A few weeks ago I had my own words read out to me (and many others) at a conference. Now it’s always a bit weird when someone quotes something you have said but on this occasion it was on a whole new level ….
A while back I wrote a blog that wasn’t my usual type of blog, it was called Falling through the gaps and it was a very personal account of a friend’s miscarriage. The reason I wrote it was that I felt so saddened by what had happened that I really felt I needed to express this in some way. Then out of the blue I received a tweet from Kath Evans (Head of Patient Experience at NHS England) asking if she could read my blog at an upcoming conference that both she and I were speaking at. It seemed that people had been talking about and reading my blog about my friend’s traumatic event and it had become part of a chain of events to create change.
It was one of the strangest and most emotional experiences I have had in a long time, sitting and listening to someone else read my words. I watched as the people in the room fell very silent and listened to Kath and saw the effect of my friend’s story on the people listening. It was the first time I had heard the words spoken aloud and it was as if I was immediately transported back to the day I wrote it, all the emotion of saying goodbye to a little boy that never lived came flooding back to me.
I have written so many blogs since I started my social media journey and as anyone who blogs will tell you we never really know where our words go, who they affect and the ripples they cause. I have always measured social media success by the power of one, if my words have an effect on just one person then they will have had an effect on one person! However that day, sat in that room, listening to Kath and watching the reaction I was very humbled that my words touched so many and that my friend’s story really was being heard.
I told my friends story not because I wanted to make change, not because I wanted anyone to listen but because it was a story that needed to be told. The events that led to “falling through the gaps” really did shake my very core and there was a voice inside of me that had to be given the chance to speak.
Social media is a powerful thing, it allows many people to tell their stories and gives them the opportunity to be heard. If we listen, and I mean really listen, we can learn and we use these stories to act and to make change. As I left the conference that day Kath gave me a copy of NHS Improving Quality “A review of support available for loss in early and late pregnancy” My friends story cannot be attributed to single handedly bringing this about but it is one of many stories that have been listened to and will result in change and improvement and somehow this makes this event make sense. We can never change what has happened but we can listen, learn and improve… My hope is that as a result of the ripples that were made using social media we will be able to catch a few of those falling through the gaps.