Telling a more inclusive kind of story at the National Trust

Published : Wed 16th Feb

Sean Douglas, Senior Podcast Producer, tells the importance of accessibility when it comes to telling the stories of the place and spaces the National Trust looks after, and how the organisation works hard to make sure it’s relevant to all communities and people.

At the National Trust, we work hard to make sure we’re relevant to all sorts of communities and people. And it's not a one size fits all – different communities will want to experience our places, or properties or landscapes in different ways. It's about finding those experiences and promoting them in the right ways. If you want to have a wider demographic, it’s important to make sure you’re talking to everyone at all levels.

Exploring more diverse stories

As a senior podcast producer at the National Trust, I get to do some great things, see some great places and tell some fantastic stories. There’s no such thing as a typical day for me. I lead a team of audio producers and we produce the main series of National Trust podcasts. We do spin-off series too, such as the Women in Power podcast. And we also produce audio guides and things like that too. There's a lot of research to do, there's a lot of editing and a lot of interviewing, but it's fantastic and every day is different. Recently, I was in Kent, and we were doing a podcast about crafts. A week before that I was on a bike path, backpacking across the Cornish coast. And before that I was in a field at midnight, looking for glow worms!

There’s no doubt that diversity and inclusion in the workplace gives us a much broader viewpoint on things. If you're trying to find a solution to a problem and you've only got one viewpoint, you'll always solve a problem in the same way. I'm Black, Afro Caribbean, so that gives me a particular viewpoint on things. I'm also dyslexic, so again, that gives me a different viewpoint to other people. I always use the analogy that if you've got a packet of Celebrations, would you want a box full of Mars bars as well? Even if you love Mars bars, you’d get bored with the same thing. It’s having different flavours to choose from that enhances the experience.

Using my own experiences

As a kid, I hated history. Looking back, I wasn’t able to access history in a way that felt relevant to me. When I originally interviewed for this position, I was very vocal about my experience when I was younger. One of the things I wanted to do was to try and help the organisation appeal to those people that may not realise that the National Trust has something to offer them. I come from a Caribbean background, my parents are from Jamaica, and we have a really rich heritage with lots of food, music and dancing. But if you're looking at what was there before, it’s not documented. You have to work really hard to find that. For example, in the US, we know of a Black explorer called Matthew Henson, but you’d be hard pushed to find a Black British explorer. That’s not to say that they didn't exist, it’s just that there aren’t any documents featuring them.

Remembering how I felt when I was younger, and seeing where I am now, helps me to tell stories in a way that I know is much more accessible. I love being able to tell stories with different voices and hear about different life experiences. We create podcasts about all kinds of complicated subjects. And the best thing people say to me after they’ve listened to it, is that I’ve explained it in a way they understood. Being in a position where I can create content that’s accessible for people is really rewarding.