Storying Sexual Relationships: the Stories and Practices of Young British Pakistani Muslims

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

The project asks how young British Muslims, particularly those with Pakistani heritage, talk and think about their personal relationships. Particular attention will be paid to sexual relationships, and to relationships issues that may be specific to these groups, which may be linked to culture or religion. The research explores the role of stories and storytelling in relationships. It focuses on relationship stories that are told in everyday life (with friends, for example) and also in art forms such as poetry, fiction, films and radio. It investigates existing stories and also involves participants in making and sharing new stories. This attention to 'ordinary' relationships will complement current attention, including some urgent and important research, and some less helpful, sensational media stories and political interventions, directed at cases of sexual abuse (by British Pakistani men) and forced marriage (of young British Pakistani women and men).

The study will reflect some of the diversity of British Pakistani Muslims, in terms of linguistic, ethnic, religious, class and educational backgrounds, which map onto differences in sexual relationship practices. Research will take place in three areas: Yorkshire, Glasgow, and Tyne and Wear. We will work with community organisations which support young British Pakistani Muslim men and women in their sexual lives and relationships, such as community youth helplines, introduction agencies, and marriage counselling and advice services.

This is a three-year project involving a number of different individuals and organizations, most of whom will be involved at particular stages and times, rather than throughout. The research team will conduct interviews with young British Pakistani Muslim men and women to explore ways in which relationship experiences often reflect cultural and religious expectations, precedents and norms. These interviews will also explore stories could be told that aren't; what difficult issues could be tackled and explored in this way; what positive practices and experiences could be articulated and shared; and what may be best left unsaid.

We will then hold some reading gupshops (a term combining 'workshops' and 'gupshup', the Urdu word for informal chat) to explore what people know and feel about stories that are already being told and shared about sexual relationship practices involving British Pakistani Muslims. Next, storytelling workshops will be used to develop new relationship stories through creative writing (fiction and autobiography) or documentary (film and radio). These will be led by writers or documentary makers who are themselves British Muslims. Subsequently, in-depth interviews with workshop participants will reflect on experiences of participating in the project. Those who are happy to have their work published or otherwise disseminated to a wider public (for example, at the Bradford Literature Festival, and through the internet) will be encouraged to do so, and supported in doing so.

Planned Impact

Co-production is central to this research project. Accordingly, pathways to impact are embedded in the research design, and there is significant overlap between participants, stakeholders and other beneficiaries. The impact plan addresses two questions:

I. Who will benefit?

This project has potential for impact through 3 overlapping groups: research participants, stakeholders and the wider public:

1. Participants include individual young BPM, creative practitioners, and two types of organisations: those that support young BPM in relation to their sexual relationship practices and choices, and others with broader interests in social inclusion and community relations.

2. Some of the organisations referred to above will also be engaged as stakeholders. Other stakeholders include wider BPM communities in the UK, and organisations that seek to support them. Stakeholder groups are an integral to the project, enabling the research to optimize beneficial impacts for these organisations and the communities and individuals they represent and support.

3. This research also stands to benefit the wider public through greater understanding of BPM sexual attitudes and practices, which may contribute to improved community relations.

II. How will they benefit?

Those identified above will benefit from involvement in the research process and through the dissemination of findings in the following ways:

-Individual participants in interviews, storytelling workshops and reading gupshops will see immediate and ongoing benefit from engagement with and involvement in the research. They may become more reflective about their sexual relationship attitudes and practices, and better able to negotiate and represent these within their families and communities.

-Creative practitioners who participate in workshops will benefit from having their work disseminated to community and wider audiences, and will gain experience from working together and with the team.

-Individuals who participate as community interviewers will benefit through the acquisition of skills and experiences, which they may transfer to other settings. Capacity-building workshops will reinforce and build upon the skills training and experiences gained through the project itself.

-Organisations that participate in this research will benefit through access to resources that they can use in their work with young BPM. This will be realised through the production, dissemination and discussion of relationship stories.

-Through stakeholder workshops, various community groups with a variety of interests (health, education, cultural, social inclusion) will be engaged with research findings and research methodologies, and will develop understandings of how to use these within their organisational practices.

-It is anticipated that the research findings will inform local government organisations and government agencies and improve their engagement with BPM communities and community organizations.

-Wider BPM communities will also benefit in 2 ways. First, this project will open up, if not a singular debate, then a series of much-needed small conversations about sexuality and sexual relationships. This will enable BPM communities as a whole to become more reflective and better able to represent views on sexual relationships and practices, with an improved ability to challenge negative stereotypes and cultural racism. Second, as this project gives voice to ordinary rather than sensational sexual relationships among BPM communities, and as stereotypes about these communities are therefore countered, these communities stand to benefit from better relations and clearer understandings in relation to the majority society.

-The public will also benefit from improved understandings of BPM communities through the project's engagement with artists, creative practitioners and media, and public events.
 
Title A Match Made in Heaven 
Description A Match Made in Heaven, Edited by Claire Chambers, Nafhesa Ali and Richard Phillips. Anthology of writing by participants in creative writing workshops, convened within the Storying Sexual Relationships project. These previously unpublished writers join some established young British Muslim writers in this collection, published by HopeRoad, which describes the collection as follows on its website: Although outsiders often expect Muslim women to be timid, conservative, or submissive, the reality is different. While some of these authors express a quiet piety and explore poignant situations, others use black humour and biting satire, or play with possibilities. Still others shade into the territory of a Muslim Fifty Shades of Grey, creating grey areas where the mainstream media sees only black and white. If grooming-gang scandals grab headlines, characters are more scandalized by suitors' sloppy personal grooming. Finding the right crimson lipstick for a date or the perfect power outfit for meeting a cheating ex-husband are commoner preoccupations than the news. Stylish but far from shallow, the stories also reflect on migration, racism, arranged marriage, gender differences, lesbian desire, bearding, and many other subjects. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Instrumental in young British Muslim women finding their voices and developing their skills as writers, and encouraging other young Muslims to attempt similar. 
URL https://www.hoperoadpublishing.com/a-match-made-in-heaven
 
Title Halal Dating 
Description Halal Dating: An Animated Conversation from the Storying Relationships Project 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact This film has been used to spark conversations and ideas by young Pakistani Muslims and their friends and families. This has taken place in formal settings such as the premiere of the animated film, in which a public debate was recorded and facilitated, and it has also taken place in less auditable settings, such as among audiences of features where the film making process was covered on BBC Look North TV and on Radio Sheffield (as documented within this research fish submission). 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l9bHRgttqs
 
Title Project website with links toproject facebook, tiwtter and other social media 
Description Project website with links to associated social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp group messages. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The website and other social media presence highlights and facilitates partnerships, and also engages participants, some of whom are more comfortable with this form of communication, as a funciton of their age (the group involves younger people). 
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/storyingrelationships
 
Title Talking Heads 
Description Eleven short films in which young Muslim men and women read from their creative writing pieces, produced in workshops run through the Storying Relationships project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Encouraging other young Muslims to talk about sex and relationships - the themes of these films. Providing opportunities for participants to find their voices and share stories. For some, this has led to publication of written versions of these texts, including in an anthology, A Match Made in Heaven (HopeRoad, 2019) and in other online and hard copy sources. Some participants in these workshops have also continued with creative writing, some through blogging, others through media such as Radio Ramadhan in Glasgow. Impact work is ongoing as these films are disseminated and used in engagement events. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFwFkLcS80D7cxXZk4-3dTg
 
Title Two short documentaries: Meaningful Research Through Creative Writing; and Women Making Choices 
Description These two short documentaries disseminate research methods, designed to elicit findings on sensitive and private issues, and also reveal some findings from such research, involving young British Muslims. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Impact work is ongoing; these are being used in capacity building workshops and disseminated through online networks. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFwFkLcS80D7cxXZk4-3dTg
 
Description 1. For many young British Muslims, it is hard for to talk about sex and love. This silence has consequences. Since talking about this delicate subject can be a way of identifying and making choices, not talking about it can have the opposite effect. Of course, Muslims are not alone in finding it hard to speak about sex and love, though they face particular obstacles in doing so.

2. Some young British Muslims are finding ways to speak - and write - about sexual relationships. One way they are doing this is by speaking out about dating. By talking and writing - with friends, and sometimes with families, as well as online and in virtual conversations - they are exploring ways in which dating might be religiously permissible (halal).

3. Most young British Muslims experience pressure to marry a person of the opposite sex, approved by the family, and do so while they are young (for most, this means before the end of their twenties), and to do so in accordance with marriage customs. Pressure to marry comes in different forms, which include instructions, advice, questions, introductions, and unsolicited assistance.

4. Some young Muslims are finding ways to be single by postponing marriage, perhaps indefinitely, perhaps just for a few years. Muslims are often portrayed as passing from childhood to married life in the blink of an eye. Those living for a time as single adults contradict the stereotype of the Muslim who is either a child or a married adult. For some, being single is a time of freedom and exploration.

5. Young British Muslims are also finding ways to negotiate the kinds of marriages they want, the ways in which they want to find their spouse, and the question of whether they should marry at all. Muslims' marriage attitudes and practices are inflected by their ethnic and national identification and heritage. British Muslims trace their heritage to many parts of the world; nowhere more than Pakistani. Young British-Pakistani Muslims are actively mobilising the terms 'Pakistan' and 'Pakistani' as springboards from which to identify and make choices about the kinds of sexual relationships - primarily the marriages - they would like or accept in their lives. Talking about their heritage, they are exploring possibilities rather than articulating inevitabilities, and approaching Pakistani heritage as a resource rather than a determinant or constraint.

6. Young Muslims are seeking and finding sexual love. They are experimenting with sexual experiences and possibilities, and exploring their sexualities. These findings confound some wider stereotypes, which depict Muslims as unhappily married and sexually unfulfilled.

Notwithstanding these general conclusions, if there is one common thread in the ways in which young British Muslims talk about sex and love, both verbally and in published and unpublished writing, it is diversity. Speaking about experiences and possibilities, dreams and worries, the range of their voices and stories is richer and more complex than received ideas about them. What emerges from our research is a more complex picture, one that unsettles stereotypes about the sexual lives of Muslims without simply idealising its subjects.

Young Muslims' experiences are often voiced by others, both in the wider society (where more is said about Muslims than heard from them) and within their families and communities (where younger people are typically expected to defer to elders). For the young people investigated in our research, in what we are calling 'critical collaborative storying workshops', opportunities to find a voice and speak on a vital subject without interruption are significant and exciting.

This project pioneered the use of creative writing methods for social research, and in doing so it revealed some of the promise but also the challenges of these techniques. Though the reading and writing workshops were in many cases positive and productive, there proved to be barriers to participation. Men, in particular, were harder to reach, as were younger people (under 20s). Where these obstacles could be overcome, though, creative writing opened up possibilities for speaking on issues that many people consider sensitive and private. The led to the commissioning of a women's writing anthology with a respected literary publisher.

Some participants in this project - both interviewees and workshop participants - found that through their involvement in this project, they were able to find voices, in some cases developing writing skills and technical and artistic competencies in a range of creative media including animation, blogging and playwriting. Some refined their writing to the point that it could be published, while others recorded performances of their work on film, within this project.
Exploitation Route The dissemination of findings and outputs from this project by the authors is continuing through sessions at literary festivals (including Karachi, Bradford and Sheffield, subject to covid restrictions) and through media (including BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio 4).

The writers who have found voices, developed skills and published for the first time through this project will, we hope, go on to develop writing careers.

The project has additional potential for engagement and impact among non-academic audiences, notably through contributions to the new (from 2020) Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum delivery in second schools in England, and the counterpart in primary schools (in which the sexual education element is optional rather than compulsory). Experiences of working with young people, broaching silences about sex that are particularly pronounced among Muslims, stand to be informed by the outputs and methods generated in this project.

The project, focussing upon sexual relationships among British Pakistani Muslims, touched upon transnational and diasporic dimensions, which include spousal migration and transnational family formation. This project has attracted interest in Pakistan and stands to be developed into successor projects more directly concerned with storying *transnational* sexual relationships.

The project's pioneering work on the use of creative writing as a social research method - for collecting, analysing and disseminating findings - has been shared through a book and workshop, and is a promising area for innovative, cross-disciplinary creative research methods, which other researchers will take forward.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/storyingrelationships
 
Description The impacts of this project reach from the specific commmunities involved to broader societal impacts: (a) supporting young British Muslims who are seeking to develop as writers; (b) support young British Muslims who are seeking to identify and make choices about sexual relationships; (c) inform British public understanding of the ways in which Muslims experience sex and relationships, thereby contesting misunderstandings and stereotypes; (d) inform and support Relationships and Sexual Education in schools in England (as explained below). Each of these is exemplified by the participatory creative workshops, which were fundamental to the project, and which led to outputs including an anthology of writing about sex and relationships by young British Muslim women: A Match Made in Heaven (Hope Road, 2020). The workshops provided an opportunity to work with young British Muslims, including mentoring some to publication, both through the anthology and beyond. One participant, Sarish Hussain, has since stated that the workshops provided a 'a safe space for young Muslims to write freely about love and relationships' and gave her 'the opportunity to see myself as a part of, and contributor to, a vibrant and resisting group of emerging Muslim writers.' She adds that mentorship from the workshop leader allowed her to resist 'the often exoticised and stereotypical demands of publishers'. Noren Haq, an aspiring writer published for the first time in A Match Made in Heaven, has flagged the power of the project to reach beyond its participants: 'the exposure I have had has led to a shift in attitudes' for 'other Muslim women of south...Asian heritage.' She traces this exposure to both A Match Made in Heaven and her appearance on BBC Radio 4's flagship programme Woman's Hour (during which the host Jane Garvey commented on the 'real impact' the project had had on Haq herself). The managing director of the BAME-identified literary press that published A Match Made in Heaven has stated that the press has since been 'inundated' with enquires from Muslim writers. These impacts, focussed around writing and reading among young British Muslims, have spun out more widely through wider British Muslim and Asian heritage communities, reached through publications (such as the anthology described here), films developed in creative workshops (posted through the Storying Relationships website on YouTube), contributions to wider British-Asian and British Muslim conversations (such as a 2-hour feature on the BBC Radio Asian Network in January 2020), and among the wider public (such as through the BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour feature described above). Ongoing impact work, supported by follow on funding for impact and engagement, is concerned with informing and supporting Relationships and Sexual Education (RSE) in schools in England. Specifically, the findings of the project, both methodological and substantive, including creative writing tools and creative writing outputs respectively, are being adapted for use in schools, particularly those with diverse classrooms including children from faith communites. We are working to support schools in consulting with parents of faith on RSE teaching, as they are require to do by law, and we are also supporting teachers in ensuring that their teaching engages children with faith backgrounds. We are producing and disseminating teaching resources, and also running CPD events at both primary and secondary level, all using outputs of the previous AHRC project.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Sexual Relationships: attitudes and experiences of young British Muslims - Policy Report
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
 
Description Supporting Inclusive RSE - CPD and Learning Resources for Primary and Secondary Teachers in the Sheffield Region
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
Impact Supporting teachers and schools in their delivery of RSE; supporting faith communities and specifically children from faith communities to ensure they benefit from mainstream RSE.
 
Description INCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS AND SEX EDUCATION: SUPPORTING CHILDREN FROM FAITH COMMUNITIES
Amount £80,615 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/V008870/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2021 
End 08/2022
 
Description Sheffield Islamic Communities -- FOSS
Amount £1,200 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2017
 
Title Community Interviewer Training and Mentoring 
Description Community interviewers were recruited and trained within this project, and then mentored as they went on to collect data within their communities. This method breaks down some conventional boundaries between researcher and researched, and involves individuals and communities who are both investigators and stakeholders, and also gatekeepers to stakeholder communities. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Is the subject of a paper which is being written by Co-Investigator Peter Hopkins, and also the subject of conference presentations. This is key to engaging community stakeholder groups. 
 
Title Creative Writing for Social Research 
Description Data collection and analysis technique involving use of creative writing, shared through the publication of methodologically oriented book entitled Creative Writing for Social Research, published by Policy Press in January 2021. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Feedback from wide range of social researchers, across discipilnes and internationally, stating that they have learned from and intend to apply the methods and practices shared. 
URL https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/creative-writing-for-social-research/companion-website
 
Title Critical Collaborative Storying 
Description This project develops and innovates in a qualitative research methodology which we call 'critical collaborative storying'. This works through several media including animation, play writing and fiction writing, and involves facilitators and participants. It is not possible to separate data collection from analysis in this work -- the two are intrinsically combined. They do, however, include the analysis through workshops of data collected in the previous phase of the project (interviews, which form the point of departure for the workshops). 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact These methods are the subject of a series of initial papers and conference presentations, through which they will be disseminated. The outcomes, still emerging, are both within this project and beyond it. 
 
Title Gupshops 
Description Gupshops -- a term derived from a British Asian term for chit chat, and applied to the research context in the form of informat discussion of text derived from interviews and literary sources -- are pioneered within this project as one of its innovative data interpretation techniques. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This method will be disseminated through research outputs and is already having an impact within this project, both in terms of participant experiences and also the development of findings. 
 
Description Glasgow Womens Library 
Organisation Glasgow Women's Library
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborating with Glasgow Women's Library to convene two strands of 'storying workshops' -- one on writing plays, the other on writing fiction -- involving British Pakistani women. We are convening the sessions collaboratively and providing a steer on how they run, and are also paying for space and for the services of the session facilitators.
Collaborator Contribution The organisation is collaborating with us to convene these events, recruit and support participants and facilitators, and promote these through communications activities.
Impact We have run two series of workshops with the library and are working towards events in which the outcomes of these workshop series are celebrated and performed. These sessions run through January to May 2018.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Longley Park 
Organisation Longley Park Sixth Form College
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working together to deliver a series of workshops on creative writing for young people. We are providing the facilitator and the resources needed to achieve this and are assisting with recruitment.
Collaborator Contribution The school is helping with recruitment and communications and is providing space and endorsement for these events.
Impact We are working together to help young people develop writing skills. We hope this will lead to outputs that will be included in an anthology of creative writing.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Pakistan Muslim Centre, South Yorkshire 
Organisation Pakistan Muslim Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Consultations to invite associates to join and participate in reading and writing workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration to promote reading and writing workshops, including promotion through the PMC radio channel.
Impact Plans to collaborate on future workshops, and stakeholder events.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Stakeholder and community partner: Amina 
Organisation Amina Muslim Women Resource Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This organisation is a stakeholder and partner in this project. Partnership involves the following: (i) the opportunity to share networks and information with other project partners. (ii) invitations to attend stakeholder workshops to help tailor the project to reflect the interests of community groups and young people, and to discuss findings. (iii) opportunities for partner organisations and/or members and contacts to be involved in the research and to develop research skills. This could involve: being interviewed; being trained and involved as a community interviewer; participating in creative workshops.
Collaborator Contribution This partner has provided contacts to individuals, who have acted as interviewees and/or as community interviewers in this project. These participants may go on to play a part in later stages of the project.
Impact This partnership involves ongoing empirical research, and formal outputs and outcomes will be produced in due course, as part of the wider project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Stakeholder and community partner: Emtep 
Organisation Ethnic Minorities Training & Education Project
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution As explained below, contacts and members of this partner organisation are engaged in this project as community interviewers. These individuals have been trained accordingly and the skills they have acquired through this training and practised through interviews they have subsequently conducted are a pathway to impact of this project, and are included within the impact plan; also included in the latter are stakeholder workshops, which are forthcoming, in which the stakeholders will discuss findings, and capacity building workshops, in which the skill they have acquired in the course of their involvement in the project will be reinforced. Initial capacity building support has already taken place through individual feedback meetings with interviewers, following their first interviews and supporting their ongoing work in this area.
Collaborator Contribution This partner has provided contacts to individuals, who have acted both as interviewees and as community interviewers in this project. The partner is also more directly involved in the project through the involvement of individuals within the organisation, again both as interviewees and interviewers. These participants may go on to play a part in later stages of the project.
Impact This partnership involves ongoing empirical research, and formal outputs and outcomes will be produced in due course, as part of the wider project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Stakeholder and community partner: Kirklees Community Learning 
Organisation Community Learning in Kirklees
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This organisation is a stakeholder and partner in this project. Partnership involves the following: (i) the opportunity to share networks and information with other project partners. (ii) invitations to attend stakeholder workshops to help tailor the project to reflect the interests of community groups and young people, and to discuss findings. (iii) opportunities for partner organisations and/or members and contacts to be involved in the research and to develop research skills. This could involve: being interviewed; being trained and involved as a community interviewer; participating in creative workshops.
Collaborator Contribution This partner has provided contacts to individuals, who have acted as interviewees and/or as community interviewers in this project. These participants may go on to play a part in later stages of the project.
Impact This partnership involves ongoing empirical research, and formal outputs and outcomes will be produced in due course, as part of the wider project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Stakeholder and community partner: Kirklees RSACC 
Organisation Kirklees Rape & Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This organisation is a stakeholder and partner in this project. Partnership involves the following: (i) the opportunity to share networks and information with other project partners. (ii) invitations to attend stakeholder workshops to help tailor the project to reflect the interests of community groups and young people, and to discuss findings. (iii) opportunities for partner organisations and/or members and contacts to be involved in the research and to develop research skills. This could involve: being interviewed; being trained and involved as a community interviewer; participating in creative workshops.
Collaborator Contribution This partner has provided contacts to individuals, who have acted as interviewees and/or as community interviewers in this project. These participants may go on to play a part in later stages of the project.
Impact This partnership involves ongoing empirical research, and formal outputs and outcomes will be produced in due course, as part of the wider project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Stakeholder and community partner: Pakistan and Kashmir Welfare Association (PKWA) 
Organisation Pakistan and Kashmir Welfare Association
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution This organisation is a stakeholder and partner in this project. Partnership involves the following: (i) the opportunity to share networks and information with other project partners. (ii) invitations to attend stakeholder workshops to help tailor the project to reflect the interests of community groups and young people, and to discuss findings. (iii) opportunities for partner organisations and/or members and contacts to be involved in the research and to develop research skills. This could involve: being interviewed; being trained and involved as a community interviewer; participating in creative workshops.
Collaborator Contribution This partner has provided contacts to individuals, who have acted as interviewees and/or as community interviewers in this project. These participants may go on to play a part in later stages of the project.
Impact This partnership involves ongoing empirical research, and formal outputs and outcomes will be produced in due course, as part of the wider project.
Start Year 2016
 
Description A Match Made in Heaven British Muslim Women Write About Love and Desire - An Event to Mark International Women's Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Event at Sheffield Central Library. To coincide with International Women's Day.
Ahead of publication of an anthology of writing, which emerged from the Storying Sexual Relationships project, Dr Claire Chambers and Dr Nafhesa Ali introduce the book. A Match Made in Heaven is a collection of 16 short stories by young British Muslim women writers. An evening of lively discussion and readings from the book. The book, also edited by Professor Richard Philips is published by HopeRoad, this spring.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-match-made-in-heaven-british-muslim-women-writers-on-love-and-desir...
 
Description Apna Haq, Rotherham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A capacity building workshop on the theme of using creative writing methods was disseminated with Apna Haq in July 2019. The organisation and professionals attending shared they had a keen interest to engage with storying methods for the support the provide and for their clients.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.apnahaq.org.uk/
 
Description BBC Asian Network 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A 2-hour special show on BBC Asian Network, 10pm-midnight, 22 January 2020, hosted by Poppy Begum, with guests Nafhesa Ali (Storying Relationships PDRA), 3 participants in the creative writing workshops (two writers and one workshop faciltator) and one Imam. In-depth discussion of issues raised by the research, with details of the creative writing workshops, interspersed with music, and aimed at a young British Asian audience.
Presenter Poppy Begum started the discussion with each participant by playing a word association game: I say Muslim and sexuality, you say...
Themes discussed included wedding night performance anxiety, marriage arrangements, homosexuality, creativity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b2mqcb/episodes/player?page=1
 
Description BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A Match Made in Heaven - an anthology of writing by young Muslim women, which was an output of this project - was featured on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour on 6 Sept 2020, in a 10-minute slot hosted by Jane Garvey. Guests included two members of the project team - Claire Chambers and Nafhesa Ali - and one participant in the project, who contributed a piece to the anthology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m5z4
 
Description Batley Library and Information Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A capacity building workshop themed around 'Young Muslims and creative writing' was disseminated at the library in order to share the YouTube films and writing pieces from the project. The impact of this talk highlighted an interest from audience members to engage with creative writing and others reconsidered notions of love and relationships within the Muslim marriage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://communitydirectory.kirklees.gov.uk/communityDirectory/venueDetails.aspx?venueID=48
 
Description Bradford Asian Muslims Writing Group event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact British Asian writer John Siddique presented and discussed some of his work at an event designed to engage young Asian/Muslim people interestied in reading and writing about love and relationships. Convened by Co-Investigator Claire Chambers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description CI Claire Chambers with Tribe Arts on Radio Asian Fever 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact CI Claire Chambers in conversation with Tribe Arts, a Leeds-based theatre company, through a radio broadcast with audiences within and beyond the British Asian communities within and beyond the region. In addition to its immediate and direct value, in connecting with audiences relevant to this project, the broadcast also led to collaboration with Tribe in developing and co-producing the first of the 'gupshops' and storying workshops in stage 2 of the project (as explained in case for support).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://soundcloud.com/fever_fm/reflections-with-khalida-guests-dr-claire-chambers-sam-taj-tribe-art...
 
Description Challenging dystopian geographies of sex and diversity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presented in Annual Meeting of Association of American Geographers, Washington DC, April 2019, in session on 'Throwntogetherness'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Community Interviewer Training Event (Glasgow, February 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Community interviewer training event, with capacity building outcomes for participants. Participants selected from applications, invited by members of local community members who identify as British Muslims of Pakistani heritage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Community Interviewer Training Event: Yorkshire (Huddersfield, 26 Nov 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Community interviewer training event, with capacity building outcomes for participants. Participants selected from applications, invited by members of local community members who identify as British Muslims of Pakistani heritage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Community interviewer training: Newcastle (23 October 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Community interviewer training event, with capacity building outcomes for participants. Participants selected from applications, invited by members of local community members who identify as British Muslims of Pakistani heritage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Creative Writing and Empowerment - Forman Christian College, Pakistan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation on the use of creative writing methods in empowerment research. How creative writing can be used to share life stories of education and change for women.
50 students attended the presentation and 18 of these students will be selected to conduct research with individuals - creating stories on empowerment and education.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Festival of Social Science 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public engagement event convened within Festival of Social Science: Sheffield Islamic Communities, 8 Nov 2017. Speakers including Richard Phillips, Nafhesa Ali and members of the project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://festivalofsocialscience.group.shef.ac.uk/muslim-communities-in-sheffield-and-yorkshire/
 
Description Glasgow Muslim Men's Screenwriting Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Screenwriting workshops for young Muslim men. Workshops began with discussions of sex and relationships, and included exercises in creative writing, and then led to creative writing about sex and relationships, followed by filming of creative writing pieces.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Glasgow Women's Library - Celebration of Muslim Women's Creative Writing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Public event at Glasgow Women's Library showcased the outputs of a series of creative writing - playwriting, blogging, fiction - workshops, which had been held at the GWL over the previous months. This was a well attended event, which was filmed, and widely discussed on social and other media. It bridged the end of the workshops, which we had run at the GWL, and the beginning of more independent writing and creative work, which many of the participants took forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/storyingrelationships/news_comment/celebrationevent-1.787479
 
Description Glasgow Women's Library Public Engagement Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This event included talks and readings by two Muslim women authors and by the PDRA Dr Nafhesa Ali. This launched a series of workshops and was a freestanding event in itself. This was a collaboration between the authors, the Women's Library and the project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://womenslibrary.org.uk/events/category/creative-writing/
 
Description Halal Dating Animation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This short animated film was made by members of a creative workshop, convened through this project. It was screened in a premiere event (detailed separately) and also posted on YouTube, where is remains. We have also taken this to after school clubs, shown it at workshops and events including the Celebration of Muslim Women's Writing (September 2018) at the Glasgow Women's Library (detailed separately), and as an internet posting this is also accessed independently by private individuals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l9bHRgttqs
 
Description Halal Dating Animation Premiere 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The animated film on Halal Dating, made by participants in a series of workshops, was screened, introduced and debated by member of the public, concentrating on members of the Pakistani and/or Muslim communities in the Yorkshire area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/storyingrelationships/news_comment/filmpremiere-1.722778
 
Description LGBT Muslims writers group event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact LGBT Muslim writer presented work and convened discussion, aiming to attract participants to a series of LGBT themed Muslim/Pakistan writing events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Longley Park Writers Event for 6th formers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Two Asian-identified writers presented readings and talked to sixth formers about their writing. The aim was to encourage the school students -- in a diverse school -- to take an interest in reading and writing and exploring British Asian experiences and literature through doing so.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.longleypark.ac.uk/
 
Description Look North Feature 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact TV coverage of Animation Workshops, which were the first of six series of workshops convened within this project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a7B54Hmtow
 
Description Meaningful Research through Creative Writing - Methods @ Manchester (Manchester University Methods Fair) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Platform presentation 'Meaningful research through creative writing: storying sexual relationships'

Intended purpose: To share how through creative writing, it is possible to explore questions and themes that more direct and formal methodologies tend to miss. This is particularly the case when research involves participants who, for personal, cultural and religious reasons, may not be comfortable with direct questions about certain subjects. This presentation described the methods employed in a project investigating sexual relationship attitudes and practices among young British Muslims. For many Muslims, sex and relationships are difficult subjects to talk about, whether in everyday life or in interviews. This study worked around the challenges of getting people to talk about this taboo subject by employing creative research methods, which circumvented these difficulties. Specifically, the project involved creative writing workshops, in which young Muslims worked across a range of media - animated film, short fiction, blogging and play writing -- and in this way explored and presented their experiences, hopes, fears and dreams, in each case on the subject of sexual relationships. This presentation includes a spoken element, in which we explain our project, and a series of short films, which present some of the fruits of this work. In these films, young Muslims read from their creative writing.

It reached approximately 30 individuals who came to the talk, and sparked an interesting discussion around the benefits of creative writing in research, but also with sensitive issues and 'hard-to-reach' community groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/connect/events/methods-fair-2019/
 
Description Methods Symposium: Creative Writing for Social Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop drew out a theme of the project -- the use of creative writing as an innovative means of conducting and disseminating social research findings. The aim was to hold a high quality, select event, exploring this subject and developing an output on it, as a product of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Muslim Women in Academia, Sheffield University Research Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Engagement activity - sharing storying methods and usefulness in and for research with Muslims.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description NGM Presentation Stockholm 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Paper delivered by Richard Phillips at Nordic Geographers Meeting,
Stockholm, June, 2017
Session 4, Young People's Agency and/or Exclusion: Possibilities of Belonging II.
Victims or agents? Relationship attitudes and practices of young British Muslims of Pakistani Heritage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.humangeo.su.se/english/ngm-2017/programme
 
Description Newcastle University Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (NU-KESS): Young people, multiculturalism and community cohesion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Peter Hopkins and Raksha Pande presented research at the Newcastle University Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (NU-KESS). Audience consisted of academic and community organisation representatives including representatives form community policing, Gateshead, Teesside and Newcastle Council and cultural organisations working with BAME populations.
Pande has since been contacted by a social worker who works in community housing for Gateshead council to ask for our community interviewing slides as she wants to find out more about different methods of engaging with young people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://microsites.ncl.ac.uk/nubsstaffblog/2018/11/19/newcastle-university-knowledge-exchange-semina...
 
Description Off the Shelf 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Nafhesa Ali, In Conversation with Sara Khan, Author of Battle for British Islam
Sunday 22nd October, 2017
OFF THE SHELF Events, The University of Sheffield
Dr. Nafhesa Ali hosts a conversation with Sara Khan talking about her 2016 book Battle for British Islam
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description PSA Conference Panel and Presentations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Session at Postcolonial Studies Association, London, 20 September 2017
Stories of Muslim Sexuality
Chair: Esha Sil
• Claire Chambers - 'Sexual Misery' or 'Happy British Muslims'?: Depictions of Muslim Sexuality
• Raksha Pande - Affective Citizens? Postcolonial Interpretations of British-Pakistani Love and Intimacy
• Richard Phillips and Nafhesa Ali - (How) Do Muslims Date?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.postcolonialstudiesassociation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/PSA2017-Convention-Progra...
 
Description Pakistan's Children 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Capacity building engagement activity - sharing of storying methods with a potential international reach.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Panel Session: Research Involving Muslims 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We convened a panel session on the subject of 'Research Involving Muslims' in which speakers spoke about their research positionalities. The session drew speakers from Asia, Australia, America and across Europe, and an equally wide audience. Trondheim, Norway, NGM (Nordic Geographers Meeting), June 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ntnu.edu/geography/ngm-2019
 
Description Presentation at Aga Khan University by Claire Chambers 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Presentation by Claire Chambers: 'Sexual Misery' or 'Happy British Muslims'? Contemporary Mediations of Muslim Sexuality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFwyJg3yXyk&index=6&list=PLU70S6ZdtaxOK4a0y7UDRczbp_ugrX-3O
 
Description Presentation of work in Progress: Kings College London (8 March 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited presentation by PI of work in progress, delivered to academic audience at Kings College London, composed of academic staff and postgraduate students, with discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation of work in progress: Glasgow University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation by PI of work in progress, delivered to academic audience at Glasgow University, composed of academic staff and postgraduate students, with discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to DCLG 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Richard Phillips, PI, invited address to DCLG Research Unit, Home Office, through ESRC-funded Seminar Series, December 8, 2016.
This was the last event in the series entitled 'Ways of Neighbourhood Knowing and Working' and took place at the Home Office in London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://neighbourhoodworking.wordpress.com/
 
Description RGS Annual Conference 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Project members Peter Hopkins and Raksha Pande convened a session and also presented, on the subject of young people and sexuality, which is a theme of this project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://conference.rgs.org/AC2018/236
 
Description Radio Ramadhan Glasgow: Relationships series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio Ramadhan Glasgow interview/discussion with Nafhesa Ali on the project, creative writing and theme of young Muslims and relationship practices. The impact of this interview, is the interviewer has added a contribution to the project anthology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.radioramadhan.scot/
 
Description Radio Sheffield Halal Dating 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participants in 'animation workshops' went on air to explain the project and discuss the idea of 'halal dating' for the benefit of wider audiences including both Muslims and others. Also designed to attract attention to a screening event, which ran shortly afterwards. Broadcast on 10 Sept 2017 at 8:20 PM.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05dsn51
 
Description Rochdale Screenwriting Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Screenwriting workshops for young Muslim men. Workshops began with discussions of sex and relationships, and included exercises in creative writing, and then led to creative writing about sex and relationships.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stella Quines, Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Meeting with Stella Quines Community Development Officer to discuss potential collaboration and the way in which storying methods may be used with Stella and/or any future projects they may be interested in.

An additional element of this meeting highlighted a collaboration at the Glasgow Women's library engagement event in September 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.stellarquines.com/
 
Description Storying Relationships films 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This stage of the project is in progress, so estimates of audience are preliminary, but will certainly be above the figure shown above. We have produced two short documentaries and a series of short 'talking heads' films in which participants are reading out and otherwise performing their creative work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Storying Relationships: What Muslims can and can't talk about 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper presentation at the British Islam Conference, Amnesty International in London (23-24th February, 2019). This session initiated debate and discussion around the topic and theme of young Muslims and sexual relationships.

The session discussion also lead to a capacity building collaboration between the Storying Relationships project and Apna Haq.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.britishislamconference.com/
 
Description Women Making Choices - Glasgow Women's Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Following a series of creative writing workshops at Glasgow Women's Library, young British Muslim women in collaboration with the Storying Relationships project created a series of short films exploring how they talk and think about personal relationships. The screening aimed to showcase a series of methods films, such as the 'Women Making Choices' films and a number of our Talking Heads films.

25 people attended the event and the impact the screenings had were highlighted in comments from the audience. They noted that it 'was a good project to do', 'highlights issues such sexual relationships, which need to be talked about', and how much they 'enjoyed' watching the films.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://womenslibrary.org.uk/event/women-making-choices/