Jan Blake is one of the leading storytellers, and has been performing worldwide for
over twenty-five years. Specialising in stories from Africa and the Caribbean she has
a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. Highlights include
being resident storyteller at Hay Festival, curating Shakespeare’s
Stories, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and being the recipient of the Thuringe Marchen Preis,
awarded to those who have devoted their lives to storytelling. Her epic telling of The
Old Woman, the Buffalo, and the Lion of Manding about the Malian hero king Sundiata
Keita recently won a British Award for Storytelling Excellence. In 2015, her partner
clients included the British Museum, the Royal Opera House, the British Library,
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Dr Aala El-Khani is a Research Associate in the School of Psychological Sciences at The University of Manchester. She recently completed her PhD on exploring and meeting the parenting needs of families affected by war and displacement, to protect the mental health of children who have experienced armed conflict. She is passionate about raising awareness of the need to help parents to care for their children early on in their journey from refugee camps to resettlement. Through spending time with Syrian refugee families in refugee camps and on their journeys, she feels entrusted by these families to share their stories. Aala is determined to develop innovative ways of reaching these families with parenting information and training. Her work has been recognised by two prestigious academic awards from The University of Manchester; the Sue Fielder Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement 2015, and the Manchester Doctoral College Best Contribution to Society Award, 2016. Aala is originally from London, but after 13 years in Manchester, calls Manchester ‘home’.