But two people are on a mission to change that by using the art of storytelling to bring people together and create a sense of community in Manchester.
The pair have created a space where people can share stories of their life, empowering the storyteller to feel heard and included.
Heard Storytelling was set up by Caroline and Colette in Manchester as a response to the political events of 2016, namely Brexit and Trump.
Both shared their frustrations with how the world seemed divided and unwilling to listen to one another.
They believed that if people could come together in person, they would realise how much they have in common.
Heard Storytelling is harnessing the power of people’s lived experiences to help communities grow closer.
The company’s co-founder, Caroline, believes that storytelling is a vital tool for deepening connections and creating understanding between people.
“We want to create a world where everyone feels heard and valued,” said Caroline. “Storytelling is one way we can achieve that.”
At the heart of Heard Storytelling’s approach are their live events, where people are invited to share their personal stories in front of an audience.
Their last event was at Feel Good Club to celebrate International Women’s day.
But venue’s do change – so be sure to check their website for their next events. You can do that by clicking here.
These events create a space where people can be vulnerable, honest, and open with each other, and where they can feel truly heard and understood.
But Heard Storytelling’s work goes beyond just live events.
They also offer training and workshops to help businesses and organisations create their own storytelling programs.
Through programs like Heard Connect and Heard Storytelling, the company empowers individuals to share their stories with their colleagues and peers, creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
According to Caroline, when working with businesses, it’s not uncommon for colleagues who have been sitting next to each other for years to have only engaged in superficial conversations about things like TV shows or dating.
However, when attending one of their programs, she’s seen people open up and share stories that they wouldn’t typically share in the lunchroom.
These stories have previously been about things as varied as experiences with racial profiling by the police, homophobic abuse, or sexual assault in the workplace.
Caroline believes that sharing these vulnerable stories helps colleagues connect on a deeper level.
Heard Amplified, also takes people’s stories and shares them with the world in creative ways such as exhibitions or installations.
Last year, they did a big exhibition for Manchester’s Pride event, where they recorded and showcased stories of 20 individuals from the LGBTQ community in iconic commercial windows throughout the city.
Heard Storytelling are also planning to launch a podcast in a few weeks, although they don’t have an exact release date yet.
When asked how they create a safe and inclusive space for people to share their stories, Caroline emphasises the importance of creating an environment where individuals feel comfortable and supported in sharing their highly personal experiences.
Caroline believes that storytelling is a powerful tool for building empathy and understanding and that it can help to create a more compassionate and connected society.
“Storytelling allows us to see the world from someone else’s perspective,” she says. “It helps us to understand each other better, and it reminds us that we’re all connected.”
They create a safe space for people to share their stories, without fear of judgement.
“When we work with storytellers, we always want them to feel as safe as possible.
“We start with an outline of the project so people really understand what they’re signing up for. We always ask for their permission to share their images and their story. And we always double-check with them before the project goes live, so they completely understand what they’re putting out to the world.”
Caroline’s organisation also has a safeguarding policy that everyone must sign before participating in any events or projects.
The policy ensures that everyone feels safe and respected, and that there is a pact of confidentiality among all participants.
“We create a pact between everybody in the room,” Caroline said. “It’s usually things like ‘whatever happens in the room stays in the room’, and that we are respectful of people’s languages. We’re really open about things such as saying that there’s nothing that could be body shaming, homophobic, or transphobic.”
Caroline’s organisation is making a real impact in the community, and she hopes that by amplifying unheard voices, they can create positive change.
“Our whole point is to help to amplify unheard voices,” Caroline said. “We want to make those unheard voices feel like they have a voice even after they’ve shared with us. By doing so, we can create real change and make the world a more inclusive place.”
In the past, the company noticed that a certain type of person was dominating the storytelling space, often individuals who were confident and used to having their voices heard.
To address this issue, Heard Storytelling decided to focus their flagship events on stories from underrepresented groups.
These events will provide a platform for individuals who may not have had the opportunity to share their stories in the past.
The first event was held on International Women’s Day, and Heard Storytelling plans to hold additional events highlighting voices from the LGBTQ+ community, Black History Month, and mental health awareness.
Caroline emphasised that Heard Storytelling has changed its approach to ensure that all voices are heard, and that they are specific in creating opportunities for underrepresented groups.
The upcoming events are open to anyone who wants to share a story about their life and experiences.
“We’ve changed how we run our events, so we’re really specific with making sure that all voices get heard,” Caroline stated.
“For those events, there’s not really a theme other than come and share a story about your life that you feel like most represents you, that you would really like to be empowered enough to share with an audience.”
Heard Storytelling’s decision to create space for underrepresented voices is a positive step towards inclusivity and diversity in the events industry.
By providing a platform for individuals who may not have had the opportunity to share their stories before, the company is helping to amplify diverse voices and promote a more inclusive society.
But why is it important to share stories? We asked Caroline.
She said: “Sharing stories can be an incredibly empowering experience.
“It can be cathartic, especially for those who have experienced trauma. When people share their stories and are truly heard, they can walk away feeling empowered and validated.
“Many people share their stories with Heard Storytelling that they haven’t shared with anyone before.
“We’ve witnessed some of the most incredible stories that are deep and dark, but also fun and uplifting.”
But why do people feel comfortable sharing their stories with them?
The team believes that it’s because they create a safe and supportive space where people are truly listened to.
In today’s world, people are rarely seen or heard properly, even when talking with friends.
Heard Storytelling creates a space where people are properly listening, and this can make a huge difference.
It can help people feel like their story matters and that they’re not alone.
There will be people in the audience who can relate to the storyteller’s lived experience and find solace in the fact that other’s are going through the same thing.
When asked about the ideal dream for her platform years down the line, Caroline expressed her desire to take hard storytelling to difficult spaces and companies that align with their mission.
She emphasised the importance of amplifying what is already happening and reaching more people to help them feel heard and seen.
Regarding the selection of storytellers, Caroline explained that their process begins with research and reaching out to organisations that work in the specific area they are focusing on.
They also use social media shoutouts and their communication skills to find interesting stories.
If you feel you have an amazing story to tell, or want to get involved with their storytelling platform, you can reach out to them through social media (link below).
The selection of their storytellers is a crucial part of their process, and they are always on the lookout for interesting stories and unique perspectives.
Caroline encourages anyone who wants to be a part of their storytelling platform to reach out and connect with them on social media.