Storytelling is a key part of everyday life and sharing stories is the bedrock of relationship-centred practice. Feelings are often expressed through stories and we can be profoundly moved, making us curious to find out more. In this way, telling our stories out loud or in writing can provide new insights and help to shape deeper understanding of other peoples’ experience. Stories can also be a way into considering other people’s perspectives, helping us to work better together to shape how things are done. In LIFE we are continually curious about what helps people to tell their own stories, and hear the stories of others. This Unfolding Stories resource is one way in which to facilitate story-telling. The unfolding story relates to the fact that the story is being unfolded on a piece of paper, and also that what is written is just the beginning, the unfolding story can be the introduction of a story that continues to emerge.

The How

Pre-prepare a number of opening prompts, which participants will complete to form a full sentence. These can be tailored to whatever topic you would like the participants to write about. Please see examples under The ‘Where and When’.

Each participant starts with a blank sheet of paper. The facilitator introduces the Unfolding Stories collaborative tool. Facilitator advises the participants that as a group they will be writing a 6 line story, and so the facilitator invites people to write as clearly as possible, so that it can be read by others, and to write in a size that will allow six lines to fit on the page.

Facilitator suggests that they write the topic that the story is about on the bottom of the page.

Facilitator calls out the first prompt, (may also be useful to have this prompt on flipchart paper where possible- one prompt per page so each prompt remains a surprise) and asks participants to write down the words the facilitator has said and then to complete the sentence.

After participants have finished writing their sentence they are then asked to fold the paper forward so that their sentence is no longer visible, while bearing in mind that this will be repeated 5 times so to be aware of the fold not being too big.

The participants then pass the piece of paper to the person on their left. The facilitator advises that they are to write the next sentence under the fold of the sheet of paper (i.e. not on the fold).

The facilitator then calls out the second line, and the above process is repeated until all 6 lines have been written.

Once lines have been completed participants can then unfold their story by unfolding the piece of paper.

Each participant then reads out the story on their piece of paper to rest of the group.

Following this the group can have a general discussion or they may want to focus on a number of inquiry questions such as:

What did you connect with in the stories you heard?

Were there some common threads?

What are you curious about now?