Members of the Curating the Mind project with some of their art work.

National Storytelling Week runs from 1 February to 8 February and celebrates the art from of storytelling, from theatre and dance to books and oral history. People can be connected through stories, as communities come together through the telling of stories.

Social connections play a vital role in health and wellbeing. To celebrate the importance of storytelling and social connections, we take a look at how some of the projects we fund are using storytelling in their work.

Curating the Minds, is a project run by Kanlungan Filipino Consortium supporting the Filipino community in Waltham Forest and Newham, East London. Members take part in a range of workshops using photographs, videos, objects, storytelling and music to explore experiences and issues that can affect mental health. Many of the members are supporting their families financially in the Philippines, and often feel tired and overwhelmed, as well as being isolated from their families. Curating the Mind is the opportunity for people to come together and receive support from others who have similar experiences, by working through their emotions and feelings through art and storytelling. The work produced by the project will then be shown in an exhibition at Stratford Library on 29 March from 1pm until 5pm, and all are welcome to attend.

Diana Horton, an Art Therapist, said, “These ladies and gentlemen are contributing to the Filipino economy and they’re also looking after family members back home. But if they’re not able to look after themselves, they can feel burdened by the weight of their responsibilities. It is very difficult to be away from home and not have those resources at hand to comfort you. It really gives them an opportunity to come together.”

One member said, “The loneliness that I feel is lessened. I realise that I am not alone feeling these emotions. Curating the Mind has been a great help in the lives of Filipino migrants.”

Another project where storytelling is at its heart is The Cynon Cooperatives project, run by Cynon Valley Museum Trust in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. This new project is working with young people with complex additional needs and their families, to create a multi-media community exhibition. Quilting, sewing, storytelling, editing and working with clay and wood are all activities that young people can engage with and come together, share their experiences and gain new skills. The Cynon Valley comprises a small number of isolated communities and the project provides opportunities for people to build connections across the community.

The project holds ‘Take-over’ events where the members participate fully in the developing of the museum to co-produce the project and ensure it reflects the local people’s areas of interest. Currently, the project is focussed on creating sensory items inspired by storytelling.

The project captures life experiences and history of local people through several different media forms including audio, visual and digital content which will be curated and exhibited in the Museum for local people to attend, with some parts of the exhibition even touring around the local area, to widen access.

David Jones, Fundraising Officer at Cynon Valley Museum noted, “When we walk in other people's shoes, we empathise. Storytelling will support our project, so that the individual can remain at the centre of its design and feel empowered, engaged and relevant.”

He continued. “We use storytelling as an opportunity to learn and listen from another person’s life experience. We catch a glimpse of a view of the world that can shape, strengthen or challenge. This really helps brings communities together, and creates a shared understanding and ensures that the exhibition reflects the people who designed it.”

For more information on the Curating the Mind exhibition, click here

Are you planning to do something around National Storytelling Week? If so, we would love to hear from you. To send us your pictures and stories, click here.

Find out more about National Storytelling week

To read more news from the Trust, click here.

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