To tackle homelessness we have to listen – listen to those who have experience of rough sleeping, living in slums, or being a refugee. One of the best ways to achieve this is to tell a story: a story of homelessness, or of a homelessness project, or of a volunteer.

Oscar Romero famously encouraged us to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’.

Five Top Tips on Writing a Case Story

Here are five tips on how to be that voice and engage your reader in your writing:

The Scene
You need to be engaging, and that means taking your reader to where you are. You need to set the scene:

  • what can you see?
  • what are the sounds
  • what are the smells?
Details Matter
Small details are what captures the reader’s imagination. Don’t just summarise – drop in some small details to engage your reader.
For example,

  • what is someone wearing?
  • what is the weather like?
  • what day is it?
The Personal Picture

If you are writing about a person, it is best to get direct quotations from them. Write down what they actually say, and write how they actually say it. Obtain some information about their life – where have they come from, what are their likes/dislikes, what are their aspirations? This will connect the reader to the individual.

The Big Picture

Connect the personal stories you tell with the big picture.
For example,

  • How widespread is homelessness in the area you write about?
  • How many people does the project you write about help each day?

This means the reader can understand the scale of the issues you describe.

Photographs

A picture can tell a thousand words! Good quality photographs are really important to complement any story you write. Try and use a camera but a smartphone is also OK! When taking the photo, are people are looking at the camera? Make sure to take lots of photographs so you can pick from the best, and take them from different angles. And when you send them to us – make sure you select the size over 1mb, otherwise, they will be grainy.

Check out some of the stories we have already uploaded to our website, to get an idea of how you can write your story. And ask us any questions you may have if you want any help! Good luck!

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