Every Story Matters – your opportunity to be heard in the Covid-19 Inquiry
Every Story Matters is the Inquiry’s way of doing so, enabling those in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to share their experiences of the pandemic with the Inquiry, via an online form. To date, around 6,000 people have shared their stories. The Inquiry team will continue to travel around the UK to hear these first-hand.
Baroness Heather Hallet, the Inquiry Chair, recently published a comprehensive update to set out how Every Story Matters works in practice. Following a roundtable held in 2022, it became clear that organisations felt the design and delivery of Every Story Matters provided them with the opportunity to:
- Contribute in multiple ways to the Inquiry;
- Meet people in the same position as themselves;
- Recognise trauma;
- Be offered support offline and online; and
- Provide clarification on the purpose and method of listening.
On 23 March 2023, the Inquiry held the first ‘listening exercise’. This saw 9 different organisations, from the Department of Health and Social Care to the Welsh Government, attend to ask questions and discuss issues. The transcript provides an insight into the content, structure, and objective of the public hearings which began on 13 June.
The listening exercises that will be carried out through Every Story Matters provides an option for those who have not obtained Core Participant status to become involved in the Inquiry. As discussed in our previous articles relating to the start of the Preliminary Hearings and applications for Module 3, there are a number of ways to become involved in the Inquiry. Every Story Matters provides the option to get involved in the Inquiry as either an individual, single organisation, or a group of organisations from similar sectors. It remains the Chair’s intention to treat Every Story Matters as part of the body of evidence to assist her deliberations within the Inquiry process. Every Story Matters therefore holds an established and valuable place within the Inquiry and towards the conclusions to be drawn. As a result, we are likely to see a diverse range of evidence being contributed from the public and other organisations.
While concerns have been raised as to the ways in which the Chair will ensure proportionality where there are competing interests across different organisations who want their voices to be heard, the Inquiry team have emphasised the importance of grouping organisations to ensure all relevant voices are represented where appropriate.
Every experience shared through Every Story Matters will be analysed and filtered into themed reports. From identifying themes and trends to raising issues of which the Inquiry was not previously aware, Every Story Matters is intended to assist the Inquiry in identifying systemic failures. Further to this, Every Story Matters will be considered within the Inquiry’s investigations from Module 3 onwards, which will examine the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s healthcare systems.
As a result of the open approach to involvement within the Inquiry offered through Every Story Matters, and with the recent announcement of Modules 4, 5 and 6, it is likely that the Inquiry will see a rise in interest from new sectors and organisations, as well as individuals.
With more elements of Every Story Matters due to be launched during the first public hearings, it will be of great interest to any individual or business to decide whether and if so they wish or ought to be involved in the Inquiry.
Shoosmiths will continue to provide regular updates on our Covid-19 Inquiry Hub which contains previous articles, webinars and podcasts.
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