Are you one of those people who finds it a great deal easier to be angry with strangers than with people you know? I am. The person in the street who looks like they are about to cause trouble, or the driver shielded by glass and steel who didn’t indicate a left turn and nearly knocked me from my bike. Nameless and distant, there is minimal sense of shared humanity. I cannot see their perspective, they are ‘other’.

The philosopher Richard Rorty didn’t believe that we could reason our way to universal human rights. No rational argument could do the work required because the idea of an objective (non-relative) set of principles was a myth (he thought). I’m not sure I agree with his relativism, but I do like his solution. We should tell stories.

We need a route to empathy to remove the strangeness of strangers; to make them no longer the others but one of us. Rorty believed that stories offered this route and hence offered a hope of bridging global chasms between cultures.

If I knew the story of the boy setting fire to the bin, or of the man in the silver BMW who didn’t indicate, I might think of them differently.

Stories are powerful tools for breaking down barriers, and that’s why I think Manchester based Asylum Stories is a great project. They are us.