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The power of storytelling

Our Systems Change work is a process of working collaboratively with people to understand the root causes of disadvantage for young people. ‘Systems Change’ theory can be very alienating and overly academic. It can exclude some people in our communities from wanting to learn more and participate in change.



Donya Lamrhari

The power of storytelling

Storytelling helps us to understand Systems Change better. As we listen to stories told by others, we recognise diverse experiences and perspectives. Roots to Change is a podcast I host for The Children’s Society, which aims to make Systems Change talk more accessible by bringing social change to life through storytelling and music.  These tools can help listeners to connect with their emotions and empathise with the young people most affected.

Listen to the most recent episode here:

Roots to change

Storytelling is Power

A teenager with medium-dark skin and dark curly hair is lying on a bed. They have headphones on and are holding a phone and a mug, smiling

Storytelling is power

Storytelling is a tool of power, but some stories have been hidden because the people telling them may be from a marginalised community. The Roots to Change podcast aims to interview people who do not normally feature in mainstream narratives.

For example, my episode on intersectionality with Craig Pinkney featured the music of a young up-and-coming artist named Eko and his track ‘Black to Reality’. In his track, Eko raps about his pride in his cultural identity: “searching for clarity, I’m black and I’m proud it just runs in the family”. He also unpicks the prejudice and violence the black community face, saying “It’s safe to be a white man, but you’re armed and dangerous if you’re black.”

The power of storytelling

The rawness and honesty of his music brings this episode to life and lets us sense the pain of others so that we can collectively make changes.

Storytelling is healing

We can change narratives to heal individually and collectively. Phoenix, Ayo, Ibrahim, TJ and Ope are a part of the Youth Led Commission on Separated Children (YLCSC) and they are campaigning for all unaccompanied young people who arrive in the UK alone seeking asylum to get a legal guardian. When I interviewed them, they unpicked many narratives that discriminated against young people who seek asylum and replaced these narratives with ones that were more compassionate.

Ayo told me that “there are lots of things in the media saying about ‘young asylum seekers are coming here to steal our jobs’, even ‘migrants as a whole are coming here to steal our jobs’...there’s a shortage of jobs in UK as a whole.”

A young woman wearing a hijab is looking through a window, appearing concerned.

Help all child refugees get legal guardians

After long harrowing journeys to the UK, many children seeking safety arrive here alone. Guardians make sure they're heard and help them adapt to life in a new country. 

Storytelling is healing

Ayo reminds us that young people have dreams and ambitions, like the rest of us. “Everybody has their own talent, everybody has something they can bring into the community” and that young people that seek asylum do not want to “steal people’s jobs”, they want to build their dreams and make a difference. The power of their story is that it reshapes the narrative. It also encourages a shared responsibility in how we view and relate to each other. This way, we can start asking bigger questions, like "what do we stand for as a UK?" (Ayo).

What do we stand for as a UK? What do we stand for as a UK?

– Ayo

Meeting young changemakers

We have released 3 episodes so far, interviewing both professionals and young people and covering topics on cultural competency, the experiences of young people who seek asylum in the UK, and the importance of working with young people from an intersectional lens.  

Recently, we have decided to focus more on the stories of young changemakers, giving them a platform as many young people are leading the way to drive system changes. I continue to be deeply moved by the power of storytelling, the courage of the young people, their drive for change and their capacity as leaders in our communities.

Please reach out if you are a young person or group of young people with an important story to share about change or if you know of any young people that would be interested in being interviewed for Roots to Change: