This amazing funding will give us the opportunity to expand across Southampton to continue to be the city’s mental health champions. We will also continue to provide support both through our events and our work with the NHS and social care organisations (although this is separate from the funding itself).

In 2015, Touch’s founder, Debs Carter, sent a book about her mental health journey to 150 people. The response led to her holding a one-off event in a small coffee shop in Southampton, where others were invited to share their stories. For Debs, this highlighted the need for more spaces for people to come together as a community and share stories of overcoming and positivity – and from there Touch Network began!

Touch started in 2016 and have since held 58 events, with 167 speakers having told their story and over 1630 attendees!  So far, we have received an amazing amount of positive feedback, with many people saying that hearing other people’s stories was inspiring and uplifting, and a great way to bring communities together and make people feel like they are not alone.  We have also been working with the NHS to support them in making storytelling a key part of their services.

With The National Lottery Community Fund, our 3-year plan here at Touch is looking very exciting! We want to keep our storytelling events at the heart of what we do, so we will soon be employing and coaching neighbourhood event champions to run storytelling events in all neighbourhoods across Southampton.  Through empowering communities across the city to tell their own stories, we hope to continue to be Southampton’s mental health champions, helping everyone to own their story, be proud of everything they have achieved, and celebrate their resilience.

We are so excited to continue to grow and touch the lives of many more people across the city to unite communities, as well as continuing to allow people to share their stories on our online ‘My Amazing Story’ community. We want to help as many people as possible to come together to celebrate resilience and the positive parts of life.

We are so grateful for all the support we have had over the years and we would love for as many people as possible to join our community and continue to share our message about the power of storytelling. You can be part of our journey by joining our mailing list and keeping an eye on our website and social media to see all our updates and stay in touch!