The Journey Begins

June 6, 2019 § Leave a comment

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


Slide presentation at Aidex Brussels this morning

November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

University of York Aidex workshop ppt used in my prsentation on behalf of the University of York at Aidex-Brussels earlier this morning (

Places available: Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations

April 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am thrilled to be convening a forthcoming online module on Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations. The module is part of a  Post-Graduate Certificate offered by the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York.

The module runs for ten weeks, beginning on 23 April 2014. Some scholarships may be available for non-OECD participants – click here for information.

The module will address the theory and practice of leading and managing in the human rights context, with the emphasis on effective leadership and management.

So the module’s topics include Leading others, leading yourself; Strategic planning and leadership; Creativity, innovation and the learning organisation; Governance and accountability; Organisational development and change; Programme and project management; Performance management; Fundraising and financial monitoring systems; and Globally Responsible Practice.

Sounds like a course for you, or for someone you know?

Places are still available on the programme, and it is possible to enrol for an individual module as a CPD student and without taking the whole Post-Graduate Certificate. For the current academic year 2013/14, tuition fees for each module are £420.

Click here for information on how to apply.

I am really looking forward to the course, and to the engagement with human rights practitioners from around the world.

Help! I’m running against Mo Farah this Sunday…

September 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

… help me raise more sponsorship money than him!
I’m running the Great North Run this Sunday. Mo is taking part too, though our respective start times means that there’ll be 10,000 other runners between him and me at the starting line.
I’m running for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, a charity close to my heart, especially given my Crohn’s flare-up this summer. I seem to be back to full fitness, thank goodness, and hoping for no problems on Sunday.
Mo will do the course in under an hour, but I’m expecting to need at least another 45 minutes or so to cross the finishing line.
Might this offer inspire you? If Mo and I both finish, and my time is quicker than his, I’ll refund to my sponsors all their donations on my Justgiving page – plus the gift aid! There, you can’t not donate now…
Otherwise, think of me on Sunday having the time of my life over those 13.1 miles. No, really – I can’t wait to get going.

Guest blogging: What is a low-carbon, sustainable community?

March 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

In 2011 Britain’s Quakers made a ground-breaking commitment to become a low-carbon sustainable community. Since then the national Quaker organisations, and Friends in their local meetings, have been encouraged to put this commitment into action.

I was at the Yearly Meeting in Canterbury at which this corporate commitment was made, and I’ve been following Friends’ progress since then, as well as wondering how to contribute to my own meeting in York.

So I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger on Woodbrooke’s Good Lives blog, posting three articles exploring the “Canterbury Commitment”.

Each article will explore one element of the commitment – Community, Sustainable and Low-carbon.

As well as my participation in Quakerism, I’ll be drawing on my sixteen years’ experience of management and consultancy in supporting individual and organisational change. I hope the blogs prove to be discussion pieces to support Friends and those who work in organisations as internal or external change agents.

The articles will appear weekly, starting on 20 March. I’ll post copies on my own blog, so to register to receive the postings please sign up to the Good Lives blog or sign up on my own blog.

Opportunity: an artistic Director to create Flushmob!, York 2013

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Creative / Artistic Director sought – Flush Mob!

Do you – or do you know someone – who has creative flair and vision, is bold and yet able to work sensitively to promote a charity for people who sit on the loo a lot?

The local organising group for this year’s Crohn’s and Colitis York Walk is seeking a Creative Director, to create a one-off piece of eye-catching street action amidst busy York shoppers – something that ideally could be filmed and go viral on the net. For Crohn’s and Colitis UK, a national charity for which supports people with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Where? When? Central York, 19th May 

If you’re interested in shaping an innovative and engaging piece of street action – one that could go viral on the net – we’d love to hear from you. 

Contact: Cath Mortimer 

Closing date for expressions of interest: 11th March 2013


Coaching as hospitality

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week I came across some quotes from Henri Nouwen about hospitality which seemed to me to speak very much also about one-to-one executive coaching.

“Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place … Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find their own.”

That sums up aspects of my own approach to working one-to-one with an individual: change can’t be forced, though it can be encouraged; it is not about changing to what I the coach wants, but rather according to the questions and priorities the client holds. And most specifically: the resources that people need lie within themselves, and my interest is in supporting those resources to surface, to be recognised and to be brought into use.

And how about this: “Hospitality wants to create emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free.”

I hesitate to imply that coaching sessions with me are about emptiness! But there is something here about removing the perceptions of how we think we ought to be, or how our boss or colleagues wants us to be; and instead finding our true voice, our own way – professional and effective, for sure; and also uniquely our own.

Community Mediation – Outcomes and Impact Assessment

February 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

With staff from Yorkshire Mediation Services, I am leading a session at the North West Mediation Network meeting in Manchester later this month.

In the spring of 2010, Mediation Yorkshire and I worked together to create an impact assessment framework in order to learn from the outcomes and impact of its work in mediating neighbour disputes. The framework was used on closed cases in Kirklees and Wakefield, and key messages emerged from the evidence for the service, for mediators, and for referrers to the service.

At the Network event, we’ll be talking about the framework we created together, and how we’re currently expanding the model to gather evidence of impact on referring agencies and funders.

For more information on the impact assessment that we created, e-mail me for a copy of the paper which emerged from the work: Challenges and opportunities in assessing the impact of neighbour dispute mediation.

The impact assessment framework generated interest within the UK community mediation sector, and was the subject of two articles in the online journal Mediation Digest. One article looked at the theory behind the development of the impact assessment framework, and the second article reviewed the outcomes for the mediation service.

I’m running for charity

August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

September update: on Sunday 16 September 2012 I ran the Great North Run half-marathon in Newcastle and South Shields. I was delighted to finish the distance!, never having run 13. miles before, even in training.

That I came 8,375th is a reflection not just of the numbers taking part (40,000 finished the course) but also of the participatory nature of the event – a joyous mix of individual challenges within a mass-participation experience. Thank you for all the messages of support I received.

I’m fundraising for two charities. Both are close to my heart – and in one case, my guts! If you would like to sponsor me, that would be fabulous. You may find yourself drawn to either charity depending on whether you know me more in a work capacity or as family/friend.

ODEF, the Oasis Development  Education Foundation, is the charitable foundation associated with the Oasis School of Human Relations. As you may know, much of my work is with Oasis; and supporting ODEF brings together several threads for me – my experiences of travelling and working in Africa, my link to Oasis, and my interest in global development issues. ODEF’s purpose is to seek out and respond to people and organisations which focus on issues affecting active citizenship, particularly in relation to women and children. More information about ODEF’s aims and activities can be found here on the Oasis website, and you can donate through that link or contact me for their account details if you’d rather not pay through PayPal.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK is a charity which has helped me and my family ever since my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease when I was 15. I really admire the work of the charity over the last 30 years, particularly its success in raising the profile of inflammatory bowel disease amongst health professionals as well as amongst the general public. Information abou Crohn’s and Colitis UK can be found here, and you can donate via their justgiving page here.

Thank you.

The 12 rules of impro

May 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am currently the lead facilitator of an Inquiry into Creativity within a international manufacture and retail company. The nine-month Collaborative Inquiry enables a closed group of 14 people from across the company – from front-of-house and production lines through to Directors and family owners – to explore how the company’s successful history of creativity can be maintained and strengthened in leaner economic times.

As well as facilitator I am also a co-Inquirer within the group. My intent within the current inquiry cycle is to take on the rules of improvisation theatre and make them a daily habit. This emerged from a fantastic session on Impro that my co-facilitator and Oasis colleague Claire Maxwell led at our most recent Inquiry session.

The 12 rules that sClairehe introducd are:

  1. Look beyond the words
  2. Make the other person look good – it’s not all about you
  3. Give information to your partner
  4. Don’t think
  5. Accept all offers – say ‘yes’
  6. Don’t block or deny others
  7. Be present in the here and how
  8. There’s no such thing as a bad idea
  9. Be flexible and be changed
  10. Trust the wisdom of your body
  11. Co-create – don’t script in advance
  12. Listen carefully and with an open mind

Within the last few days, I’ve had the chance to practice the following:

Make the other person look good – in a conversation with an expert in Appreciative Inquiry…

Be flexible and be changed – as part of a planning group overseeing 400 walkers in York arriving for a fundraising event…

Be present in the here and now – as I co-facilitated a group of managers on Oasis’s Tools for Change programme.

I’m not claiming any expertise – indeed, I’m recognising that I have much to learn from these impro rules which could benefit me in my personal as well as my professional life. Particularly they (for me) bring alive the principles of collaboration: the days of thinking that I can achieve anything alone are long gone in this complex and fast-changing world we live in,and without alliances one cannot hope to shape and enact effective responses for individuals and organisations.

So that’s the hypothesis!, and this Inquiry cycle offers me a chance to test the theory and to bring some at times much needed creativity into my daily relationships with others.

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