Storytelling for Wellbeing: Moving From Vision to Best Practice

Environmental action, women’s wellbeing, and healthcare sector initiatives often fail to get their messaging across to potential stakeholders. 

Research and storytelling methodologies developed by the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling (GEECS) at the University of South Wales (USW) have helped bridge communication gaps, promote understanding, and enhance environmental, community, and individual health and wellbeing.

Stories of Change used digital storytelling to explore social and environmental impacts of energy sector transitions in former coal-mining communities in South Wales, enhancing public debate and policy conversations about energy. 

GEEC’s research also underpinned the £9.2million EU-backed Reducing Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) initiative to reduce carbon emissions from Welsh industry. As a result of our research, digital storytelling communication methods are now becoming embedded into Welsh decarbonization strategies and initiatives. 

Work in partnership with Swansea Bay University (SBU) Health Board led to Storytelling for Health which brought together arts practitioners and care providers from four continents, raising awareness of storytelling in health and wellbeing and changing professional healthcare practice. As a result of GEEC’s research, the first Clinical Nurse Specialist in Storytelling was appointed at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Swansea Bay University (SBU) Health Boards. In addition, USW in conjunction with SBU Health Board Arts Officer, developed an accredited training module in Storytelling for Health which is now offered to staff of all health boards in Wales and England. Our work has also informed the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament Cross Party Group - Arts and Health, resulting in storytelling being embedded in a robust Arts in Health sector with numerous ongoing service projects throughout Wales.

Collaborative research in partnership with national charity Welsh Women’s Aid has raised public awareness of issues around gender-based violence, changed policy, legal frameworks and service provision in Wales, and influenced training and practice e.g. within service providers, local authorities and the police. The 40 Voices, 40 Years exhibit used story-telling to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the movement to eliminate gender-based violence in Wales and was showcased at the National Museum of Welsh History and the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament among other prominent public exhibition sites.