OpenStoryTellers is a community arts charity supporting people with learning disabilities and autism.
We help people to find their voice and use it.
Because stories are what make us human.
We started out in 2004, when Speech Therapist Dr. Nicola Grove found that supporting people with learning disabilities to share stories helped build relationships and challenge exclusion. We became a charity in 2009 and have been growing a lot since then!
Meet The Team
Our Epic Employees:
Cate - Lead Facilitator
Cate has had a variety of roles within social care in the last 30+ years - working in residential & supported living, managing day service provisions, independent advocacy, within the social work team in Mendip and as a personal assistant for specific work such as 'relationships & social situations' and 'preparation for work'. She is enjoying her new role at OST.
Clemma - Peer Assistant
Clemma has been a member of OST for around 12 years. As well as being an amazing Storyteller and Poet, she also now works at OST as a Peer Assistant. She helps new people feel at ease when they join the group.
Emma W - Charity Manager
Emma joined OST in 2010 and plays a very important role 'behind the scenes'. She comes from a commercial background. Having worked as a regional manager has broad experience of HR, health & safety and financial management. Emma has also volunteered, fundraised and campaigned for many charities.
Alex - Director
Alex has 25 years experience within adult social care, as a support worker, home manager, trainer and consultant. Specialising in innovation, change and a rights based approach to support. Alex lives in Frome with her wife, her dogs and occasional grown up son.
Ben - Lead Facilitator
Ben has worked with children and young people with learning disabilities for many years as a Learning Support Assistant, and more recently at the National Open Youth Orchestra. He also runs Loops Music Project, making music accessible and running an inclusive disco night. He plays a wide range of instruments from banjo to autoharp!
Charlotte - Social Enterprise Manager
Charlotte started out working in community arts and theatre. She qualified as a Youth and Community Worker at Reading University. She has worked for many years with children, adults and families of people with learning disabilities. She taught Storytelling, Drama and Employability at Somerset Skills & Learning for 7 years. She joined OST in 2014.
Emma L-W - Employment Support Advisor
Emma has been working in health and social care since 2007, also working in other countries.
Emma has worked with people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health and dementia. She enjoys drawing and painting, wild swimming and loves being in the garden growing her own produce.
Jade - Communications & Community Fundraising Manager
Jade has worked with people with learning disabilities since 2007 in various charities and arts projects. She studied the arts and has an MA in Participatory & Community Arts. She also runs The Handloom Room selling unique products made by craftspeople with disabilities. Jade joined OST in 2016.
Leah - Lead Facilitator
Leah has a broad experience as a Learning Support Assistant and a Support Worker for children and young people with learning disabilities. She is competent in basic British Sign Language. She used to teach baby signing to help parents aid communication with their children.
Simon - Artistic Director
Simon is currently top secret...as we don't yet have his bio!
Tracey - Peer Assistant
Tracey has been a member of OST for many years. She now works as a Peer Assistant at Get Connected. She is very organised and has a fantastic eye for detail.
Our Fabulous Freelancers
Becky - Lead Facilitator
Becky has 20 years experience teaching young adults with learning disabilities within college settings and is passionate about how the Performing Arts can be a vehicle for all aspects of curriculum. Becky started working for OST in 2015 leading Sensory Book clubs, she currently runs the Wellbeing group. Becky is a Yoga teacher specialising in inclusive Yoga and is training as a Yoga Therapist.
Jane - Lead Facilitator
Jane has been with OST from the very beginning, using personal narrative, story and music to support communication. Jane led the Storysharing in schools and social care settings projects and now runs the Sensory Book Clubs.
Jem - Lead Facilitator
Jem started performing in theatre in the 60's and as a musician from the 70's. He's been a professional storyteller for 20 years, weaving his stories with music. He has worked with people with learning disabilities for 30 years and has qualifications in counselling, creative therapy and education.
Our Valiant Volunteers:
Bill Palmer - Vice Chair
Bill is Director of the School for Experiential Education with branches in the UK and Spain. He developed a physical therapy approach to chronic illness that focuses on ability and not problems. He teaches postgraduate courses on this approach across the globe. He also co-founded Elderventure and Fair Housing for Frome CIC.
Jane started out as a teacher of children with learning disabilities. After having 3 daughters she moved to the west country and began the slow and careful path to becoming a professional storyteller. As well as working with traditional stories since 1994, she has been involved in many community projects supporting people who are disenfranchised. She is delighted to bring this skill set to the OST team.
Juliet was a teacher for many years, from primary to university level, she has also authored three books. She has been a councillor, a trustee and now sits on the central body of a charity called Music Camp Limited as well as being trustee for OST.
Having lived and taught in international schools around the world for most of her career, Angie moved to Frome in 2018 and is delighted to volunteer at OST.
Lesley is a retired librarian and a keen amateur storyteller at several local story circles. Originally from the North East, she's lived in Frome for over 30 years. A long-time friend of OST, she has been volunteering with us since 2017. She enjoys the supportive atmosphere and wide variety of tasks within the groups.
Our Trusty Trustees:
Ruth worked in education for over 40 years in a variety of secondary schools. She became Deputy Head in Tower Hamlets, line managing the special needs department. She was also the Child Protection Lead. Her MA was in Emotional Factors in Learning and Teaching, at the Tavistock Clinic. A major interest in her life has been telling and sharing stories.
Sarah Talbot - Williams
Sarah has been a senior leader in the voluntary sector for 20+ years, working as Chief Executive of a number of disability and health organisations. She now runs her own charity consultancy in strategic and governance review and advice. She is an Independent Lay Member for patient engagement for an NHS CCG. She is Vice Chair and Trustee for three other charities as well as OST.
Judith Beresford - Treasurer
Judith is currently top secret...we don't yet have her bio!
Dr. Nicola Grove
Founder of OpenStoryTellers
Nicola founded OST with colleagues as a follow-on from a National Lottery funded project. She spent many years as a Speech & Language Therapist and is now a storyteller, researcher and trainer. She has authored several books and papers on narrative and disability. She is Honourary Senior Lecturer at the Tizard Centre, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists.