• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Creative conversations provide route to wellbeing says Peter Thomas.

Ask Peter Thomas to empty his work case and the contents could be as varied as a collection of random keys, a set of photo-cards or a cluster of seashells. They seem to have little to do with promoting mindfulness.

However, each of these props are part of Peter’s unique, practical approach to getting employees from all sizes of firms to open up and talk about their feelings.

Through his business Happenings he works with businesses in the Yorkshire Dales and across the North of England, delivering conversational workshops and practical activities that help participants to overcome the daily struggles that we each face.

As an experienced third-party, Peter is often a useful ‘bridge’ for business leaders who, for whatever reason, discover that an independent facilitator is a good choice to achieve confidence and insight amongst employees. 

Peter is based in the picturesque village of Grassington, North Yorkshire, which is one of the filming locations for the TV series All Creatures Great and Small. Like most rural communities, it has its fair share of mental health issues, and Peter helps to deal with these with groups of all ages and types, including national and local businesses, schools and farming groups. Peter’s work also takes him to larger urban towns and cities across Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and the North East. 

Peter comments: “There’s a lot said about mindfulness and mental health, but I have a series of simple approaches that work very well.

“Wherever I am, and whoever is in a group with me, there is usually a central question or challenge: how can I get these people talking to me and each other? I use a range of familiar objects to generate conversations and personal insights.

“By focusing on a variety of everyday props as stimulus material, I unlock the silence and build the conversations which help people to find peace and resolve inner conflicts.”

“For example, I have a set of cards with pictures of doors on them. I prepare a table full of keys and ask people to pick a key to open just one of the doors, which for them will represent the past, present, or future. They then have to chat with each other to work out what they would do.”

Peter also runs sessions armed with sections of tree trunks and asks participants to focus closely on the annual rings of the tree.He explains: “I use this exercise to start a discussion about our roots, where each of us is from, and the branches and connections which are our networks.”

He adds: “This leads to a discussion about how wide or narrow the gaps are between the rings.

“I ask participants to imagine that the rings represent different periods of our lives. We all go through life when things are going really well and life is great, and we see growth in the wide rings and the narrow ones are the difficult times.

“Through these simple props, and the rich conversations that follow, I’m able to make participants more aware of mindfulness and trigger calming influences.”

Peter is a part time vicar, though the conversations that he facilitates don’t have a spiritual dimension. He says “I think that my experience as a vicar means that I’ve met and worked with all types of people in every type of situation, so I think I’m good at helping make people comfortable. But my work with groups is not usually spiritual. I have other channels for that.”

Peter concludes: “I use my sessions to help participants to find a different perspective on their lives, and find ways to be more mindful by using a technique of reflection, to help them look to a more positive future.”

By admin