Posted by: nickgardham | May 5, 2011

First Training Event

IMAG0089  “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

On the 21st April 2011, the first group of 10 Parishioners out of the 25 who had expressed interest in being ‘Community Listeners’ as part of the Neighbourhood Challenge came together to take part in the ‘Introduction to Listening Matters training’.

The event started with a warm welcome to all. You could sense a real interest and intrigue about the potential of this programme to impact not only across the 2500 Parishioners who will be listened to that live in the Newark-on-Trent area (a major project in itself) but the wider community as well!

The importance of building trust, respect and relationships

The event started with a basic explanation of the work of RE:generate. People were fascinated by the way in which the work was rooted in a deep and respectful listening, that the work was about building trust, respect and relationships and that people will be the driving force behind change in their respective communities. You could sense that they saw this as something different.


The session followed with an introductory exercise designed to get people to think on their own called ‘Photospeak’. A selection of thought provoking images were laid out across the room and people were asked to choose an image that spoke to them. People chose a range of images that meant something to them and for a range of reasons. Some images were chosen because of the way people were personally feeling, others picked them because the subject matter was important to them, some picked them as it reminded them of an event or the past. We then encouraged people to speak to each other 1:1 and explain the reasons why they chose the picture they did. People locked into conversation and importantly the listening was sparked. People listened to the other persons reasons, feelings and thoughts as to why the chose the picture they did. The room was locked into deep and meaningful engagement.


After sharing 1:1, we asked the group to share the reasons as a group. Normally, in a group situation people freeze when asked to speak. The exercise, starting with on your own, then 1:1 grew people’s confidence. They were more open to share, and engage in a dialogue in more public space. Importantly, they were talking about what mattered to them.

It was wonderful to hear from one member of the group who said that, ‘in all the time i’ve been in Newark I have had to support my children who are now grown who struggle from learning difficulties. I have always felt alone and no-one has ever listened to me before. I have never had the chance to share how I feel like this before’.

We then asked people to put all there photos together in the middle of the room. This created a very powerful centre to the room, it was the photos of peoples thoughts and feelings.

The group were then introduced to the Listening Matters system. Time was taken for people to reflect on what they had experienced in the first session and how the importance of listening to people’s thoughts and feelings allowed for trust, respect and relationships to grow. This was then shown by Stephen Kearney, (RE:generate, CEO), demonstrating the Listening Matters system with a member of session. From this demonstration, it was clear that from an open conversation about the things that people love about their communities, their concerns, visions and projects people can be animated into take action around the things that matter to them.

Following the demonstration each person was asked how many people they could listen to from their friends and families to start to grow the Listening Matters network.

To draw the session to a close an evaluation was held which clearly demonstrated how positive people felt both during and after the session.

What went well:

  • Interesting information from Ruth
  • Easy to talk
  • Context relaxed
  • Photos a good stimulus to make contact
  • Groups very interesting – people have so much to offer when you listen
  • Normally we meet in the porch before church, we really got to know each other
  • Good to know what people are thinking
  • 🙂  Exciting!
  • Learning about people’s skills and experience

What could be better:

  • Warm up games
  • Pub venue

To see more photos from the event see the ‘Photos’ section of this blog.

PS. Thank you NESTA again for the camera – we have used it for these photos!



  1. It is very encouraging to see that things are progressing in a positive manner, and exciting to think of what could be achieved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: