TRAINING with POSTMARK for retired youth workers
Using Stories to Hear More Stories
Having attended POSTMARK, Sally Carr, a trustee of the National Youth Agency (UK), saw the value of the storytelling workshops so much that she asked me if I would consider repackaging the programme to assist the members of a project she was part of. Named ‘By Any Means Possible’ (BAMP!), the project was made up of retired youth workers who were sharing stories from their years of youth work practice as a resource for those coming into the youth service. Having a youth work background myself, I was more than happy to adapt POSTMARK to meet the needs of this group and looked forward to returning to this world, where I would probably relive my own memories too.
What I loved about working with the group was the empowerment that was clearly here. Women who had grown in knowledge and skill by the opportunity and training offered to them throughout their years in the youth service. Their wisdom and empathy, as well as their tenacity and commitment was clear; having to negotiate bureaucracy and sometimes ‘bend the rules’ to ensure that no young person would be lost.
Stories included the acquisition of transport for a youth outing when their request had been forgotten, the over-riding passion of various colleagues and the effects (for better and for worse!), and how a trip out was spoilt by some young people attempting to steal a puppy!
My job was to help the participants see how their stories could be told simply and then easily reworked to create a different emphasis as needed. And all were surprised at just how much stories aid the memory, with participants managing to reel off the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac having heard me tell them the story. Of course, our memories are woven together by story anyway, so often it’s just that we need a little confidence and a kindly audience and then we’re away!
The project was based in the UK, but I was based in Asia. Of course, by this time such situations had become normal. All the participants logged in from their homes in the West Midlands and the North West of England, and I used slides, games and exercises to help them both grow in their own storytelling and provide a space for others to tell their tales. After all, when you tell a story you give permission to others to share from their journey.
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