Quaker Listening Spaces

Alistair Heslop from Restoring Relations gives an update on recent Quaker listening Spaces, and upcoming opportunities to join a taster session.

A Quaker Listening Space (QLS) is an opportunity for people to come together in a facilitated space to share experiences and thoughts to better appreciate and understand a situation or topic. In a listening space we don’t make decisions, look for solutions or hold a debate. We simply listen and explore to gain a better understanding of the wider truth – welcoming diversity of views and experiences.

In 2023, Restoring Relations’ first year of running QLS, around sixty Friends took part in our online sessions and we held two in-person sessions for Area Meetings. Feedback has been positive and sixteen people went on to join our QLS facilitator training programme.

We continue to run our online Quaker Listening Space taster sessions. The upcoming sessions in March and April are on the theme of ‘dealing with difficulties lovingly’. If you would like to join one of these sessions, you can find more and register via the Restoring Relations website. If you know people who might like to join a taster session, please forward this email to them – your help in spreading the word about our work would be much appreciated. In Central England, Caroline Gibbs of Solihull Meeting has been involved – details via the blue membership book.

Last year, we provided direct support to three Meetings experiencing damaging conflict and acted as a sounding board to others. We hope that over time as more Meetings and Friends use a listening approach to deal with the early stages of conflict the need for restorative dialogue and mediation will diminish.

We are supporting a number of Area Meetings establish or re-establish groups that can help their Local Meetings and neighbouring meetings deal with difficulties and conflict. If this is something your AM is doing or considering, we would be very happy to explore how we might be able to help. We are looking forward to the coming year and in a small way contributing to peace building in a troubled world.