#COVIDConversations, a digital storytelling project capturing everyday experiences of people across Europe

| Anna Eaton

Stories are the way we understand and make sense of our world. They have the power to motivate us and change our thinking. They bring to life situations we never knew about or could imagine. This year, Covid-19 is the backdrop to all of our stories.

At the start of lockdown, we knew it was vital to hear, listen to and learn from people’s stories about how the pandemic had affected them. In the words of Clenton Farquharson MBE: “in order to rebuild we need to listen to the pain of our communities and people’s stories of what they have been through.” 

One of the best story-gathering organisations we know of are People’s Voice Media and at the start of lockdown they began #COVIDConversations.

#COVIDConversations is a storytelling project that People’s Voice Media launched with members of their Community Reporting network. The aim is to create a shared public space for stories about life during lockdown and in the wake of Covid. The project focuses on listening to the voices of those seldom heard to gain insights into the wealth of experiences out there. This space enables communities to share their lived experience of lockdown and Covid with one another and institutional powers, to build a better society post-pandemic focused on cooperation and solidarity. 

As a partner organisation to People’s Voice Media we have been lucky enough to train as Community Reporters and take part in recording stories for #COVIDConversations. And there are now over 40 individual and collective stories uploaded on the Community Reporter website.

The stories represent everyday experiences of communities across Europe, from Manchester to Budapest. There are stories from people who are shielding, people with disabilities, carers, students, parents, personal assistants, veterans, health workers, young people and many more. Some talk about finding peace and enjoying a new structure during lockdown and taking up forgotten hobbies. Others explain how having operations postponed has affected them, how they are making masks, coping with isolation and finding new ways to stay in touch online.

But this description only scratches the surface. These are stories, thoughts and experiences filled with hope and ideas. As Isaac, a fellow Community Reporter mused whilst telling his story: “It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, it’s a bit unreal and it’s a bit of an opportunity.”

These stories need to be listened to, shared and acknowledged in order to rebuild. They provide a wonderful insight into things many of us can relate to – like missing loved ones and discovering a new found appreciation for the outdoors – as well as appreciating the nuanced challenges people have had to cope with and are still facing, and what needs to change. It will remind you have resourceful we are and how wide the world is.

People’s Voice Media and their Community Reporter Network are still recording Covid stories. If you are interested in taking part they have a ‘SHARE YOUR STORY’ function on the Community Reporter website. Here you can submit your experience of the pandemic as a text, photo, audio or video file.

They will soon be sharing the key insights and learnings from the stories – so watch this space!

You can watch, listen and read hear the #COVIDConversations stories here: https://communityreporter.net/covid-conversations

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