'…Sharon's ability to engage vulnerable groups of people through storytelling is quite remarkable…’ Dr Sue Jennings DTh; University of Derby; NDP Ltd.
Using storytelling to access communication skills and memories, Sharon’s applied storytelling practise addresses the emotional and social needs of particular groups.
She has worked with a huge range of groups including children and adults with learning difficulties, the physically disabled and visually impaired. She established a therapeutic storytelling practice at the charity Freedom from Torture, using traditional tales from participants’ homelands to access personal stories. She has developed models of story sharing for working with frail elderly people and those with memory impairment.
‘… I was very impressed when a group of older, listless people became bright, aware and responsive once the storytelling got underway…' Dr. Sue Jennings
A visiting tutor to the Romanian Association of Play and Drama Therapy, she teaches psychologists, nurses therapists and teachers about using storytelling as part of their professional practice. She has co-edited 'The International Handbook of Therapeutic Stories and Storytelling' for Routledge Kegan Paul'
Artistic director of a number of community storytelling groups, she collaborates with other artists and across art forms to deliver projects that focus on people and places. Below are some examples of work with Spoken World.
Together with storyteller, musician, digital/graphic artist, Jem Dick, our project "To End all Wars" commemorated the centenary of the end of WW1. Combining primary school children and adults with learning disabilities, we visited local places relevant to our theme. After our trip to the giant cap badges carved into the chalk on Salisbury Plain, the class designed their own cap badge and reproduced the image by planting it with flowers in front of their school.
As with other projects, we created a booklet and DVD. To create the booklet we used oral history, family stories, creative writing and composed poems. As one of the children had an original WW1 postcard in her family, we created postcards of our own and wrote them as though they were being sent between the trenches and home.
In 'The Making of Wessex', we used myths and legends to look at how incomers over the centuries have influenced our culture and 'story landscape'. Digital artist, Jem, was able to use even our most disabled participant's contributions for the booklet's artwork. Below you can see some examples of how drawings and doodles became borders, some even referencing Early Medieval illustration.
Story Share worked with elderly people in residential and day care settings using different storytelling approaches for those with and without memory issues. The participants told so many stories themselves that we thought it a shame to loose them. The idea of a storytelling calendar was born, in which each page is dedicated to a particular resident and includes a story from them and the traditional poems and stories we shared as a group.
Multi-instrumentalist (Jem again!) using music to get participants into a listening mood and enchant stories out of them.