How can we change things for the better through listening?

The Verbatim Formula was initially developed to rethink the way we listen to  young people in the Care System in the UK. It is a collaborative method that involves policy-makers, artists, social workers, foster carers and, most of all, those who have spent time in the system. Young people in care, and older people who have experienced being in care are brought to centre stage to have their voices heard.

Introduced by an academic team based at Queen Mary University of London and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, the TVF methodology facilitates these conversations by recording and anonymously sharing the voices and experiences of these young people. They can talk freely about their lives, from the the most difficult to the most loving and rewarding experiences, and in doing so develop their sense of confidence and security.

The method provides a creative and non-judgemental space for young people to share their life experience as evaluators of the services that are responsible for their education, care and wellbeing.

By listening to these testimonies, using Verbatim Theatre technique,  professionals, responsible for these vulnerable people, can understand them better and ultimately use their power to improve policies and change the system for better.

Please watch the video-animation below to get to know how it works:

The project is committed to supporting young people from the most disadvantaged of backgrounds and helping them fulfil their potential. So far, TVF has collaborated with over 100 young people in UK Local Authorities. It has also proved to be adaptable to different settings and environments, as it was well received by the Scottish Parliament, UK Office for Students, UK Department for Education, Greater London Authority and  a number of universities and Boroughs in London.

“The practice we use invites [the adults] not to only engage cognitively and think, yes, it is tough and care must be really awful, not to just be sympathetic but it opens channels of empathy.” Dr Sylvan Baker, Lecturer in Applied Theatre, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

The participatory arts research project empowers young people and makes their voices heard, using verbatim theatre and other creative methodologies.

“ For adults it is an opportunity to understand more clearly just how complex and difficult those situations can be and therefore to be able to change their working practices in ways that are going to be helpful and supportive to these young people.” Dr Maggie Inchley, Senior Lecturer in Performance , Queen Mary University of London

Since its inception in 2015, as a collaboration with People’s Palace Projects, the project has been funded through QMUL Access funds, and has also received funding from commissions from Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth Local Authorities. In 2017 it gained a three-year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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Creative Direction and Animation : Koff Animation (

Script: The Verbatim Formula Team

Voice Over: Alan Francis and Hussina Raja

The Verbatim Formula lead researchers: Dr Maggie Inchley, Dr Sylvan Baker and Dr Sadhvi Dar

Research Assistant: Darcey Williamson

Project Manager: Renata Peppl (People’s Palace Projects)

Creative Evaluation: Mita Pujara

Safeguarding Leader: Rosie Hunter (People’s Palace Projects)

The Verbatim Formula is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and led by Queen Mary University of London and People’s Palace Projects with the support of the CLICK (Children Living in Care Council) at Wandsworth Borough, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Greater London Authority (Peer Outreach Team), Battersea Arts Centre, University of East London, University of Greenwich and Goldsmiths University