Storying Sheffield

Rethinking Public Services: Citizen-Led Stories of Change

Neil - Torch - Kay-sm
Stories of Change is a collaborative project between Sheffield First Partnership’s Better Connected Programme, the University of Sheffield, local artists, and the people of Sheffield. It is investigating how public services can be better connected to the real needs of people who use them. By bringing together people from different communities and age groups, this project helps to frame a picture of the connections between people and public services.
The outputs from this project generate considerable insight into citizens’ diverse experiences of using public services, and also into what is most important to them in these interactions and relationships. They help us to deepen our understanding of the complex and unique nature of each such engagement. No unique story is, nor can be, ‘representative’; however, through paying close attention to individuals’ stories, we can access important insights which have far wider applicability. In addition to disseminating these insights, this project is intended to outline a possible method of accessing the ‘citizen voice’ which is qualitatively different from standard consultative processes.
Individuals are always at the centre of public services, and the impacts, problems, and effectiveness of services can always be measured at a human, personal, level. Yet, the deeply human heart of public services can easily be obscured by the complexities of planning, delivery and co-ordination; indeed, even evaluation and measurement of efficacy (or its lack) can sometimes appear to leave the person out. This project attempts in a small way to redress such imbalances, and to open up new possibilities for hearing the citizen’s voice.
The aim of this project has been to work closely with a range of users of public services in Sheffield in order to co-produce short narratives which tell the stories of their experiences using a variety of media, including text, film, audio, illustration, and photography, and drawing on a range of research methodologies including narrative inquiry, participatory action research, and visual research practice.
The team on the Stories of Change project have worked with a wide range of groups and individuals, including families, carers, people with disabilities, young people, and older people.






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