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Social work & digital stories: helping people ‘see beyond the disability’


So yesterday I flagged up Louis Theroux’s documentary on autism. The programme, available on iPlayer, is a powerful use of video by a journalist to explore the issue. But what about the potential for clients and social workers to tell their own stories, and the issues affecting them, directly through film?

Today I was sent a link to an excellent digital stories project by IRISS, where Liam, a 20 year old with autism, has created a video CV to tell his story, highlight his passion for film, and his aspirations for a career in theatre. In the film Liam talks about his scriptwriting and storyboarding, his work for Scottish Youth Theatre, and also demonstrates his acting skills.

The project also includes separate interviews with Liam’s family and, David Lettice, his social worker. David’s interview is particularly worth watching for social workers, as he talks about the power of digital storytelling for Liam and how these kind of projects fit with the personalisation agenda in social care.

In the interview David says:

‘At this point in time we have a whole agenda within social work which is about personalising social work services – and what is more personal than supporting Liam to do what he wants to do, rather than just fit him into the services that exist?  So I see the work we have done with Liam very much in line with the whole personalisation agenda, which is prevalent in Social Work at this time. ‘

He adds: ‘I mean a person with a disability on paper I don’t think necessarily comes across very well, because what people will see is their disability, whereas done as a video, people will quite clearly see that Liam has all sorts of skills and abilities which could be useful and could be used, and needs to be allowed to flourish.’

Liam Robertson from iriss on Vimeo.

For another great example of the power of digital stories, it’s worth checking out Mind Cymru’s project where people with mental health conditions have made a series of films.

About Andy McNicoll

Andy is community editor at Community Care, with a focus on reporting on mental health. He has previously worked for titles focusing on the NHS and substance misuse sectors. You can contact him at

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