“Just go with it, open your mind and put aside all the traditional thoughts about life story work. You won’t look at life story work in the same way ever again if you become involved.” Joanne Stoddart, Head of Service, Darlington Borough Council.
The Creative Life Story Work programme uses creative activities facilitated by professional artists, combined with therapeutic life story work, to help children and young people better understand their own life stories, and improve their lives at home and school.
Following on from an initial pilot project, three local authorities in the North East of England – Darlington, Gateshead and South Tyneside – have worked with Gateshead-based charity Blue Cabin to demonstrate the impact that Creative Life Story Work can have on care-experienced children and young people and the adults in their lives.
Jenny Young, Director at Blue Cabin, which combines artist-led activities with social pedagogy to improve the lives of care-experienced children, explained: “All local authorities carry out life story work however there is currently no national guidance on best practice.
“Thanks to funding from What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC), we’ve been able to trial this new model of life story work which helps care-experienced children and young people build stronger relationships with the adults in their lives, and better understand their own stories. We now want to share what’s been learnt with other local authorities throughout the UK.”
One young person who took part in the programme said: “The creative life story work was a really fun opportunity which helped me to understand more about my feelings and emotions.”
Another said: “The sharing stone helps me to talk about my feelings, so when I am playing with it, [my carer] knows that I want to talk about something.”
The programme has been designed in partnership with Professor Richard Rose of Therapeutic Life Story Work International, (TLSWi), who commented: “With the commitment to not only hear, but to validate our children and young people’s voices, the partners in this wonderful project have designed and supported Creative Life Story Work that delivers unique narratives collated in books, art, play, theatre, photography and puppetry…”
The Creative Life Story learning event takes place online on Tuesday 15 March. Speakers will include staff from the North East local authorities which have piloted this approach, and interim findings from the programme evaluation will be shared, as well as insights into how the approach could be rolled out across other local authority areas and the benefits it could have.
Find out more and book tickets at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creative-life-story-work-learning-event-tickets-258050966387.