Storytelling in Keynsham

October 5, 2019

I am at the mid-way point through the 6 storytelling sessions, where funding has been granted for my little town of Keynsham (between Bristol and Bath), for me to run, organise, find storytellers, find an audience, find volunteers, pretty much do everything, with support from Touch Network…

At the beginning I found this prospect daunting and felt that I could be isolated as all the responsibility was on me to make this happen. I have never been one to ‘shout the loudest’ or make my opinions public, in fact I steered away, deliberately, from social media because I am reserved and shy. However, I am also very determined and when I feel passionately about something that has ‘touched’ me then I am happy to shout it from the rooftops! I knew this side of me quietly existed but realised after the first event that I had in fact surprised many friends and associates by hosting confidently, calmly and passionately.

The reaction from the local community has been incredibly positive. Meeting and finding new storytellers is one my favourite parts of this project; I get to hear some magical, joyful but also heart-breaking stories. A real trust needs to be formed for this relationship to work as the storytellers look for guidance and reassurance – even though all the answers come from them. This has given me a sense of social worth – building my confidence and self-esteem, that I forgot could be felt within, when someone wants and needs you.

Yes – there have been moments of panic and stress and forms have forgotten to be signed and storytellers have pulled out and I have had to rely on family members to become my volunteers, but never once have I felt alone in this. Debs, the founder of ‘Touch’ has been my mentor, counsellor, advisor and general super-support-women. She has put her faith in me to deliver the goods in the ethos of the organisation. She has always been available to give me reassurance – seeing the positive in all I do and praise – praise like I have never heard before – but constructive praise allowing me to step outside of myself and reflect on what others see. Plus, little nuggets of advice like ‘trust your instincts’ and ‘what would you expect if you went to one of these events for the first time?’ Sometimes praise can be overwhelming and gushing, but not Debs praise and I know this because amazingly it is still lodged in my brain. So now when I am faced with uncertainty I think – what would Debs say to me? It is such a joy to have her on this journey with me.

I can feel the change ‘Touch’ has made to me. When I hosted event one, although trying to be as relaxed as possible, I felt nervous for all three storytellers. After introducing the first storyteller at event three I sat down, relaxed and looked forward to an evening of storytelling and it was a truly lovely evening that I feel proud to have brought to our little town – getting people talking and ‘doing life together.’