Stories Of The Blues
I was reading a review of last week’s ADDASS conference and the reviewer remarked that the most potent aspect of the conference, the parts that had the most impact were the real stories from real service users and their families. This shouldn’t surprise me – I am always hearing about the power of storytelling; the real life narrative from the expert by experience.
I’m in two minds about this. Sure, plonk me in a room where the two speakers are a senior bod from the Department of Health, powerpointing to the point of powerlessness on the latest rise in DoL’s figures and Mr E from the Bournwood case talking about H’s time in the hospital, and I know which speaker is going to speak to me. I know, when I tell the Get Steven Home story at conferences, that I will look around the audience during the narrative and see people crying, laughing, raging – i.e. the story has impacted. They have experienced an emotional reaction, probably because the story is about and told by, two human beings. We are not a case study.
What does my other mind have to say though? Our story has been in the public domain for nearly five years now, so I wonder if it has any relevance to today. Does a story told at an event really impact on the day to day practices of the people in the field? I am aware that there I am, a human being telling a human story about a vulnerable human being who had his human rights breached after being caught up in an inhuman system. People may be shocked hearing the story today but will it still be around when they are doing a best interests assessment next Thursday? I hope so.
Earlier this year a weird thing happened. I was asked to tell the story at a very large conference. I had quite a long slot and I asked the organiser if I could use the last five minutes to talk about LBBill. He agreed. However, when it came to the end of the story, someone put their hand up and asked – “Please tell the story about the logs”. I chuckled thinking “I’m taking requests now”. Later, it reminded me that I don’t own our story and that’s okay. But for a split second I felt like Donny Osmond trying to plug his new techno country and western album and all the audience wants to hear is Puppy Love.
I guess this is a call out for opinions/experiences. Are stories that powerful? It’s one thing to be moved upon hearing the story but does it have any lasting impact? Should it? It’s one event in one person’s life that is being narrated. And after a while, does the real human story enter a space where it is heard as a story but Is held in a peculiar fiction, mythical memory.By the way, I hope this doesn’t sound ungrateful and I’m also not looking for affirmation. But I am genuinely interested in whether stories are as powerful as the commentators often proclaim.
From → Social Care