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The inspiring stories of Manchester people who turned tragedy to triumph

Join us on an inspiring journey of resilience and recovery, and discover how real-life heroes triumph over adversity in Rise: Stories of Healing & Hope, a new exhibition in St Anne's Square.

In a world often shrouded by uncertainty, stories of resilience and recovery become a guiding light in the darkest of times.

And Heard Storytelling, along with Nuffield Health and Manchester MIHP have come together to share some inspiring stories from around the city.

They have set up a captivating audio-visual exhibition that unveils the remarkable journeys of individuals who have risen above life-altering challenges.

Presented in a week-long showcase in the heart of Manchester’s St Ann’s Square, this exhibition is a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

This extraordinary event, created by the Manchester-based spoken stories company, Heard Storytelling, offers an intimate glimpse into the victories and trials faced by nine individuals who have overcome adversity, thanks to the support of the Manchester Institute of Health & Performance (MIHP).

From Susan’s quest to find her way home, away from the ‘Covid clouded atmosphere’ of the hospital, to Kieran’s determination to break free from pain medication after a life-changing accident, these stories are beacons of hope and strength.

Andrea’s resilience in facing COVID-19 eight times and Julia’s courage in finding solace in the little moments will leave you inspired and uplifted.

We sat down with the different people participating in this intriguing exhibition, to talk about why people should come and see it.

Titled “Voices of Hope and Healing,” this showcase features individuals who have encountered life-altering challenges and discovered solace, support, and hope through the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance (MIHP) and Nuffield Health.

Paul’s Journey: Triumph Over Adversity

(Left to Right) Paul, Caroline and Dr Davina

Paul, a survivor of the Manchester Arena bombing, shares his remarkable journey of resilience and recovery, attributing much of his progress to the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance (MIHP).

Paul sustained several injuries including severe burns, broken bones, loss of hearing and embedded shrapnel, which remain in his groin, pelvis and back.

He poignantly states, “It saved my life. It definitely put me on a better pathway.”

He spent just over eight months in hospital and has required 55 different operations, with more needed in the future.

Paul defied expectations, learning to walk again against all odds after accessing MIHP’s state-of-the-art facilities.

Despite all he has lost, he remains steadfast in his determination to succeed and hopefully inspire other people who have lived through trauma.

“The MIHP is an incredible facility. My injuries were life-changing – they said I’d never walk unaided again. When I first entered MIHP I was in a wheelchair – with their help I’m back up and on my feet.”

His story stands as a testament to the life-changing support available through MIHP, accessible to trauma survivors via the NHS and Nuffield Health.

Davina’s Vision: Bridging Gaps in Community Healthcare

Dr Davina, the Medical Director for Nuffield Health and Charity Director, discusses Nuffield Health’s commitment to inclusive healthcare.

She said: “We’ve got all of these amazing resources, but it’s a shame that they were behind closed doors.

“Nuffield Health is the largest healthcare charity in the UK, and we serve as the operational partner for the Manchester Institute of Health Performance.

“When we visited the facility, we noticed that it was specifically designed for elite sports and intended to support national athletes.

“It boasts world-class facilities, including diagnostic sports medicine services, and possesses a wealth of resources and expertise that caught our attention.

“We decided to open the doors, and our internal motto is “street to elite” and “elite to street” because they serve as mutual role models.

“Ultimately, these individuals are human beings with their unique life journeys.

“Our aim is to connect them.

“We offer a variety of services, and importantly, all of them are accessible to participants free of charge.

“We have a partnership with an NHS Trust for major trauma care, as well as community rehabilitation for individuals living with chronic conditions.

“Additionally, we collaborate with local charities to make sports more accessible to disadvantaged youths, and we provide leadership programs for them as well.”

Nuffield Health’s partnership with MIHP opens doors to world-class facilities for the Greater Manchester community, breaking down barriers and providing free access to essential services.

Davina’s vision revolves around creating a sense of community and offering hope to those who often feel isolated and unsupported.

Caroline’s Creative Touch: The Birth of “Voices of Hope and Healing”

Caroline, one of the co-directors of Heard Storytelling, sheds light on the exhibition’s inception.

She emphasised the importance of sharing stories of healing and hope, particularly those forged through connections made at MIHP and Nuffield Health.

Caroline’s storytelling company celebrates untold stories and fosters deeper community connections.

She affirms, “We exist to celebrate untold, unheard stories and create deeper connections within communities.

“MIHP and Nuffield Health reached out to us with the proposition originally.

“They had a treasure trove of inspiring stories from individuals who had benefited from their programs, and they were eager to celebrate and share these narratives.

“That’s where Heard Storytelling came into the picture.”

The “Voices of Hope and Healing” exhibition not only showcases these inspiring stories at St. Anne’s Square but also offers online accessibility through the Nuffield Health website.

Heard Storytelling also collaborated with MIHP, running sessions with people at the facility.

Caroline elaborated: “Our process involved both group workshops, where participants learned how to share their stories effectively, and one-on-one sessions to refine their narratives.

“We recorded each of these stories, and now we find ourselves here in St. Anne’s Square, where everyone can listen to them.

“Importantly, all these stories are also accessible on the Nuffield website, ensuring that those at home or unable to visit St. Anne’s Square can still connect and listen to them.”

As for Heard’s broader community initiatives, our next exhibition is set to launch on the 10th at Arndale. It will revolve around the stories of individuals who have experienced homelessness, furthering our commitment to sharing impactful narratives within our community.

You can check out the great stories by clicking here.

By sharing these narratives, the exhibition aims to extend a lifeline to those in need, demonstrating that hope and support are ever within reach.

Furthermore, Heard Storytelling’s dedication to community storytelling continues with its forthcoming exhibition at the Arndale, centring on stories of individuals who have experienced homelessness.

Sarah’s Story: Advocating for Disability Inclusion


Sarah, a storyteller and Senior Development Manager at Access Sport, passionately recounts her brother’s journey as a young person with a disability who tragically passed away last year.

She speaks of the struggles faced by many UK families, highlighting the need for support, especially in the post-pandemic era.

Sarah emphasises Access Sport’s mission in partnership with MIHP and Nuffield Health: “We give them opportunities that they deserve, regardless of what they’ve been born into or what responsibilities they have.

“Every child should have the opportunity to be free and explore.”

Access Sport is a national charity formed in 2004.

They believe that no one should be excluded from the transformational benefits of community sports.

They help out and train, equip and support community sports clubs, organisations and volunteers to provide inclusive programmes, unleashing their potential to transform the lives of underserved young people in their local communities.

These narratives, much like those in “Voices of Hope and Healing,” revolve around themes of hope, connection, and resilience.

As these stories resonate deeply with the Manchester community and beyond, they serve as a powerful reminder of the indomitable human spirit and the transformative power of hope and healing in the face of adversity.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

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