In today’s modern age of mobile phones, instant messaging and Whatsapp, people have access to more “stories” than ever before, but perhaps have missed the “core” of what it is to share a story – an intimate connection with other human beings, and a space to learn from and with each other. Being in a space where you can share honest and real stories with one another has always been inspiring to me. I always find communication on a personal level more satisfying than your everyday small talk, so finding out and being a part of Touch Network which advocates this has truly been exciting for me!

In late January I had the privilege of listening as well as volunteering for one of Touch Networks’ events in Mettricks Old Town. It was a storytelling evening hosted by two previous speakers which included four speakers telling stories of overcoming adversity in their lives, plus (most importantly!) amazing-smelling coffee and cake! On the outset one could say the stories were all seemingly different, whether they were speaking about dealing with a physical disability or internal conflicts. However, I felt a real theme brewing for all four stories; a sense of determination to not let their challenges stop them, to actually build upon it and help others from overcoming there challenges. Additionally, for them the importance of being part of a community and being open about their difficulties they faced actually helped them in the end to go forward. Having been up on stage myself and spoken, it does take a lot of courage and vulnerability, but, afterwards (as I am sure the other speakers felt too) I felt a sense of being ‘alive’ – a feeling of being present.

What I realized and I do every time I attend or volunteer at the Touch events is that you really don’t know what is going on with a stranger that you may pass everyday on the street. Everyone has a story and sometimes I’ve found that it may be better to share this with others, so that not only can you become clearer on things yourself, but find that others may benefit too and see things about themselves or a situation in a different light. For me open communication is the key to many things, as clichéd as it may sound. Although we are a cyber-connected world, human connection is intimate, vulnerable, scary, and yet so amazing and powerful.  The real beauty of Touch Network, I’ve found, is that it opens a space for people to be intimate and vulnerable with one another, which ultimately enables that powerful and amazing connection you get from being yourself.

Anna Stonehouse – Volunteer and Guest Blogger