Story-Telling Workshops 2015 – A Review plus International News

Bernard Davies has sent us the following review of our Story-Telling workshops initiative. It’s important to underline that our offer of a Story-Telling workshop is still very much on the table.

And to add on 19/01  news filtering through that we have been invited via Jon Ord to run a story-telling workshop at a forthcoming conference in Helsinki, Finland and that we are in exploratory conversation with academics in northern Argentina about story-telling and community work. In addition it looks as if our book, ‘This is Youth Work’ is to be translated into Japanese.

Ta to

Youth work story-telling workshops: a brief review of 2015

The response

IDYW ran a total of 12 story-telling workshops in 2015 for around 230 participants. Six were hosted by higher education institutions for students and local workers and managers, including one at Ulster University. One was offered to their field workers by two local authorities working together; one was arranged specially for twelve visiting Japanese workers’, managers and academics; two, held in Athlone in the Irish Republic for volunteers and paid workers from different parts of the country, came out of a ‘taster’ day in Dublin for youth officers and development officers.

The process

As in the past, at the heart of the workshops were small group sessions of six – twelve participants. Prompted by one of IDYW’s seven experienced facilitators, each small group focused on the narration and analysis (‘unpicking’) of an example of practice offered by a group member and chosen by the group for its potential to illuminate the ‘cornerstones’ of youth work (see p1). A final exercise focused on how participants were trying to defend this practice in their workplace and beyond – something which has become both more challenging and more necessary as the workshops have increasingly attracted participants not working in open access settings.

The story-telling web resource

At the start of 2015 IDYW published a web-based resource ‘Story-telling in Youth Work’ (, drawing on its collective experience of developing the story-telling approach. This includes case studies of stories being ‘unpicked’ in a small group and the materials IDYW has produced over the last five years to support the workshops. By mid-Oct the site had had over 1000 visitors from over 50 countries.

Feedback …

the session … demonstrated the value of time spent with peers to critically reflect on our practice – not only did we benefit from hearing a variety of perspectives as we contemplated one particular scenario but it allowed space for fresh insights, encouragement and affirmation.

(It was) good to get ‘back to basics’.

I think what was really memorable was when other participants in the group began to ask questions of the person sharing their story and ‘unpick’ it… and also to empathise with the story being told.

and a work in progress: into 2016 – and beyond

In addition to seeking out and responding to invitations to run workshops, IDYW has three other priorities for 2016:

  • To pilot facilitator training in the use of story-telling.
  • To test out further if and how it can be used to provide evidence of the value of youth work to the young people who engage with it.
  • To submit a bid for funds for a research project with the provisional title ‘Articulating youth work’s purpose, process and impact through story-telling’.

If you are interested in hosting a workshop or being involved in any of these activities, contact Bernard Davies at

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