DHI is a really good example of a project taking risks with fresh approaches. Peer led to some degree, it uses the symbiotic and therapeutic value of one addict helping another. There also seems to be a lot of creative projects available to the clients, so I was very excited to be working with DHI.

We started our relationship with DHI with a short 2-day training workshop in April. DHI Support staff Nicky, Emmie and Sarah (who is now co-facilitating) attended and we went through the basics of the Centre for Digital Storytelling method of delivering workshops. After a brief introduction to the Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling we made some very simple stories. I think it was a great opportunity to allow the commissioners to get some hands on experience to better understand what would be required from any potential participants thus allowing them to better assess suitability for the workshop.

A few weeks later we started on the first of a series of 5 workshops with peers accessing DHI's services.

We did a 3-day workshop and 3 films were produced. The storytellers were a little reluctant at first to put pen to paper to write the script. Marc it became clear, began to approach the telling of the story through images first and written script coming after. Dave worked steadily and conscientiously towards finding the point of change and brought it alive nicely. It was rewarding how open the group were as a whole to trying a variety of approaches to the project. K had come with a degree of self-awareness and insight into her story that was, I believe partly informed by her work in the field over the years that she has been in recovery. Her story was built on a very strong script, an understanding of what she wanted to do with the finished film and an on-going reflective approach to how best to tell her story and what it's meaning was to both her and her intended audience.

On the next workshop the following week Darren, Mick, and Ana made a diverse range of films. The theme of family came up again. Things left unsaid to a family member and unresolved and that needed to be examined and re framed, and expressed with a new insight. Ana told a story about days gone by at the Stonehenge festival. We are in a continued communication about how she can expand on the story to do a larger piece on this important area of British cultural history. Be interested to see where it goes. Darren’s idea grew into a meditation about how a genuine act of kindness can free an individual from the constraints of being judged and labelled and encourage a rebirth. A great subject for a digital story if ever there was one.

A couple of weeks later we were back working with Sam, Gemma, Marie and Roy. Again a range of experience in the room. It was fascinating to see the stories develop. Sam told a story about being robbed while in addiction and the spiritual progress he has made that allowed him to forgive the perpetrator when they met again in more positive circumstances. Gemma had a powerful story to tell and pushed through into extra time to do justice to it. Marie was really open to new ideas about fresh approaches to the use of images especially. Roy worked hard honing down his script and I think got a powerful experience from the reframing of his story while editing. I felt that the story was very much still being processed as he was relating it which presented certain challenges. A great group with lots of learning, and of course some unique films.

The following week we again embarked on a fresh set of stories with Steve, Wayne and Dave. We didn't have the wonderful Sarah co-facilitating for some of this workshop, which was keenly felt at times. Dave had a clear idea where he wanted to show his film as he had seen Marc's on the Chandos House treatment centre website. This was interesting to me as it fed into theme of the community of stories I thought could develop, where one story might bounce off another or connections would start to form. Wayne told a clear direct story about a feeling of mortality from a near drug overdose and how that inspired him to start to turn his life around. Unfamiliar with the software at first, he soon picked it up, even with half an eye on the summer afternoon sunshine blazing outside. Steve had come from the Life Recovery group. He set about using his skills at writing poetry to craft a truly unique, honest and original film

The following week we ran a workshop with Roz, Bex, Rory and Toby. Roz had come from the Family and Carers service at DHI and had a story she had reflected on about a family relationship she was struggling to come to terms with. She absorbed the ideas we discussed around The Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling and came in on the second day with a really full and rich script. She hunted down the images she needed from her archive and the result was a film that exudes integrity and a nuanced reflectivity. Toby battled through some false starts to arrive at a story alive with spontaneity and dark humour. He brought some musical elements into the film and we discussed ways he could use the software he was learning about in the group to further his future music projects. Rory had a clear story from the start also partly about missed opportunities and the need to learn from these experiences and turn what at first appears to be failure into important life lessons to live by. “Never Give Up”.