This month will see Na­tional Sto­ry­telling Week take place, an event that aims to show this age-old tra­di­tion is as rel­e­vant now as ever

EDP Norfolk - - EDUCATION - WORDS: El­lie Fells

For many of us, the words ‘once upon a time’ will take us back to our in­fant school days. How­ever, the an­cient art of story-telling is by no means some­thing that should be rooted in child­hood and shar­ing tales with one an­other can have hugely pos­i­tive im­pacts on both the young and old.

The So­ci­ety for Sto­ry­telling works to keep this tra­di­tion alive. Founded as a char­ity in 1993, the so­ci­ety now con­sists of 220 pro­fes­sional story tell­ers. “The idea was that the So­ci­ety would help to pro­mote sto­ry­telling across the coun­try,” chair Paul Jack­son ex­plains. Their flag­ship event is an an­nual Na­tional Sto­ry­telling Week, which this year is tak­ing place be­tween Jan­uary 26 and Feb­ru­ary 2. The week will see or­gan­i­sa­tions from across the coun­try come to­gether to prac­tice this art form, with hun­dreds of events tak­ing place ev­ery­where from com­mu­nity cen­tres through to West­min­ster Abbey.

Schools across the coun­try are be­ing en­cour­aged to take part in the week, with the hope that the shar­ing of sto­ries will be ben­e­fi­cial to both a child’s learn­ing and to their men­tal health. “When­ever I go into schools and tell chil­dren a story, I ask how it makes them feel. They al­ways say some­thing like, ‘It’s re­lax­ing’,” Paul says. Telling sto­ries to each other is a way of get­ting chil­dren to take a step away from their com­puter screens and mo­bile phones, en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the use of their imag­i­na­tion. “We want chil­dren to cre­ate their own sto­ries all week,” Paul adds, with the so­ci­ety urg­ing teach­ers to give their stu­dents the free­dom to tell what­ever nar­ra­tives they like.

How­ever, Na­tional Sto­ry­telling Week cer­tainly isn’t re­stricted to the younger gen­er­a­tion. “Story tell­ers will go out into small com­mu­nity groups, nurs­ing homes, shel­tered hous­ing, to peo­ple who don’t have hous­ing at all,” Paul says. Com­ing to­gether to share sto­ries is a great way of re­duc­ing lone­li­ness, cre­at­ing a feel­ing of be­long­ing. ‘It’s not just the phrase “ev­ery­one has a story to tell”, but rather that ev­ery story is im­por­tant to that par­tic­u­lar per­son,’ Paul ex­plains. He adds that it is es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for those suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia, with the hope that telling sto­ries will help in link­ing to­gether fond, frag­mented mem­o­ries. “Dur­ing the time in that story peo­ple can be taken out of their trou­bles,” he says. Any­one can get in­volved with Na­tional Sto­ry­telling Week, and in­for­ma­tion packs for hold­ing your own event are avail­able to down­load on the So­ci­ety’s web­site. There’s no time like the present.

Find out more at sfs.org.uk, and if you are in­ter­ested in or­gan­is­ing an event, email mem­ber­[email protected]

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