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Bending over backward on a global stage – I never imagined that it would be my connection with the expressive art of Bellydance that would finally give my voice a platform in the media to communicate my desire to champion seldom-heard communities.

The beauty of creation derives from the most unique of spaces and it is in some of the most bizarre of places where we also discover such soulful stories… for me dancing and moving my body has given me space to write with my head and create with my body as well as stumble on stories from performing in Shisha Bars to leading dance, expressive movement and digital story-telling workshops throughout communities!

Except that this wasn’t just getting into journalism through the backdoor it was quite literally bending over backward and not even having shoes on to break through the glass floor of the industry but shimmying into it until someone heard my story and more importantly, the voices of the “hard to reach” community I had shimmied up in.

Ironically this wasn’t a stint, it was just me expressing my soul story through a different language other than the words I most enjoyed writing on a page.

And whilst I had connected with an unusual type of communication it was this very form that finally got the world to hear me. People beyond my current echo chamber, an impact on the wider world, and a chance to share my story of a ‘mixed-race’ ‘young’ ‘impoverished’ woman who had been shunned and assaulted by society and only ever previously heard within the draconian darkness of making a ‘victim statement’ inside a courtroom.

But it was the flickering bright lights of the entertainment world that finally embraced me, albeit with the shackles that I presented a ‘rags to riches’ tale, the ‘cute, poor, curvy’ dancer and how these rich powerful men had plucked me out of the doldrums of society.

Fortunately, my “rough” background, growing up in a “broken family” and crime-infested area, had taught me how to adapt the way I strutted over challenges by staying connected with my own core values, my soul purpose. I could navigate the sumptuous sparkles of showbusiness with the same grounding that I could learn from the murky headlines which humans had cast over my head, not allowing them to cast a shadow on my spirit.

I had the grit and the glitz of a strong but fragile heart to guide me, I knew I could empathically hear and help others through my holistic storytelling.

By showcasing my own soulful story, I could demonstrate that I could sensitively narrate theirs. My primary medium has always been the written language whether that be on paper or setting up my own human rights blog (which incidentally became my next sideways step-ball-change into the journalism industry).

Yet, I always felt I was straddling two divisive worlds of rich and poor, segregated and secure, but actually very much like me – I reflected the light and shade of a sparkle… just like we all do regardless of our own stage make-up – we are comprised one perfectly imperfect gem.

Whether you see me as a refined jewel or an unpolished rock. That’s the beauty of telling any life story. It is one whole spectrum of a human which is the foundation of any story. The ebbs and flows, echoing the beautiful rhythms of nature, much like the Japanese Aesthetics of Wabi-sabi which appreciates the beauty of nature reflected by imperfections.

This is just one fragment of my own life story,  something I candidly share in my online content, published book, and in my regular newspaper, and magazine columns. I draw out themes that I feel are relevant in today’s times.

Whilst my burning fire to articulate stories creatively may have derived from my background, my east meets west and Yorkshire heritage and my own life experience acts as an internal prompt to challenge my own beliefs and more importantly to me, to empower others to share their lived experience.

For me this is the beauty of journalism, trying to decipher fact and fiction, conscious and subconscious bias, and utilising our skillset to embrace the responsibility of telling the truth of stories that need to be heard. Challenging ourselves, querying those of whom we are institutionalised to listen to, and always investigate all of the ‘stage wings’ to a story.

I love ‘slow news’ much like the meditative art monks adopt to artfully make a cup of ‘Cha’ or a plunge of a teabag if you’re me.

The simple power of the human story is discovered when we mindfully listen to the stir of the tea leaves blending with the hard water, combined with the complexity of accurately articulating that story so that it is consumed by the desired audiences which makes the power of the story so important.

Our own stories are infused in a complex swirl that sometimes we ourselves don’t understand, but our responsibility as narrators is to navigate the facade of the chunky mugs, delicate China cups, and plastic flasks whilst also delving into anyone’s unique blend of tea leaves.

As journalists and storytellers we not only have the honour of sipping on plenty of varieties of tea but we must also carefully remove the froth and find a way of serving that perfectly imperfect beverage to the audiences we want to digest it.

Whilst writing, presenting, and dancing modes of communication resonate with my soul as a writer, I love creatively exploring new ways of sharing and telling such stories in a variety of mediums from vlogs to blogs, from podcasts to social media posts…

As the designated server, it is my responsibility that our guests connect with a cup of tea which prompts them to take a pause from the rush of the rat race and reflect into the glimmering liquid of the perfectly brewed cuppa cha in front of them. A delightful design of glossy entertainment, with deeper undertones of flavours and a forceful embodiment of the truth.

We need space to create, to let our cluttered minds swirl and transcend into stillness to truly express our emotions which are too often stifled in our increasingly shouty and busy world. 

We can find creativity and deep story-telling is trashed as quickly as fast fashion and fad diets but the art of communication must not be lost because it fosters a deeper connection with ourselves, the world and with others. 

Read more from me:

THE ART OF LIVED EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNICATION THROUGH STORIES: From battling Dyslexia and Dyspraxia to blossoming as a Writer, 

Not only that, story-telling can teach us lessons from history, it can create change across the world and give us a greater understanding of a person’s lived experience.  But how do we do that? I’ll be speaking about that and more this week at The Future of Lived Experience: The third annual Institute of Community Reporters Conference #ICRCon2021: 

Book for free now:


Not only that, story-telling can teach us lessons from history, it can create change across the world and give us a greater understanding of a person’s lived experience.  But how do we do that? I’ll be speaking about that and more this week at The Future of Lived Experience: The third annual Institute of Community Reporters Conference #ICRCon2021: 

The Future of Lived Experience: The third annual Institute of Community Reporters Conference #ICRCon2021 

As Hayley Trowbridge, from People’s Voice Media who is organising the Institute of Community Reporters Conference The Future of Lived Experience storytelling, says: ”Community Reporting is basically a way of bringing people’s stories, experiences and ideas together so that we can collectively find ways to make the world around us a better place to be. Taking the time to listen to different perspectives – including ones that may challenge your own – is a way of understanding through empathy how different people experience the world differently. There is power in people’s experiences being described in their own words – a chance to really connect, person to person.”

More about the event here:

Everyone has a story to tell – we know this wholeheartedly, but right now, it also feels like everyone is asking for our stories and there is a risk of storytelling fatigue setting in.


  • How do we ensure that people who share their lived experiences are valued and that those experiences are treated as a valid form of data in their own right?
  • How does society, institutions and organisations – ourselves included – to get better a working with stories and using them to create change in communities across the UK and Europe?
  • How do we mainstream storytelling as a way of sharing learning, building relationships and bridging divides?

For the third annual Institute of Community Reporters (ICR) conference, we want to explore these questions further and open-up a conversation about the future of lived experience storytelling.


On the 2nd June, different speakers, facilitators and change-makers will be exploring topics such as:

  • How we and other organisations can work better with stories and the people who share them
  • The types of spaces that are secure enough for authentic storytelling to take place
  • The role of lived experience in achieving social justice #ICRCon2021

 #ICRCon2021 and If you want to follow or tag People’s Voice Media in any posts, we’re @peoplesvoice on Twitter, and @Pe0plesVoiceMedia on Facebook.


Sophie Mei Lan – Multi-Platform Journalist, Author, and Content Creator specialising in Mental Health & Wellbeing, Community Reporting, Inclusivity, and Digital Enterprise. 

Sophie Mei Lan is a multi-award-winning (NCTJ- Accredited / PG Dip) multi-platform Journalist, Writer, and Online Content Creator with a passion for creatively sharing seldom-heard stories, utilising traditional and digital mediums to investigate and communicate with skill and soul in an engaging way to serve audiences near and far.

She has made and presented documentaries for Channel 4 News, ITV News, and BBC News, as well as working freelance as a journalist nationally for the likes of Mirror Online, HuffPost, Metro, and The Big Issue North and locally for regional newspapers, BBC Sheffield, Leeds, and Manchester.

Sophie writes weekly newspaper columns, covering topics of specialism such as Mind and Body Fitness, Northern life, and Entrepreneurship as well as writing social affairs features for magazines.

She also has her own blogs, vlogs, digital magazines, and community enterprises with a following of 100k+ and more than 24 million views, demonstrating her ability to work across platforms in the most engaging way to connect with a range of audiences online and offline.

As a result, Sophie has had a holistic wellbeing book published and appears extensively on TV, Radio, and Online as a spokesperson on a range of issues from mental health and disability to single motherhood and social enterprise.

In 2019 Sophie won a PR Week/ Third Sector Campaign of the Year Award for an Anxiety vlog she made which went viral, reaching two billion people worldwide, beating off multi-million-pound advertising campaigns, and in 2020 she went on to win Blogger of the Year.

Here are some of Sophie Mei Lan’s main accolades:


  • Post-Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism (University of Salford, MediaCity)

  • National Council for Training of Journalist (NCTJ) Accredited (and award-winning)

  • BA Hons in Philosophy and Italian with Social Sciences (University of Manchester)

  • Other Qualifications: Mental Health (Level 3) and Personal Training, Yoga and Dance

  • 5 A-levels and 13 GCSEs in foreign languages, English Lang/Lit and Ethics


  • NCTJ Awards for Excellence: Scoop of The Year Award and Campaign of the Year Award

  • Amnesty International Human Rights Media Award

  • Highly commended: IRN Commercial Radio Award and The Guardian/ The Observer Student Media Award

  • Blogger of the Year 2020

  • PR Week/ Third Sector Campaign for Good Award 2019

  • Digital Enterprise Top 100 Winner 2021 and Business Advantage Award 2019

  • Top 10 Parent Vlogger 2018


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