I did things I wouldn’t do now - Rachel Erskine, ethical storytelling expert

Mar 21, 09:24 PM

Rachel Erskine, an ethical storytelling expert who works for Amref Health Africa in the UK, shares her thoughts on how aid agencies and NGOs can make amends for the harm past approaches to storytelling may have caused to communities.

In episode 3, we meet Rachel Erskine, an NGO story gatherer whose work has taken her to everywhere from Afghanistan to Myanmar. Rachel is co-chair of People in the Pictures – a UK-based group which is trying to encourage NGOs to give more thought to the way they represent the people they work with in their storytelling. The group was set up in response to research published by Save the Children in 2017 which asked the people who featured in their photographs about both their experience and their perception of the images. 

Rachel also manages communications at the UK office of Africa’s leading health NGO, Amref Health Africa – an organisation which has a policy of only hiring in-country photographers to document its work and which recently carried out an in-depth review of its process for gathering consent from contributors. In this thought-provoking interview, we chat about the 2019 row over the sharing of an image of a Ugandan child by British journalist Stacey Dooley; about the mental health needs of humanitarian content gatherers; and Rachel’s top tips on how NGOs can be more ethical in their storytelling.

Resources mentioned in this episode include:

The People in the Pictures group’s Ethical guidelines for the collection and use of content

The People in the Pictures group’s webinar on Race and Representation