Stories not Statistics

You know me I like stories. I promote storytelling; particularly Digital Storytelling.

I am constantly being told that evidence is what matters. That you cannot tell stories without evidence. Well, that may be true…. but….

Most people would agree that social housing and the people who live in it have been unfairly stigmatised. Despite all the efforts to get social housing to be a key issue in the 2015 General Election, whenever the subject of housing is raised, the politicians end up arguing over which party does most to promote home ownership. It’s like Mrs. Thatcher’s oft quoted view that anyone over 30 who uses a bus is a failure. She also changed the paradigm so that society’s prevailing view is that anyone who doesn’t own their own home is a failure, or at least that is what everyone should be aspiring to.

And so, social housing tenants are stigmatised, and the media pile in reinforcing this stereotype by pumping out poverty porn like “Benefits Street”, “How to Get a Council House”, “Skint”, and “Immigration Street”.  And still, people tell me that he only way to counter this view is by producing evidence to the contrary. And the evidence they want to produce comes in the form of reports, statistics and infographics.

But, stop to think for a moment. Where is the evidence that backs up the viewpoint promoted by the purveyors of poverty porn? It’s not there. They go out, they find a story they want to tell, and they tell that story, whatever the evidence might suggest. And they are the ones whose world view prevails. The public is not interested in evidence. If they were, news channels would have larger viewing figures than soap operas.

So, please; by all means produce your reports, your statistics, and your infographics. But don’t kid yourself that any of this wins hearts and minds. It’s the stories of people living happy and productive lives in social housing that will be much more persuasive.

One thought on “Stories not Statistics

  1. I keep telling the ‘digitalbritain’ people the same thing. They are always quoting bloody statistics about ‘homes passed’ and yet millions can’t get a fit for purpose connection. The forums are full of people moaning about their substandard internet access, yet the snake oil salesman with his dossier of stats convinces the powers that be that we all have superfast. Its a superfarce. What the civil servants fail to remember is that they work for us. And we pay their wages. And the feckless politicians would do well to remember that too. And stop listening to those ‘advisors’ working for their pensions without caring about doing a good job. We need a fair wage, a roof available to shelter us, whether its our own or social housing or whatever, and digital access, because that will bring future prosperity to a country that has lost its mines, its factories and will soon lose its food production.

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