The people behind Mile 91 are Catherine Raynor and Ben Langdon.
First things first, what does our name mean? That’s usually the first question we get asked when we meet new people so if you’re reading this page we think you might want to know too. Mile 91 is a town in Sierra Leone and one of the places we visited on our first story gathering trip in 2007.
At the time we were working for VSO where we had become colleagues in 2002, Ben working in fundraising and Catherine in communications. Not long after returning from Sierra Leone we started daydreaming about how brilliant it would be to make storytelling for charities our full time job. Fast forward to 2011 and we had both left VSO and we started collaborating as freelancers. In summer 2013 Mile 91 was born.
In the years since our first trip for VSO, we have captured the stories of hundreds of individuals. We have worked with charities, NGOs, businesses and philanthropy organisations in more than 25 developing countries and emerging economies and in communities across the UK. We have extensive experience working in challenging environments and with vulnerable people. We work sensitively with people in distressing situations and can adapt quickly to different cultures. We cut through complexity to find the human story that brings an issue to life.
Our background is international development story gathering but our focus has widened considerably over the years. Like everyone, we are more aware of our environmental footprint and of the ethics of storytelling so where possible we work with talented local crews rather than fly everywhere ourselves (though we still like the occasional travel!). As the UK has become a harder and less fair place for some people it’s become more important to tell stories from closer to home too. And people who do good things don’t just work for charities so we also work with small ethical businesses and sustainability organisations. Along the way tech has evolved and become more affordable so we now spend a lot of our time training others to use the tech they have in their pocket to capture their own content.
People talk about the seven year itch so maybe 2020 was a bad year to reach that milestone but actually we’ve been evolving continuously so maybe we can just say that in 2020 we turned adapting into an extreme sport? That sounds more exciting than pivoting. But seriously, back in 2013 when we spent a huge chunk of our working life on planes we would not have imagined that one day we would be receiving footage shot on smartphones in cotton fields in China and India to edit for an online event attended by people from around the world. Truth is stranger than fiction.