Oral history has been a long neglected pathway to truth. To yet-unknown parts of history, found only by taking the time to seek out and talk to individuals who saw it happen. Our oral history project Women Listening to Women, was launched in 2021 to uncover the hidden histories of Self Injury Support (formerly Bristol Crisis Service for Women), through interviewing staff and volunteers who have been part of the service for the past 30 years. Not only is self-injury still a stigmatised topic (try as we might to shift this stigma), but the experiences of women are still often undermined. 

We learned so much from these histories, shared with us by women who told us how transformative their experience was, volunteering for the service. Women whose lives were altered by their being here. Many went on to train as therapists or go into social work, or changing policy around women’s issues. The hours of interviews gathered by volunteers were turned into a podcast, Gentle Activism, that can be found here or on Spotify. 

We are thrilled to announce that the podcast has been shortlisted for the Community Radio Awards, which “recognise all the great work that Community Radio does in their local communities, entertaining, informing, and engaging listeners. All this hard work is being done by minimal staff and quite often lots of volunteers.” It feels great to have this piece of work acknowledged, and is testament to the hard work of everybody who has been part of Self Injury Support over the years. Without the will of the women who continue to make Self Injury Support what it is, many of us would be worse off. 

I am reminded of Margaret Mead’s great phrase: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Regardless of the decisions made in Government, we will be here to support the women and girls who need us. If you want to join us as a volunteer and continue this important work, you would be so welcome! Just follow this link for more information.