Two in five people across the UK live in a town, but it is the unique sense of place, identity and shared history of each town which means that policies aimed at their regeneration cannot be rolled out in a way that discounts how distinctive they are.
The Trust’s international research on case studies of towns that had transformed their fortunes found that a clear narrative was an important part of their success. All of the towns featured in the research had a sense of purpose and understanding of their history, which translated into a clear story about the town that local residents bought into, and was visible to external visitors. The stories of the places were the real, lived experiences of people there, and were built upon until they became an integral part of the local narrative. These stories developed into what the town is ‘known for’, and into how it sells itself to visitors.
To support storytelling in towns in the UK, the Trust supported individuals from Scarborough and Treorchy to tell the story of their town, following a competitive application process. A blog on the development of the story of Treorchy can be found here, and a video of highlights from the Talk of the Town Treorchy event can be accessed here.
The report of the project outlines the Trust’s reflections from supporting the two towns with storytelling expertise, and aims to provide learning for policymakers, practitioners and funders who wish to explore the concept of storytelling as a tool to improve community wellbeing.