USW supporting Storytelling for Health conference in Swansea

Emily Underwood-Lee

Emily Underwood-Lee


A CONFERENCE which will show the vital interaction between storytelling and health is being held in Swansea later this week.

Storytelling for Health will take place across five sites in the city centre from Thursday, June 15 until Saturday, June 17, with more than 200 delegates from across the world attending.

It has been organised [WU1] by Prue Thimbleby, Arts in Health Co-Ordinator from the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), in partnership with Dr Emily Underwood-Lee, Research Fellow at University of South Wales’s (USW) George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling.

The event will be staged across venues in Swansea – including the Waterfront Museum, Dynevor Centre, the Glynn Vivian Gallery, The Reading Room at the Alex Design Centre, and the Volcano Theatre – and will also see the culmination of a series of related projects. University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University are also involved.

Delegates can hear from more than 90 speakers and exhibitors including welcome addresses from Baroness Eluned Morgan[WU2]  AM, Chair of Live Music Now in Wales, Trustee of Live Music Now UK, and chair of the Welsh Assembly Government cross-party group on Arts and Health; Arts Council of Wales chair Phil George, and there will also be a video welcome from Welsh Government Health Secretary Vaughan Gething. 

The University of South Wales (USW) has joined with ABMU Health Board on a project called Storytelling for Health

Award-winning Toronto-based storyteller Dan Yashinsky, Mike Wilson, professor of drama at Loughborough University; and Jac Soarsa, an artist based in Cardiff who will exhibit work from her residency in a Singleton Hospital, will also address the event.

Storyteller, musician, folklorist, and author Joseph Sobol – who has recently accepted the post of Director of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at USW – will also be speaking.

Welsh storyteller Daniel Morden will present a preview of a major new work, Stolen, which was inspired by his experiences following treatment for cancer of the jaw, and people he met during his residency in ABMU’s cancer services. The work is a collaboration with musicians Oliver Wilson-Dickson and Sarah Moody.

Storytelling for Health began as an idea put forward by ABMU arts in health co-ordinator Prue Thimbleby while Swansea was bidding to become 2017 City of Culture.

Prue said: “Although we didn’t get City of Culture, some of the ideas had built up so much momentum they carried on. This was one of them. That’s where the seed of the idea started and it has grown from there.”

The conference sessions will include a focus on storytelling in mental health, maternity, end of life, clinical training and much more. There will be a wide range of performances, workshops and interactive presentations.

Prue added: “I’m passionate about the power of storytelling. Our aim is to acknowledge and celebrate the importance and growth of storytelling for health and to understand and promote good practice and new research.”

Dr Underwood-Lee said she was delighted to be able to work with ABMU on the conference.

 “The event has grown beyond all our expectations, and we have delegates from across the globe attending,” she said.

“This shows the importance of storytelling, and how it can impact on people’s everyday lives.”

Tickets are still available for events at the conference. Full details are available at http://www.artsinhealth.wales/conference.html

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