We all know that to have any impact at all, innovation needs to be driven by the needs and aspirations of people who will benefit from it. However, in a public sector dealing with lack of funds, staff shortages, political instability, it is not always easy for people who design and deliver public services to pause, listen, and reconnect with their purpose.
In this context, stories of everyday people serve to generate new kinds of evidence about what matters to people, and about what is and isn’t working. They also provide an emotional connection, necessary to mobilise sometimes sceptical civil servants around the need for change. Film is a powerful medium to do this. I have been leading the Innovation Unit's multimedia storytelling practice, and here is a short sample of this work.
I worked with Postcode Films to produce an ethnographic video for Certitude, a mental health charity based in South London. The film follows the story of Sandra, a person with lived experience of mental health, and explores the issues linked to cultural awareness of mental health practitioners. It will be used for internal training purposes, to encourage more human-centred ways of working, and to enable staff to reflect on their own practice.
SLaM and Lambeth Council are working together to facilitate joined-up working across adult mental health and children services at a local level. One of the outcomes is a training pack for professionals from both agencies to better support parents with mental health problems and their families. To assist this process, I produced a film with a single mother in recovery, a father with a long history of mental illness, and a young carer. Their stories highlight the challenges linked to parenting and mental health, and provide an insight into what better support might look like.
I produced a short film about Yasmin, a woman who moved from Somalia to the UK as a refugee. Yasmin shares her experience of experiencing a mental health crisis, being at risk of losing her children, and her experience with social care services. The film was shown during workshops with social workers in Tri-borough to inspire them to reconnect with the purpose of their work as part of Focus on Practice, a project aiming to get social work teams to think and work differently with families.
This short film was produced on behalf of the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative. Airdrina, 52, shares her experience of mental health, and tells the recent changes she has seen in her life as a result of getting a Personal Budget. More recovery stories can be found on the Lambeth Living Well website.