Circlewise is a community interest company committed to supporting individuals, groups, schools, organisations and the community by building life skills in communication and empathy through circle practices, sometimes referred to as ‘The Way of Council’. We provide facilitated listening circles alongside support, training and resources to promote: compassionate communication; social, emotional and mental well-being; empowered and relational learning; and nature inspired ways of relating. Circlewise was founded in 2020 by Heidi Rose in collaboration with Chukumeka Maxwell (Founder of Action to Prevent Suicide) and soon afterwards was joined by Sam Kouzarides and Judy Clark. We now have three (soon to be four) directors: Heidi Rose, Sam Kouzarides, Ambă Lucy Chenery (and Andrea Gameson).
The work has grown organically out of the personal passion and lived experience of Heidi Rose in the power of listening circles to transform and connect:
“I left school questioning my worth, believing I had nothing of value to say. No child should step into adulthood thinking this about themselves. Later in life, I was fortunate to have the experience of living in the Ojai Foundation, a retreat centre in California where “The way of council” is practised and taught. In circle, I learnt that my voice was valuable and that I loved hearing others stories; I was given space to be listened to and heard. It wasn’t just my voice, this was a space where every voice was valued and where differences were celebrated. Being part of projects that took this practice into schools and witnessing the impact it had on the students involved was a life-changing experience for me. I said to myself: ‘this is what I want for my children, this is what I want for all children, all people.’ This became my mission and what still drives me every day.”
— Heidi Rose
Circlewise has ongoing collaborations with a number of local organisations including Goodwill in Action to Prevent Suicide https://www.goodwillatps.org.uk/, and Stories For Change (https://www.theatreofawakening.co.uk/our-stories), as well as all our collaborations with local schools and colleges. We have a residency at The Glade. (https://thewoodland.co/the-glade/), a beautiful outdoor space in Dartington woods, and facilitate regular circles there around the fire. We also have a sister organisation, Circle Ways (https://www.circleways.org/), who are based in the US.
In the long term, our mission it to make sitting in a circle and sharing stories around a fire—in a classroom, at work or with friends and family—the norm in our culture, as it is in many indigenous cultures and as it was for us not so many generations ago.