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Blog: Everyone Has A Story

Emma Liddell, Evaluation Support Manager, ESS gives an insight into Everyone Has a Story programme.

You could hear a pin drop as over 100 delegates heard an audio recording of a young girl talking about her experience of growing up with a mum recovering from problem alcohol and other drug use.

 "I would like to change my parents. Make them happier, play games and sit out the back with me." Female aged 9

The event to launch the findings of Everyone Has a Story, marked the end of this partnership programme run by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland to explore ways to better hear what young people affected by parental substance misuse have to say, and how their voices can influence both practice and policy.

The 18 month programme consisted of four research elements:

1. What we hear from stories - A learning set of practitioners facilitated by ESS explored methods and approaches for active listening that capture children and young people's real experiences

2.Practioners tell us... An online survey was completed by 207 practitioners working with children and young people whose parents are at any stage of recovery

3. How young people share - A group of young people from 'Clued Up' in Fife worked with Ice Cream Architecture to consider: 'How you would want to share your story?'

4. The evidence tells us... A desk-based literature and evidence review of studies around protective and risk factors for the support needs of children and young people.

Elaine Wilson of the Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) presented some of the programme’s learning:

  • Young people talk about ‘change’ not recovery
  • We need to listen to young people before jumping to action
  • Children and young people have ideas about how they want to tell and share their story
  • We need to continue to improve joined-up approaches 

The resource ‘Everyone Has A Story’ recounts the learning journey all those involved have been on, the key learning points, and a practical guide for capturing authentic experiences of young people.

Diane Kennedy and Emma Liddell from ESS have been working closely with a core group of 9 practitioners that support young people and families affected by substance misuse to develop a method for capturing the words and emotions of young people in formal and informal settings. We asked them: what has changed for you? One member answered:

“Taking our time and ensuring that young people are ready to share their stories - stop trying to fix things too early.  Increase in reflective practice.”

The action learning set members have been on a rollercoaster ride, dealing with a sensitive area of work. They have wrestled with boundaries around ethics, managed their emotions while hearing back to back (often traumatic) experiences, dealt with complicated material, developed and trialled a new evaluation method and have emerged triumphant and ready for more!

Click here to find out more and to try the resource for yourself.

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