A TALKING TRADITION
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
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]