topic you want the story to be on

Ask an open question based on the topic

Record the person’s answer, which can be audio or video in this project

Next, we were shown an example of a snapshot story.

Then, we were shown some tips on how to record stories and these are:

Find a quiet space to record in so you don’t have distractions

Place the microphone close to the person who’s speaking, so you can hear them and they can hear you

Check sound levels so that you can hear the person speaking

Choose a suitable shot size e.g. big, small

 Think about where the person is looking

Pick a background that looks visually good for your recording

Next we reviewed our peer’s stories and had to note down:

What topics and subject matters did they talk about?

What did we learn about audio or video recording, what worked well and what could be improved

We learnt about responsible storytelling

The best practise guide is:

Ethics and values, content, permissions and consent from the people you record

Online and offline safety

That was the end of day one

Day two

The 2nd day was started with a recap from day one

People shared their stories from Day 1

The next activity was dialogue interviews which are peer to peer interviews that don’t have pre decided questions, and are mimicked on day to day conversations.

An opening question (i.e. a conversation starter) is asked which enables the storyteller to start to tell their story.

The Community Reporter recording the story may then ask any questions within this storytelling process that naturally occur to them.

Next we had a dialogue interview example

We then reviewed each other’s stories

I enjoyed this project as I learnt how to record stories and how to review other people’s stories

The highlights of the ICR conference (Institute of Community Reporters) for me were:

Seeing loads of people from different backgrounds telling their stories and what they feel passionate about

People telling us all about which workshop they were involved in which included stories about good lived experiences

In summary,  I would say it was a really good event as you could sign up to as many events as you wanted to and any that you couldn’t you could catch-up on in your own time.

Here is a link to both of the live stream sessions:

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Notes from the Community Reporter event on stories
Accessibility and inclusion tips and information


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