I am a storyteller. Eldest of five children, I told stories to keep my younger brother and sisters occupied and out of trouble. Then I trained as a psychiatric social worker and used the concepts of storytelling and story-making in therapeutic work as a counsellor, family therapist and group-worker.
Since 2000 I have been working as a professional storyteller with children and adults in different settings – museums, schools, hospitals and community projects, and relating the work to the National Curriculum, promoting diversity and emotional literacy and active audience participation and involvement.
I have a MA in Children’s Literature where I focused my work on the impact of traditional folk tales on children’s literature. My dissertation was on how mental illness is reflected in children’s literature. I have an article on this, titled, “Into the Snake Pit, and out again,” on the Book Trust Education Website (click here to access article).
I tell stories from different settings and cultures – traditional, personal, and original stories, and plan the programmes to enable the target audience to both enjoy and be challenged by the stories. When I tell stories I aim to promote and develop the emotional literacy of the listener: to enable them to empathise with the characters in the stories and the emotions that they experience, and then relate that experience to their own lives.
I run workshops to enable people to learn how to learn stories, and then how to tell them. I work with both creating stories and retelling personal stories. I work with children and adults from 6 to 106 and aim to work inclusively with people of different abilities and experiences, and have extensive experience working with storytelling with children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
I lead a special interest group for the Society for Storytelling in “Storytelling in Health and Therapy settings”. I have experience of working with children and adults with multiple and profound physical and learning disabilities.
I have been CRB checked and have my certificate. I have professional insurance, and I am registered as self employed.
Janet Meets Her Majesty The Queen
Janet Dowling attended a reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty The Queen on 18th March 2015. Her Majesty The Queen is patron of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, and hosted the event to mark its 50th anniversary as Sir Winston’s living legacy.
Janet was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2006, and travelled to the US and Canada to investigate Storytelling in the care of the dying and bereaved. Since then she has worked as a bereavement volunteer, and has run numerous workshops for Cruse and other bereavement organisations both in the UK and abroad, on the use of storytelling in the care of the dying and the bereaved.
She has written several articles on her work, and has been regularly asked to run workshops at conferences, including the Cruse annual conference. Her current performance set as an oral Storyteller is Hold Up, Death which has been performed around the UK. It brings together stories from around the world about Death, and presents them in a new light.
She says The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust gave me the opportunity to visit numerous projects in The US and Canada where storytelling was used in different ways to support bereaved people. It was an exciting experience, and enabled me to see how the work could be developed and applied with the dying and the bereaved, and with other groups of people who needed help to manage their feelings about their situation. This has been invaluable in my bereavement support work with children and adults. Meeting the Queen is an important recognition of that work.
Fellows from every decade since 1965 represented the Trust at the reception, as well as representatives from The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust in Australia, and the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. Since 1965, over 5000 British citizens have been awarded Churchill Fellowships, from over 100,000 applicants, to travel overseas to study areas of topical and personal interest. To mark its semi-centennial, The Trust has just awarded a record number of 150 Travelling Fellowships. This year’s Fellows will travel to 58 countries between them, across six continents, where they will carry out a wide range of projects. The average length of a Fellowship is 6 weeks.