Community Development

Helen and Rick between them have worked with almost everyone -individuals, random groupings, whole communities -all around the world .

this means - schemes with refugee and ESL groups, the elderly - intergenerational and reminiscence, whole community oral history initiatives, those in conditions of rural isolation or urban deprivation, women's groups,parenting groups, youths and youth leaders, within mental health, with all sorts of disabled groups except the profoundly deaf, as part of social inclusion schemes, in after school and holiday playschemes etc etc.

"they're better than a knife fight" Javanese street kid, when inter-gang rivalry almost interupted an event.

Different ages, needs, energies etc require radically different approaches, but the essence of both Helen's story focus and Rick's music work is to give people
-space to listen, reflect, and make their own inward connections.
-'tools' and confidence to express themselves creatively
-desire to reach out and share with / listen to others
-experience of the positive effects of being part of a mutually supportive group.

Click here for a short story

Reminiscence/Memory/Community story/Oral history/the Elderly
Family groups/Refugees/ESL
Health and healing/Special need groups
Youth groups


Helen's story workshops and projects take many forms, but their fundamental purpose is to bring people together, both to listen and to talk, to share experience, and to celebrate connection.
Projects draw on, and weave together, stories of all kinds - true life anecdotes, related folktales, fantasy, history, local lore, myth and fragments of memory.
Once shared, participants' stories are recorded and transcribed, and form the basis of some form of final 'outcome' -again determined by the needs of the project.
Past 'outcomes' include a mixed media exhibition / a story walk / an intergenerational performance /a picture book / an audio collection /a story seat / a memory web/ an illustrated local map.(See publications list, www.)
"In your tactful way you have brought out the best in all of us." (Joe OAP, Sheppey Project 2001)

Projects have been set up in response to rural isolation, urban depression, intercultural or intergenerational mistrust, social or regional change or development, or simply a desire for community celebration.
"When our parents died we didn't need tombstones -we had their stories."
(Duncan Williamson, Scottish traveller.)

Past projects include Sheppey Pride of Place, 2001/ Bethnal Green Interact Proj. 1999/
Help the Aged rural Somerset 1998/ Southwark Story Swap 1997-8 -see photo overleaf/ Charting the Changes, Kent 1995-7/ Breaking the Silence, Shropshire,1994 and After Offa - Living Life Along the Border -(2011) a year long Heritage Lottery funded initiative celebrating, recording and archiving changing patterns of life and work along the English / Welsh borders. Cloth of Dreams (2018) with storyteller Debbie Guneratne, was a visual arts and storytelling project in London, to bring together older residents and more recently arrived, mostly, refugees. Helen was also Director of the National Community Folktale Centre 1987-90 )


As with community story focus, through these workshops Helen seeks to bring people together to share experience, and to celebrate connection and culture, breaking through language and other barriers (mixed age, mixed ability, mixed expectation). We begin with simple stories -sometimes no more than the story behind our own names - and drawing, craft and even cooking, tasting, and tactile activities to provoke memories, have fun, and facilitate communication in all languages at once, even without words. Gradually we find ways of sharing true life stories, related folktales, dreams, myths and beliefs within the group, and then (if this is so desired) work together to find a satisfactory way of presenting these to a wider public.
Such public outcomes have included a 'life-threds weave,' a story cloth' dual language books and tapes, a 'taste and talk' installation. fragments of memory. See also Cloth of Dreams project above (2018).
"You give me such confidence; you make me remember stories and because I am with you I find that I can tell them, and the words come out alright…" (participant in refugee women's project 'Sensory Detour' / Apples and Snakes.)

"Thank-you for giving me the words to pass on a part of me to people with my blood but not my language"
"Stories speak in pictures. You have shown me I can use that language here."


"mythmaking…may even be one of the greatest of arts… it is in some ways more akin to music.. it goes beyond the expression of things we have already felt…arouses in us sensations…as though we had broken out of our normal mode of consciousness…It gets under our skin, hits us at a level deeper than our thoughts " CS Lewis
Each group, each person is so different. Through story and music we try to create a group atmosphere where people can feel more confident to express themselves in a variety of creative ways:
not to impose a set of preconceptions on a group but rather to prepare solid ground on which people can walk fearlessly.

Rick was Visiting Artist at 2 psychiatric wards at the Redwoods Centre, Shropshire 2013 in a 3 month drumming and rhythm project. Since this time, he has become a regular, weekly, artist there, working on 3 wards.

(Joyce - Somerset Story Project)

SNAIL icon
(A well intentioned man found a falcon.
He'd never seen a hunting hawk before.
"Poor bird," he said. "What a state you are in."
He cut back its talons, straightened its beak,
And trimmed its feathers.
"There!" he said."Now you look like a bird again. "
And he went on his way very pleased with himself.)


We have 101 reasons for working with 'youth' groups, but please do no ask us in simply to "develop their job interview techniques."

Nasrudin was being interviewed
for a job in merchant banking.
"What have you really got your
sights on?" asked the personnel
manager. "We like people with
a bit of drive, a bit of ambition."
"Good." said Nasrudin. " I want
your job."
"My job? Are you mad?"
"Perhaps, "said Nasrudin. "Is
it a necessary qualification?"


In addition to one-off, sometimes themed performances
(see ENTERTAINMENT section),
and workshop work in conjunction with schools
(see EDUCATION section, with particular reference to literacy - NB. 'Frances Fisher', the award winning novel written with 120 children from 4 Sunderland primary schools, was a library initiated and co-ordinated project)
Helen and Rick do a variety of specifically library projects
The Lincolnshire Libraries Bookboat
Tall Stories Big Sounds
Camden Libs 2001-09-08 Lambeth libraries 2001 Islington libraries 2013


In addition to one-off, sometimes themed performances (see ENTERTAINMENT section), and workshop work in conjunction with schools (see EDUCATION section, with particular reference to history)
Helen and Rick do a variety of specifically museum projects
Horniman Museum
Bedford Museum
Science Museum
British Museum
Museum of London
Kensington Palace Museum
Mythstories Museum, Shropshire

Wenffrwd, Llansilin, nr. Oswestry SY10 7PZ
or 56 Westgate Road, London SE25 4LZ
Phone: 01691 791333 or 0208 662 0736
e-mail: suitablelanguage@gmail.com