Showing the lives behind the numbers
We helped people with experience of severe and multiple disadvantage to tell their stories in an empowering and personal way, to honour their life journeys and share their aspirations.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, we ran a series of collaborative events bringing together service providers, commissioners, policy influencers, and various experts including people with lived experience, to listen and learn from these powerful stories, connect with other change makers, and reflect on how to best put these learnings into practice.
We believe these stories need to be heard, and inspire radical change.
250,000 people in England have contact with at least two out of three of the homelessness, substance misuse and criminal justice systems. At least 58,000 people have contact with all three.
Hard Edges, published in January 2015 by the Lankelly Chase Foundation, delivers the most rigorous data to date about people whose lives combine disadvantages such as homelessness, substance misuse and offending. It brings further evidence that we need to move away from systems of support that focus on single issues. But what do we know about what matters to those individuals? What do we know about the life they aspire to? Data is a first step to understanding what people’s lives are like, and where systems go wrong. But we also believe that the case for change is best made through people telling their story in their own words. And that we need new ways to value people for who they are as whole persons, with problems, but also with strengths and ambitions.
We met with 12 people over the course of a year, all of which live in North East and North West of the UK. We spend couple of days with them to understand their journey and experiences, their current lives, their challenges and their dreams. All individuals had experience of substance misuse, homelessness and criminal justice systems.
They decided what they wanted to share about their life and how they wanted to share it, for example through music, film and photography. Each person received their story as a gift to keep for themselves or share with others.
We organised 2 collaborative workshops where we brought together service providers, commissioners, policy makers and people with lived experience. The first workshop focused on listening. The participants could engage with the stories and think about what they mean to them on a personal and professional level. The storytellers were there to present their story and share their experiences first hand. The second workshop focussed on exploring opportunities for change.
By creating a space to listen and learn from people's stories, we were able to inspire service providers and MPs to think differently about the way homeless services, the criminal justice system and addiction services are delivered and work together. The storytellers were invited to the UK Parliament to take part in a discussion with MPs and service providers about the future of support services for adults with complex needs in the UK.
The storytellers became close in the process and are still a great support to each other.
“It was good to have to opportunity to feed into a discussion and I hope things will change for the better. My gift is something I will keep to show my grandchildren as it is part of my life.” Stuart
"I felt listened to and more importantly taken seriously. The whole process has helped me reflect on my life and make positive changes. I come off all methadone during the process and am now ‘clean’.” Zeb