A selection of two images representing the changing futures - one image is from a workshop that took place as part of the project and shows some group members carrying out reflection activity around a group of tables. The other image is a screenshot of a video that has been uploaded to the community reporter website as part of the project

Over the past few months, people from across Greater Manchester have been taking part in the Changing Futures Community Reporter Training Programme in partnership with Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The focus has been exploring people's experiences of multiple disadvantage.

PVM partnered with GMCA to deliver a series of eight workshops with local people, upskilling them in the core aspects of community reporting. The end goal of the project was for people to gather lived experiences stories of multiple disadvantage, specifically from people and communities who's voices don't often get a platform to be heard. GMCA want to use these stories to inform and improve the range of support services available to people facing multiple disadvantage across Greater Manchester.

What is multiple disadvantage? 

Multiple disadvantage is a term that could be used to refer to experiences people have faced as a result of intersecting inequalities, including gender based violence and abuse, substance use, mental ill health, homelessness, being involved in the criminal justice system and the removal of children (definition from the the AVA Project website - an organisation not involved with the Changing Futures Community Reporting Project, but do lots of work around multiple disadvantage).

In the context of the Changing Futures Community Reporting Project, we spent time in the first couple of sessions exploring people's personal definition of multiple disadvantage, recognising the importance of understanding the breadth of experiences people may have. 

The learning process...

Throughout the project, people were upskilled in Community Reporting, from story gathering techniques and responsible practice, to the use of digital tools and the Community Reporter Website.

Over the course of the first four sessions, participants developed a basic understanding of community reporting. They learned interview techniques, digital literacy skills and explored their understanding of ‘multiple disadvantage’ in the context of their own lived experiences. 

“Being around the team and learning – it’s good to open up“

A group member reflecting on what they’ve enjoyed in the sessions.

During a two week break the group got out into their communities and gathered stories, putting what they had learnt into practice – you take a look at the some of them towards the bottom of this article!

“There’s not just me going through what I am going through”

A group member reflecting on what they’ve learnt during the sessions.

For the last four sessions the group learnt about story curation. They spent time reviewing some of the stories they had gathered and picked out key themes and learning points that had emerged from them. Topics spoken about in the stories include people's journeys with recovery and finding support, homelessness and reaching out to organisations that helped and collective experiences of mental health.

The group then thought about how the findings could be shared more widely, brainstorming ideas for how the stories and learnings could be passed on to wider networks of people in the hopes of creating social change. 

The future of Community Reporting...

The sessions have equipped the group with Community Reporting techniques, meaning they have the knowledge to put everything into practice and conduct their own story gathering activities. It's exciting to know that this is already happening amongst some of the people who took part. We're excited to see where they take what they've learnt and how they continue to use Community Reporting in the future.

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