Stories to connect with: The use of narrative methodology with disadvantaged children and young people in a community-based participatory research project

Satchwell, Candice orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8111-818X (2016) Stories to connect with: The use of narrative methodology with disadvantaged children and young people in a community-based participatory research project. In: Narrative Matters, July 2016, Victoria, Canada. (Unpublished)

[thumbnail of Presented version] PDF (Presented version) - Presentation
Restricted to Repository staff only


Official URL:


This paper explores the use of narrative methodology to collect stories from children and young people in a 30-month Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project in the UK (2015-2017), entitled ‘Stories to Connect With: disadvantaged children and young people creating phygital community artefacts to share their life-narratives of resilience and transformation’ ( As Principal Investigator I will describe some of the challenges and highlights of the work to date, including negotiating working in a community-based participatory research project with children and young people with a range of (dis)abilities and academics from a range of disciplines.
Further, through the application of theory from narratology I consider exactly how the young authors of these stories are connecting with their audiences. The project aims to bring marginalised voices of disadvantaged children and young people into the centre of the community to encourage connection and empathy through stories. We seek to challenge dominant discourses around unconventional families, while also furthering the neglected dimension within children’s literature of young people telling their own stories. This paper asks how such connections can occur and specifically details the steps in the journey of the stories from the edges of the community into the centre.
The children and young people all access services provided by a UK charity that supports vulnerable children. Through their participation in the project the children become powerful as not only providers of stories, but tellers of them: the narration of their lives will be determined by the young people themselves through collaborative assemblages of their stories, facilitated by well-known children’s authors. Together the young people, authors and researchers will recreate, blend, fictionalize and re-present their stories in ways that they are happy with as authentic yet triumphant. The latter part of the project involves the children designing phygital objects with university-based digital designers, which will be the means of communicating their stories to the public. For example, they may create a life-sized tree with story-containing apples that can be picked; a dragon that breathes out stories; or a park bench that murmurs. I present an interpretation and elaboration of the discourse structure of narrative prose (Short 1996) in an attempt to illustrate and elucidate the complexities of the relationship between the ‘author’ and ‘reader’ of these stories. The stories’ journey includes exploring where truth becomes fiction, where child becomes both narrator and narratee, and where the public becomes the reader. The mediation of the phygital objects in the telling of these stories is a further step in exploring how the public becomes the receiver of the story’s message. I discuss how multiple tellers of multiple stories from the edges of the community can combine to create meaningful messages for people in a more central location. The application of a framework from narratology to community-based participatory research raises bigger questions about the relationships between different parts of the community and between researcher and participant, as well as between author and owner, between story and narrative, and between teller and told.

Repository Staff Only: item control page