Stories hold a power. Stories can make us aware of what is going on around us, they can inspire us and they can be an agent for positive social change. The Needmor Fund, an organisation which works to help others bring about social justice, noted that ‘social engagement begins when we share our stories and social change happens when we agree together to change the ending’. Storytelling is a tool for change and when we share and utilise our stories, we can inspire action to make our communities fairer places where everyone can thrive.

At Amplify NI, we believe that people from all walks of life should be able to tell their story and put forward their ideas for social change. We believe that everyone can make a difference and so our approach is to listen deeply and tread carefully.

I have been working on the Amplify NI project since June 2018 and the best part of my job is hearing the inspiring stories of people we work with and their ideas to make positive social change in their communities. In the five months I have been working here I have heard some fantastic stories and come across some truly innovative ideas for projects to make Northern Ireland a fairer and more equal place. The emphasis the Amplify NI project places on storytelling is what attracted me to apply for the job in the first place. Amplifying people’s stories and their narratives of the better future they want for their communities is a vital element of the work that Amplify NI does. Robert McKee, an author and lecturer, remarked that “storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world” and my role in the Amplify NI project has proved that he was right on the mark. Stories provide a mechanism for us to share our hopes, inspiration, ideas and vision for the future that is relatable engaging and perhaps most importantly – human. Storytelling is embedded in human nature, from the ghost stories that delighted and terrified us as kids to the tear-jerking stories we hear on social media that spark in us a desire to fight for social justice to our own stories.

I find stories engaging. I loved reading as a kid and I still do as stories have always inspired me. One of my favourite stories is The Lord of the Rings and something that Galadriel said to Frodo still resonates with me, “even the smallest person can change the course of the future”. Galadriel is referring to Frodo’s small stature as a hobbit and his momentous task of destroying the one ring of power, however I believe it rings true in our work. In the Amplify NI project, we work with individuals, community groups and organisations who have an idea to bring about positive social change in their community. We work with ideas and projects, big or small because like Galadriel, we believe that a small project proposed by one person can positively affect the future of their community.

Stories also help us connect and build those positive relationships that are key to social innovation and positive social action. Hearing a story that inspires you and thinking that you would like to change the ending of that story is indeed how many amazing projects and campaigns are started. All of the activism and storytelling I have been involved in (including the Amplify NI project), started with me hearing a story and wanting to get involved to change the ending of that story.

Amplify NI has worked with a wide range of people, community groups and organisations who are passionate about creating positive social change in their community. We have come across inspiring stories of hope and change and we want to share them with you. Join us for an evening of storytelling on the 21st November 2018 from 6pm-8pm in The Duncairn.

Find more information and where to RSVP here on our events page. Food will be provided, if you have any dietary requirements or any other questions please contact Shannon: shannon.downey@youngfoundation.org or 07908010264.

“If we change the story we tell ourselves then it leaves everything open to possibilities” – Charity worker, Derry/Londonderry.

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