OpenStoryTellers is a community arts charity supporting people with learning disabilities.
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:
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.
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 - Fundraising & Finance Director
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.
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.
Kathryn (Kat) - Lead creative facilitator
Kat joined us in Nov 2022- she works on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Fuller details are on their way... watch this space!
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 joined Openstorytellers as a freelance dramaturge and director for our Peter The Wild Boy project.... and he stayed!
He is an illustrator, theatre-maker and performer.
He lives in Frome with his family and LOVES boardgaming.
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.
Ruth - Lead creative facilitator
Ruth joined us in Oct 2022. She works Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Fuller info will follow - watch this space!
Our fabulous freelancers and brilliant bank staff
Becky - wellbeing
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 - Sensory book clubs
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.
Cate - Lead creative facilitator (Bank)
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'.
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.
Ben has led a high-performing team of trusts and philanthropic fundraisers at Barnardo’s, is responsible for managing the social investment streams at Somerset Community Foundation and brings with him a wealth of innovative project and relationship management experience.
Ben volunteers as a Visitor for the Henry Smith Charity and plays an active role in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He is seeking to cultivate an atmosphere of psychological safety for all.
Lesley - our valiant volunteer!
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:
Angie - creative facilitator (bank)
Angie has lived and taught in international schools around the world for most of her career. She moved to Frome in 2018 and is began volunteering with us before taking on a range of short term projects and bank work.
Joanna - creative facilitator (bank)
Joanna's story is to follow - watch this space!
Claire's story is on it's way - stay tuned!
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 is currently top secret...we don't yet have her bio!
How it all began!
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.