Many of you will know that we now have some trained and training facilitators who can work together to run conversation groups using the Transforming Conversation guidelines. These “pop up” groups which meet for a total of six sessions over two or three months, help people to converse in deeper and more meaningful ways than is usually possible in everyday conversations. The conversations can be based on any agreed subject matter and can take us onto many pathways. People often share their ideas, views, emotions and in the group can talk about anything from their own experiences. Because one of the “rules” we agree to is about confidentiality, this is a
safe space where anything can be explored including our faith or indeed lack of it (when this is appropriate).

After enjoying a slice of home-made cake and a coffee, the group is presented with the subject matter and a number of stimulus materials that they can look at, examine, read or think about. For ten minutes or so, there is silence while each person explores the items that interest them. The conversation then takes place after an agreement to abide by the guidelines discussed. These guidelines are used to ensure that the conversations take place in a safe and welcoming space. Nothing is off limits unless it is totally inappropriate or could cause harm to one or more of the participants. The facilitator will try to ensure that the agreed rules are abided by and may ask questions to help people to think further about the subject matter. The cofacilitator will track the conversation and share a short summary at the end.

Our theme for the current Cake & Conversation group is: “Journeys” and has led us to travel on many different roads! In each session we have focussed on different subheadings including: Daily journeys, holidays and days out, journeys into the unknown, and journeys into the future. Our conversations have ranged from those daily routine journeys to journeys into space and beyond. We have shared parts of our life stories together with some of our hopes, despairs, joys, worries, faith and a range of emotions, thoughts and ideas.

The group has been incredibly supportive to one another and some are already hoping that there will be further pop-up conversation groups when we finish our current one. I think that one of the most valuable things I have learnt through facilitating and joining in these conversations has been how to listen more deeply and respond with
curiosity and also to welcome the silences which give pause for thought. There will be future conversation groups so if you are interested in learning more about Transforming Conversation, or would like to know more about how to get involved in facilitating conversations, please do have a chat with me.
Chris Ware