Nicola was working as a speech and language therapist in a day centre for people with severe and profound disabilities 20 years ago, when she noticed that staff continually told each other small stories about what had happened in the day – but they never did this with the people they were supporting – who of course were the main actors in the story!
She raised the issue at a staff meeting and everyone agreed to have a go at remembering and telling these anecdotes together in a group session. This was really successful – everyone got engaged and had fun. We had stories about losing glasses, the fire alarm going off in error, making food, and someone’s car accident. This last story proved very moving, as the people with disabilities responded with empathy and affection to the staff member concerned.
Storysharing was subsequently developed in schools and residential and day services in Somerset. From 2011-2017, projects were funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It has been used across the world in Canada, South Africa, Australia and the Netherlands. It is a core skill in the EQUALS curriculum in the UK.