Latest Posts

Sara Cowan

Building Our Narrative Power Fourteen change-makers Reflections from the first residential of our narrative leadership programme

Since launching Building Our Narrative Power last summer, we have had the incredible opportunity of working with 14 community organisers, campaigners and activists. The folks we’re working with come from a variety of different backgrounds and social justice struggles. We have been working together to shape the programme, bringing in their ideas, skills and experiences to co-design a year of learning and leadership development.

Group Photo!
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Sara Cowan

Global Narrative Change PIRC goes to a conference in Bogota: and learns a lot! Confluence 2023

On a Wednesday afternoon, just before logging off, I received an email: “Save the date for a global convening on narrative change that IRIS, Puentes and Global Narrative Hive are co-organising this October in Bogotá.” A work trip to Colombia? Yes please! The opportunity to learn about narrative change outside of the UK and to learn from global narrative change practitioners felt too good to be true! 

The first day of the conference arrived, and I felt the awkwardness and excitement of a first date. I was not sure who to approach, where to sit, or what to do with my hands. Then the facilitators welcomed us to the space and I began to relax. Matthew Armstead led us in the diversity welcome. I felt welcome as they named aspects of my identity: bisexual, survivor, in my 20s, feeling nervous, religious background. 

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Emily Kenway

Guest Blog Epistemic injustice: an invitation to ask new questions Emily Kenway

Who is allowed to know things in our society? Duwayne Brooks wasn’t. When Duwayne’s friend, Stephen Lawrence, was murdered in a racist attack in south-east London in 1993, he told the police what he’d seen: six white thugs killing his friend while shouting racist abuse. But his testimony was discounted because, as a young Black man, Brooks was not considered a credible witness by the Metropolitan police.

The political philosopher Miranda Fricker describes Brooks’ experience at the hands of the state as ‘testimonial injustice’ – an injustice perpetrated when someone’s account is rejected because of prejudices about their characteristics. Systemic oppression makes you unbelievable, no matter what you saw, no matter what you say. Examples abound: consider sex workers who are told they can’t have been raped because they’re sex workers; women who urge doctors to believe their physical pain, only to be told it’s in their heads; children whose disclosures of abuse are smoothed over for the sake of adult peace; trans people whose gender identities are derided… the list goes on.

This is, for Fricker, part of an overarching problem which she calls ‘epistemic injustice’, and which I’m introducing here as one portal (of many) into understanding why we need to ensure narrative change is led by those currently excluded from that work. Episteme means knowledge, so ‘epistemic injustice’ is a way of conceptualising the many oppressions perpetrated in the realm of knowledge. Who gets recognised as knowing things? Which knowledge counts? How must knowledge be packaged and communicated to be credible? I’m sure we can all think of many encounters with gatekeepers of these capacities, both our own and those we’ve witnessed.

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Hannah Smith

Email Course Getting started with Narrative Change Register Now!

The basics of framing, storytelling and testing for social change, straight to your inbox.

Registration is now closed. We hope to run the course again in 2024, so keep an eye on the website and our newsletter.

Working on communications and creative action when you’re trying to make change can often leave you feeling stretched. Really stretched. We’re rapid-responding, reacting to the latest news story, campaign setback, or key moment. Whilst fighting for liberation amidst multiple crises, we don’t get the time we need to analyse how society’s stories and beliefs are shaping the landscape we’re campaigning within. We don’t get the creative space we need to let our radical imaginations loose. And we don’t get the support we need to work out how our ideas will play out further down the line, affecting the way people think, feel and act in the longer term.

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faith x

Building Our Narrative Power Dreams of a foodie Dreaming... #2

When I started thinking about what to write I had been cat sitting for my best friend who has a pretty decked out kitchen – and I was planning to make the most of all the fancy appliances. While that did not happen, I instead was left with the feeling of being nourished. I ate well, spent time in nature, I moved my body and finally did some reading of a book I’m excited to borrow once my best friend is done with it.

gold maine coon cat sitting on floorboards
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Kaan

Building Our Narrative Power Why a participant-led course? Dreaming... #1

When we think of learning, we often think of schools, colleges, universities. But learning is an ancient thing, that existed before all of these institutions and will exist long after. Its something that crosses species: like how honeybees dance to teach others where to find the best flowers. Every species on earth is what it is today because it learnt from the generations that came before.

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Hannah Smith

Apply Now We’re launching ‘Building Our Narrative Power’ Applications now open

Are you a changemaker, a storyteller, or someone who’s looking to shift the way people think, feel, and act? Then we’d love to learn, grow, and build collective narrative power with you.

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.
Thanks to everyone who has applied, we’ll be in touch soon.
If you’re interested in supporting the programme as a mentor, trainer, or content partner, email our Workshops Lead, , with a bit of info about you, how you’d like to be involved and any useful links 🙂

We’re excited to launch the ‘Building Our Narrative Power’ course—supporting people who have lived experience of the issues they are fighting for, to skill-up and shape the narrative for justice and social change, to create waves of action and lasting progress. We’re looking for 16 people who are all passionate about transforming societal narratives across social, climate, and economic justice.

FIND OUT MORE

Webpage graphic

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Elena

Decolonising Narratives: Part 3 How can we decolonise narrative work? Decoloniality as queering

We are living off expired stories. Stories that expire can no longer dance with you. They are lethargic or stuck, they can’t move things in generative ways any more, but we often feel we cannot let them go. Many of these expired stories give us a sense of security, purpose and direction—precisely because they seem stable and solid.

Vanessa Andreotti

Reeling in the grief of the summer of 2020, I reflected on how the work of narrative change was itself “living off expired stories”; its practices embedded in racism.

Here, I’d like to try shifting gears and evolving where we’re at. What might the work of learning and doing narrative change look like if we moved it beyond coloniality, capitalism, patriarchy and whiteness?

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Hannah Smith

Decolonising Narratives: Part 2 The Crumbling Foundations Unpacking the narratives at the foundation of our broken systems

“Narratives are powerful. They can swing juries and elections. They can fill prisons. But they can also fill the streets.”

The Narrative Initiative

As we shared in our first blog of the series, we believe that our societies are built on narratives. These narratives—of our past, present and future—provide the scaffolding for our political systems, for our social structures, and for our own thinking. They shape how we understand and value our relationships, how we classify ‘us’ and ‘them’, how we treat others, our expectations for ourselves, our communities, our leaders.

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Hannah Smith

New Publication Media That Moves 1 Creating anti-racist representations of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK media

The Media that Moves project is one of the best things we have been involved in. It gives us the strength to go forward on the right road to tackle the negative news that journalists publish about us every day.”
Mena Mongan, Community Engagement Officer at London Gypsies and Travellers

We know the media environment around Gypsy and Traveller people is harmful, discriminatory and racist. This in turn fuels the damaging policy, exclusion and prejudice the communities face to this day. The bigger question is why? And what can be done to move towards anti-racism in the UK’s media?

Launched today, Media That Moves is a report from PIRC in partnership with Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange and London Gypsies and Travellers. Based on 30 interviews with journalists, editors and activists and workshops with the Gypsy and Traveller community, the report examines the role of the media in perpetuating negative stereotypes, influences on the media, dominant narratives, and where they come from. Read more

Bec

Comms Good Practice To segment or not to segment? When to use audience segmentation in campaigns

Segmentation research needs to serve our strategy, not be the strategy. And we should only do it if it’s the best way to understand our audience, if we keep our communications rooted in our values, and if we can actually target the segments we find. 

On the face of it, audience segmentation is a no brainer for campaigners.

Sorting people into groups makes sense because there are real and important differences between us—like our beliefs about what causes poverty, or whether the UK should have left the EU. We know that some of these differences are significant in how people respond to communications. And campaigners need to communicate in ways that are relatable and compelling for different audiences.

If the golden rule of communication is to understand who you are communicating with, then segmentation surely helps you do that? 

It definitely can. But without the right tools and strategy to hand, it can be used in a crude and damaging way.

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Richard Hawkins & Hannah Smith

New Publications Framing Worksheets DIY Framing Project Guides

Off the back of our Framing Climate Justice project, we produced this set of six worksheets to help you deliver different aspects of framing and narrative work…

  1. Project Design
    How to design and plan your very own framing project.
  2. Our Story
    How to build common ground in your sector or movement.
  3. Audience Research
    How to better understand how your audience thinks about your issue.
  4. Comms Objective
    How to use your research so far to set a clear and measurable objective.
  5. Create Frames
    How to generate creative ideas to meet your comms objective.
  6. Test Frames
    How to test your new communication ideas to see if they work.

For more background on these, see the FCJ Process Page.

Ashley

Messaging Guide Climate Justice Messaging Guide It’s here!

The Climate Justice Messaging Guide is tailor made for campaigners, activists, spokespeople, and anyone trying to talk about climate justice. 

The guide brings together learnings from Framing Climate Justice, a participatory movement framing project that we coordinated, alongside our friends at 350.org and NEON, and a group of 26 amazing campaigners and activists seeking to firmly centre justice in climate change communications. 

It’s a critical time to make sure we are talking about climate change in the right way. We need to find effective ways of framing climate change with reference to historical injustices and colonialism, acknowledging that those who are most affected around the world are the least responsible, while advocating solutions that redistribute power and centre communities on the frontline. 

Simple stuff right? 

While it might not always be straightforward, it can be done. We’ve designed the Climate Justice Messaging Guide to help you navigate talking about climate justice. 

The guide includes:

  • common attacks and how to mitigate them;
  • helpful words to use for talking climate justice;
  • key metaphors to help develop messaging;
  • stats to help tell stories;
  • details on how people in the UK think about climate justice;
  • a core messaging outline.

The guide is available for download here

We’d love to know how you get on and are always open to feedback. 

There’s loads more work and research we have planned for how to frame climate justice so if you’re interested in updates please sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter

Richard Hawkins

Freelance Opportunity Work with us Fundraiser

PIRC are looking for a freelance fundraiser to lead six months of trust fundraising to support a programme of work to diversify, democratise and deepen civil society’s work on narrative change.

We’re looking for someone who can develop our existing fundraising plan; draft and complete funding applications; research trusts/foundations; meet with funders to build relationships; and work with team members to complete general fundraising activities.

Days: Estimate of 50 days over 6 months initially.
Rate: £300 London / £250 Rest of UK per day (negotiable).
Contract: Fixed-term, 6 months, with 3-month review and the possibility of extension and/or a permanent position, dependent on funding.
Location: Remote
Deadline: 12pm, Monday 2nd August

For more info, visit publicinterest.org.uk/fundraiser