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Institute for Social Justice

Suitcase Stories

Exploring climate adaptation through participatory storytelling with young people.

School students telling stories using objects inside suitcases

Suitcase Stories is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded public engagement project that used storytelling to explore climate adaptation with young people.

When we talk about climate change and its impacts, we often focus – rightly – on how to prevent it. However just as important, given that the consequences of climate change are already affecting many communities (particularly in the Global South), is learning how to adapt to it. Young people can expect to see dramatic upheavals in their lifetime in terms of food and water supply, health, the economy, migration, and work.

It is vital that everybody is involved in responding to the climate crisis, so that the solutions developed are democratic and equitable. The more knowledge that people have, the more they are able to combat eco-anxiety in a resilient and compassionate manner. This was the thinking behind 'Suitcase Stories', funded by NERC as part of the 'Creative Climate Connections' programme.

In 2022, young people in Batley and Leeds worked with storytellers and researchers from York St John University, a climate journalist and (via remote technology) young people from Nigeria. The young people used what they learnt to create short stories that could pack into suitcases and communicated how people are already experiencing the effects of climate change and what we can learn from how they are adapting.

The short film below takes you on the journey of our project with additional resources and documentation below. You can also download teachers’ resource packs for young people aged 7 to 11 and 11 plus.

Resource pack for ages 7 to 11 (PDF, 2.1MB)

Resource pack for ages 11 plus (PDF, 1.5MB)

About Suitcase Stories

Project resources

Pile of old suitcases with Batley sticker on the front

The stories

School students holding up props from the Suitcase Story for Japan

Our insights

Open suitcase with blue lining filled with objects to tell the Arctic story

Project evaluation

Project conducted by Olalekan Adekola, Catherine Heinemeyer, Natalie Quatermass, Matthew Reason and Natalie Wood.

Films by Dermot Daly.

Funding from Natural Environment Research Council as part of the 'Creative Climate Connections' programme. Thanks to Mothers of Invention, Students Organising for Sustainability and Batley Girls' High School.

Suitcase Stories logo and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) logo