October 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

I will be chairing the third lecture in the series of ‘Talking of Peace’, this Thursday 29th October 2015 at 7:30pm in York.

The speaker is Kat Craig,  and her topic is Britain’s War on Terror at home and abroad – making the world a safer place?

Kat is Legal Director of the Abuses of Counter-Terrorism team at the human rights organisation, Reprieve.

The full program for the series is listed below.

7.30am, Thursday 29 October 2015, Quaker Meeting House on Friargate (off Castlegate).

Please Note: due to extensive building works in the neighbourhood of the Meeting House, the bottom end of Friargate is closed for a considerable period.  It is therefore necessary to approach from Castlegate rather than Clifford St.  Also the cycle rack in Friargate has been removed by the builders so cyclists will need to use one of the other racks in the Castlegate area.


Invitation to a series of Peace Talks: Thursdays in Autumn 2015

1st Oct: Faith, Power & Peace – Creating peace by peaceful means

Diana Francis, Trainer in Conflict Transformation, & Past President of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation

15th Oct: Security and the Dispossessed – How the military & corporations are shaping a climate-changed world

Steve Wright, Reader in Applied Global Ethics at Leeds Beckett Univ

29th Oct: Britain’s War on terror at home and abroad: making the world a safer place?

Kat Craig, Legal Director of the Abuses in Counter-Terrorism team at Reprieve

12th Nov: Reimagining Security: an alternative approach to the UK’s national strategy

Celia McKeon, Assistant Secretary, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RL

7.30 – 9.00pm

Retiring collection

For more details: tel 01904-624065

or e-mail: peacenetwork@yorkquakers.org.uk
or see www.yorkquakers.org.uk 

Two courses in Birmingham coming up

May 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’m really looking forward to co-facilitating these two innovative courses in Birmingham later this year. If you’ve never been to Woodbrooke, it’s a beautiful oasis in Birmingham, easily reachable by public transport.

Bookings now being taken – click on the links below for pricing and booking details.

24 – 26 June (with Maud Grainger): Resilience in Ourselves and Our Communities

In this participatory course, we will be considering resilience; in ourselves and others as well as resilience in communities. Can we build resilience or plan to be resilient? We will reflect on our own experiences and look at scenarios where communities have responded to a situation (e.g. a flood or a riot). This course will take into account current events as well as opportunity to discuss situations in your area if you are willing to share these examples.

21 – 23 October (with Judith Peacock): Negotiating Permanent Change

This course is for professional practitioners as well as those with a personal interest; CPD Certificate available. The past decade has resulted in dramatic, irrevocable change that has affected our lives and our expectations for the future. Financial shifts, environmental changes, reduced security, ageing, and lowered expectations for our children and ageing relatives have left many of us feeling anxious, as well as shaken our faith. This practical, hands-on workshop is to help us share our feelings and examine our responses. Discussion, writing and art exercises can help us reflect, generate new options, and respond with a little more faith and resilience.

Both courses are at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham.


Questions of purpose

March 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

I heard recently about a religious community which was facing fundamental questions about its purpose.

The tension seemed to be around those who saw the community primarily as a worshipping community which also offered courses and retreats; and those who wanted a course-and-retreat venue run by a group of people who happen to live in a religious community together.

By the sound of it, there were enough folk alive to the issues to enable a careful debate to arise. Communities like this (and others such as self-build groups, housing co-ops and other peer-led groups) require a level of leadership skills, conflict skills and self-awareness/self-management above what is normally taught in our current society.

Fundamental questions about purpose are the reality of life in organisations, networks, and within any community which organises around a central vision. In the best of such organisations, these questions are never definitively answered for all time (‘future-proofed’, to use the jargon). They may be answered for a year ahead, or five years, but by then a more substantial look at ‘Where do we want to be heading’ will be needed.

Answering questions about future mission depends – more than we sometimes care to acknowledge – on the personal preoccupations of the people currently in the organisation. In a contemporary religious community with a membership which changes over the space of a decade or so, this is perhaps more explicit. But in the larger organisations too, in my experience the interests and passions of the current staff play as much a role as the more objective factors identified through, for example, a SWOT analysis.

So long as this subjectivity is acknowledged, it seems a fair compromise. After all, it is the present membership and staff who will be tasked with bringing the mission into fulfilment.

If the organisation depends on attracting new members, however, then the more the organisation is a collection of people doing their own thing, the more complex it will be to engage others into the enterprise. Almost as complex, perhaps, as facing the conflicts arising when members are driven by competing purposes.

As the saying goes: by all means trust in God – but don’t forget to tie up your camel.

Bringing some truth into the light

December 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

It seems appropriate to post a seasonal reminder of some positive things that are happening. It’s a personal collection, of course, and for some of the stories the good news is the shining of light on the forces which oppress or undermine human fulfilment.

Thank you to all those I’ve worked with over this year, it has been inspiring to see and support your work and your aspirations for the future. One shift in professional development is to move from seeing yourself as the hero, to instead seeing your clients as the real heroes of the piece; and that more and more seems my experience in the work that I do.

So, those positive news stories:

Naming the past: the secrets of Brazil’s military dictatorship. How fitting that the report should be introduced to the media by Brazil’s current president Dilma Rousseff, herself a torture victim under the country’s military dictatorship

But of course we don’t need Truth Commissions in the UK, surely? Find out here about the work of Scotland’s Poverty Truth Commission.

Though there is much more the Church of England could do (for example, joining the disinvestmnet from fossil fuels movement), here’s the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking up about hunger in the UK; and news of the Church’s first female bishop.

News of an online archive of art by people with mental health problems; and the Guardian’s own Christmas appeal on challenging the stigma of mental health.

Amnesty International UK is highlighting the UK’s complicit role in torture and illegal rendition; and here are some of Amnesty’s own good news stories.

Two images to finish with:

First, a stunning info-graphic on the numbers which make up the internet – such as the number of tablets and smartphones sold each day around the world, the number of e-mails sent, the number of sites hacked…

And second, all the water in the world is just a tiny drop on the world’s surface; no wonder it’s such a precious resource, if only we knew it.

With best wishes for 2015,


Supporting wikipedia

November 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

How often do you use Wikipedia? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day?

I make a donation once a year, recognising its invaluable contribution to our working and social lives (if only to get us started on an inquiry or research topic!), and in honour of its mission of making available to everyone in the world all the information in the world. I thought others might be interested in donating too.

I don’t get deluged with e-mails as a result, just a brief thank-you and an invitation next year to donate again; and it feels good to support this piece of the global commons.

Applications now open: Postgraduate Certificate in Defending Human Rights

August 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I was privileged this year to convene an online Module on Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations. the Module was part of the Centre for Applied Human Rights‘ Postgraduate Certificate in Defending Human Rights.

The Centre is an amazing department at the University of York, distinguished by its applied approach to promoting and protecting human rights around the world, and its annual protective fellowship scheme for at-risk Human Rights Defenders.

The Centre is aiming to run the three Modules again this coming academic year.

You may know of colleagues in your networks and partner organisations who you think would benefit from joining the course? It’s specifically targeted at those who are already working in human rights defending and who want to build their knowledge and practical skills needed for effective human rights work under challenging circumstances.

  • A part-time programme designed for human rights defenders and related practitioners, running from September 2014 to July 2015
  • Scholarships available to cover 50% of fees
  • Online teaching by tutors and guest lecturers with practical field experience
  • Modules in International Human Rights Law and AdvocacyWorking Safely: Managing Risk and Strengthening Protection, and Leading and Managing Effective Human Rights Organisations.
  • Modules can be taken individually; or the whole course offers a Postgraduate Certificate in Defending Human Rights
From Luisa Perez, one of last year’s participants: “I already started to recommend this course, one of the most useful trainings I have taken. Thanks again for making it happen and please keep this great contribution to the Human Rights movement.” Luisa Perez, Protection International.


Accredited Supervision Skills training, Edinburgh

June 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Scottish Mediation Network have commissioned me to deliver this two-day programme to further SMN’s objective of promoting quality assurance in mediation, and towards developing a register of accredited mediation supervisors as part of a specified competency framework.

For freelance supervisors and those working or volunteering as supervisors within mediation services – whether in Scotland or elsewhere.

Download the course flyer.

22 and 23 September 2014, Edinburgh.

£240, SMN members £220.

Accredited by the College of Mediators (12 CPD points).

To book, contact carol@scottishmediation.org.uk or call 0131 556 1221.

Quakers, Slavery and Climate Change

June 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’m speaking in York on Monday 21 July.

Quakers, Slavery and Climate Change

Learning from 18th Century American Friends’ journey to abolitionism: parallels for our responses to climate change

This is as a result of some personal research I’ve been doing over the last couple of years. My aim has been to examine how an organisation and its communities made a fundamental internal change over an issue which every member was connected to, directly or simply as a citizen of a society in which slavery was embedded. I hope that there is enough similarity between the two contexts to draw some useable suggestions for approaches and ways forward, today, in responding to climate change.

Chaired by Danielle Walker, Director, Friends Provident Foundation

Monday 21 July, 7.30 pm, Friargate Quaker Meeting House, Friargate, York, YO1 9RL

Copy of my paper here: Quakers, Slavery and Climate Change.

Contact me for more information or to respond to the paper: 07986 016804,  john@johngray.org.uk




Training courses for 2014

December 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

This year has seen a very successful return of open supervision skills training courses – programmes ran in Manchester, Edinburgh and London. I also ran a workshop at the Midlands Mediation Network in early December.

Here’s a flavour of the feedback:

  • I felt comfortable to share my views with the rest of the group which I don’t normally feel able to do; so I was definitely more vocal and this was down to John’s training style and relaxed atmosphere. Brilliant!
  • [It put] depth to the structure I already have in place, to make the process more meaningful and productive for all involved.
  • A very well thought out day with a great mixture of learning tools.
  • This was excellent. John brings so much wisdom, respect, balance and thoughtfulness to the training. Just about as good as it gets!

And from a post-course e-mail:

“I gained a great deal from the day and loved the way in which you managed the needs of us all so calmly and peacefully (a strange word to use for this purpose, but that’s the environment which you created).  The way in which you gave us info – instead of the usual constant brainstorming and discussion to get to the same result but more slowly(!) – was much appreciated and has enabled me to focus on key issues which I will need to raise with the Trustees of Mediation Bucks when we continue discussions about how I will work with them as a supervisor – thank you.”  Jackie Miller.

Here are my plans for training in the coming year – expressions of interest welcome, so that I can keep you informed:

  • Supervision skills either the Midlands or the South-West, depending on interest; in London; and in Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • An advanced supervision course, for those who want to really deepen their practice; likely to be in London and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Reflective Practice
  • Innovation and creativity for leaders, managers and practitioners

All these courses will carry CPD points, accredited by the College of Mediators

E-mail to register your interest, especially if you want to influence the location of any of these courses; and sign-up to this blog, as details of all courses in 2014 will be promoted here.

Training dates announced

November 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

My Supervision Skills course for supervisors of mediators is running again as an open programme.

For more information and details of how to reserve your place, download the following brochures:

Edinburgh 21 November 2013

London 29 November 2013

This one-day programme is accredited by the College of Mediators (6 CPD points).

Feedback from previous courses:

  • “I felt comfortable to share my views with the rest of the group which I don’t normally feel able to do; so I was definitely more vocal and this was down to John’s training style and relaxed atmosphere. Brilliant!”
  • “I was particularly impressed with the sensitivity and knowledge that John brought to his role as facilitator and the way he supported each participant to find their own voice.”
  • “I really enjoyed the content, delivery and encouragement. I feel positive about becoming a supervisor.”
  •  “I feel that John is really skilled at enabling creativity and also clarity – I always feel much ‘freer’ after a coaching session.”
  •  “Relaxed contributions created by John made contributions easy.”

I’m really looking forward to running these programmes again; hope you can join me in London or Edinburgh.

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