October 2017

AOH Training 4th - 6th October 


"It's tough out there.  All of us working in Morecambe and Lancaster know just how tough our current environment is.  Yet there are some new shoots growing, new ways of being and working together and that's what we have come here to cultivate"  

So began the 2nd Art of Hosting Training in Morecambe and Lancaster in October 2017.

 "it's time to step off the roller coaster and find others willing to step into the rough track with you and carve out another furrow.  It's only the start of this journey of HEALTH AND WELLBEING IN MORECAMBE AND LANCASTER.  We don't yet know the what or the how of this growing social movement, but we do know this is a beautiful place to be and there are some wonderful people here ready to bring in the changes we need in our towns and across  the Bay."  

45 new participants came together to train in the Art of Hosting, and Harvesting conversations that matter.  


To learn some new tools and practices;  to have conversations about how things might be different;

To make sense of them, and then make some plans together;

 To build community, strengthen relationships, and break the loneliness that can stop us moving forward. 

" The world doesnt need more experts, it needs more good people.

What will your footprints and fingerprints leave behind" 


Check in: What do you care about that brings you here today ? 

We used circle practice to hear everyones voices and realised we were a very diverse group of people.  Some  worked in substance misuse, some were ex drug users.  Some worked in schools or with children and young people, others in the police force.  Some worked with communities, some were residents from different communities.  

We were artists, local councillors, disability activists, Drs, nurses, mindfulness trainers, poverty truth commissioners, time bank organisers.  All passionate about making a difference, reaching out into local communities to work with them rather than for them and closing the equality and health gaps that exist at the moment 

World Cafe: Our first conversation was about the potential we were seeing in Morecambe for a more humane, more connected, healthier community.  We saw the potential of developing alternative communities, who often have their own solutions but we need a new way of listening to them. We recognised there are so many good people here who want Morecambe to succeed. We acknowledged our amazing resources and natural beauty and discussed the possibility to change the way we fund and measure projects by changing the power dynamics.

​Jon took us through some basics on harvesting, making sense of and working with the results and data that comes out of conversations and invited some of us to get some practice in harvesting in this training space.  He talked about the purpose of harvesting and how to plan for it.  How to collect  and make sense of all the visible reports, photos, records, suggestions, ideas, as well as how to capture some of the more invisible things that happen in community conversations  like building communities and developing community confidence.

Following a delicious lunch provided by Stanley's, we went into a teaching from Linda contrasting two worldviews: the mechanistic system and the living system,  a model for thinking about how we operate and what we pay attention to. What would our meetings be like if we moved from instructing to hosting, from looking for answers to finding really good questions, from jumping into action to creating conditions for good things to emerge?

This was followed by a conversation that invited people to stand on a spectrum ( a line ) to show the diversity of views that existed in the room in response to some simple questions.  We were playing with the idea of "how do you put yourself in another's shoes"?  How do we begin to see the world from other perspectives, often from perspectives we don't agree with? 

We used Appreciative Inquiry to interview each other in small groups of 3 about a time when someone fundamentally shifted how we saw something.  We were enquiring into what it takes to understand and see "the other's" point of view and what we might need to let go of in order to do that.  We found that what works best is to:

  • Appreciate that everyone is doing their best 
  • Trust that the work I do will be secure ( cutting funding has a ripple effect ) 
  • Let go of the need to know 
  • Be braver 
  • Hear and experience how other people think and feel 
  • Give people more time
  • ​Believe in myself more 


We closed our first day together by asking - what are you taking away from today?

Day Two  - ​Making Sense and Diving into Practice together  


We began Day Two with a harvest poem from the newly formed harvest team of Sue and Linda  revisiting some of the content of  yesterday.

     Be Braver

      Keep Calm 

      Stay fascinated

      Feel the need, not know the need

      I need to hear and experience how other people think and feel

      Open up and more more confident

      Recognise self worth

      The older I get the less I know


      Respect Others

      Appreciate that everyone is doing their best

      Provide the space to listen

      Believe in self

      Let go of the need to know ​


​Then we checked into the day with a question about gratitude.


 "If I had an hour to solve an urgent problem,  I would spend the first 50 mins working out the right question"​​

Mike offered a little teach on powerful questions and we talked about the  importance of enquiring into the question to see what was really at stake, not just settling with a 'that will do" question.   A good question will stop you in your tracks make you really open up and dig deep.   We played the question game with our own questions and were surprised at how they changed when we really dove into the meaning and purpose of our questions.  ​


What are the hot topics for Morecambe Bay that we need to explore right now? 


Round 1. 

Children and young people's emotional health and wellbeing

Important to give voice to children and young people in all decision processes

Whole system approach - 3rd sector AND NHS

Having a trauma influenced approach to our work 

Mental Health Champions being recruited, please join 


There is lots of natural beauty but we don't look after it we tolerate too many big weeds

Need to raise pride and self esteem, show that someone gives a shit 

Education - Enforcement - Media

Beauty surrounds/Health abounds


​How to protect assets from gentrification 

Need a network of agencies to find out what and where 

Housing is a big issue, change comes form grass roots, need to give voice to community 


poor stock, hidden issues of couch surfing 

​There are services but the community has no voice in this 

Should find out more about experiences of landlords and services provided

Things are done to and not with people 

Do you like cake?

​Food helps to bring people together, it's a leveller and and entrance

We all love cake bring it to more meetings 

Good for bonding and good for your heart

Who and what helps me deliver my job ?

self worth, in the VCS we do it free and getting burnt out is possible

Are our skills valued?  I don't get much support

Lets talk more about us and them  

Round 2

Elderly Care

Our culture is family units, but the elderly are often outside of families

Caring profession is seen as lower class job, but a vocation for some

Can we connect young and old ( ie by Cinema sessions - Alex ) 

Making community led initiatives more sustainable

Space, location, access to buildings

It's vision and purpose that helps us succeed

Statutory services might help with sustainability 

What do people want to do with this?

Too much talking, need some action 

​It's important to start small, you might be the only one to do it 

Need to manage risk 

Parental responsibilities

​Not just a challenge in Morecambe

Postive role models and support needed

Parents not enjoying their children has a knock on effect 

Adult Literacy

Disempowering for employment, skills at work issue

% of people illiterate in the criminal justice system

Making assumptions

Fees will make it prohibitive 

Children School readiness

Understanding the foundation stage as a foundation 

Top down pressures and expectations do not match up

​Environments are changing for children, sit still and don't move no longer appropriate



Linda and Andy offered a teach about how to design a good process.  They offered a model of how groups work, first they come up with lots of ideas, this is divergence.  Often people want to rush to solutions, but helping groups to stay in the middle space of emergence ( groan zone or grown zone ) is important.  You can design for action or convergence when the time is ready.  Think about the need and the purpose and really take some time to wrestle with this and come up with a good question that guides the conversation.  Make the invitation a juicy one and choose the right process to hold the conversation. Think about what you want to harvest and what information you want to collect and how you will show the results.  How can you involve more people in the design and the harvest and make it truly participatory ?  

This session invited people who had specific projects they wanted some help from the rest of us on to describe what they were doing and what help they were looking for.  6 projects put themselves forward and each of us chose a group to work with, offering advice and asking questions to help fill in the design template. Finally each of the project hosts reported back what had been really useful contributions and what their next steps were. 


Photos from day 2

Day 3 - welcome back community day 

We welcomed back 40 people from the first AOH training group in February.  

Andy opened the day by speaking about the purpose of us all coming together and the scale of the task in front of us.  

Here is a little video of the welcome and framing of our community day

Then we had a proper Morecambe and Wise Check In 

What brings you sunshine? 

What makes you wise? 

What does the Bay have to offer?

What is your part to play in why we are here today? 

World ( catch up ) Cafe 

We began to share the many stories and experiences of some of the people who had trained in February about where they had started to work together and how they had used the tools and techniques of hosting in their work.  We heard about new initiatives like the Comedy Fringe and Time banking, also about meetings that had really opened up a good dialogue and understanding between people because they had been organised in a different way.  

​Some of the participants from this training began to talk about where they could see themselves applying their learning and what projects they wanted to call as a result.   Lots of information was shared and new ideas generated, help was offered and received. .Coffee was drunk, cake was eaten and salsa was danced !!  

Opening the space for action together

In the afternoon a small hosting team opened space for conversation around projects that we wanted to do together, inviting people to work on specific ideas they would like to collaborate on.  9 projects were called and developed.

Where might we begin to collaborate to build a better Morecambe?

Supporting, developing this community of practice and social movement

Open cinema and cafe 

Build it and they will come - Frontier Land blot on the landscape - community pressure

Youth mindfulness in schools

Setting up a social befriending service

Councillors as community communicators, would it work?

Join the dots with string

To propose a Well recovery house in Lancaster/Morecambe - support and constructive criticism please

Working differently really living the art of hosting - what will public agencies be doing now ? 

Finally we checked out with a circle of commitments, everyone speaking their intention to what they offered to do now or to take away as an action from our time together.   The aim of this session was to really make visible the results of the three days and to show some of the places where people had real intentions to work collaboratively with each other.  People stepped in to support each other as they made their commitments and intentions real.


Photos from day 3


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