In the closing stages of creating this resource we discovered a  global community of researchers and practitioners, for whom story-telling is highly important, indeed treasured. In this respect we are  indebted to Cathy Sharp, Director of Research for Real for opening our eyes. Her article, ‘Calling time on anecdotal evidence’ struck a chord from the beginning.

My appeal here is simply that we need better ways to talk about and value the rich, insightful and yes, useful, evidence that can be gleaned from paying attention to the stories people tell us. If we are to value experience we need to seek out those stories more deliberately. Language matters. And stories tell us what matters to people.”

Hence we are committed to tracking down and sharing links, which explore the significance of story-telling in the realms of analysis, policy and practice. We hope you will find these connections challenging and informative In addition we would welcome being informed of any other links to story-telling, anecdote and narrative that you find insightful and useful. Contact Bernard Davies ( or Colin Brent ( with your suggestions.

Dr Cathy Sharp, ‘Calling time on anecdotal evidence’ – a blog, which appeared on the Alliance for Useful Evidence web site.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh, ‘Stories or numbers OR stories and numbers’ – a blog again from the Alliance for Useful Evidence web site.


Produced by the Space Unlimited Group this pack of ten stories, illuminated by an outline of the process through which the material was collected, is striking in its similarity to our IDYW philosophy and approach.

Space Unlimited has pioneered youth-led enquiry as a catalyst to generate fresh insights and trigger new action. Young people see things differently, explore problems imaginatively and aren’t afraid to say what they think. Over the years, we have supported groups of young people to collaborate directly with statutory and voluntary organisations and to share responsibility for improving the places in which they live and work. Stories have become an integral part of our work.

Participants in our projects often use stories to illustrate the way that better relationships and different roles make a real difference in our capacity to transform our places. Stories are also a key part of our approach to evaluation, helping us to check whether and how we are meeting our outcomes.


We’ve only just begun to explore the diversity of material to be found on this Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services web site.

Welcome to Storybank from IRISS. We’ve developed this resource to support people involved in all aspects of health and social care to understand the potential benefits of storytelling, and to understand, gather and use stories where appropriate. Throughout, we are using the term ‘stories’ to refer to true, autobiographical descriptions of experiences and perceptions.

Storybank includes a range of resources, including:

  • An IRISS Insight which assesses the evidence around storytelling in health and social care
  • Links to a number of guides to storytelling to assist people who wish to gather or use stories
  • Links to existing single and collected stories, which have been categorised to help people to explore those most relevant to their field

Storybank is intended as a living resource, so please get in touch if you would like us to add any guides or stories. For more information, contact: Michelle Drumm.

Michelle Drumm, ‘The role of personal story-telling in practice’, an IRISS Insight paper.

“Ever since human beings sat around the fire in caves, they have told stories to help them grapple with life and the struggle to survive (McKee and Fryer, 2002). Stories give us a deeper insight into lived experience – past, present and imagined futures (McAdams, 2007). It can be argued that the art of telling, and listening to, stories is at the heart of what it means to be human, how human beings articulate their experience of the world and make sense of it.”

B.fest story-telling workshop

A report on a story-telling workshop run by IDYW facilitators as part of Brighton’s B.fest, a festival of youth arts.

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