Collaborative spaces for learning, sharing and connecting 

Upcoming Convenings

We have an evolving programme of events for 2023, both online and in person, exploring topics such as measurement, relational offsetting and the cost of living crisis, all – of course – with a relational lens. Make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter and follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date on what’s coming up.

On Friday 12th July, we’re hosting an in-person get together at the Button Factory in Birmingham and you’re invited!

The theme for the day is ‘Changing our Permissions‘. We’ll be exploring the norms, beliefs and rules that help and hinder us in putting relationships first in our communities, organisations and systems.

Together, we will: 

  • Celebrate the progress we, as a field, have made over the last few years in getting relationships onto the agenda

  • Move the conversation forward, unearthing the hidden, imagined and real rules that shape our ability to work relationally – and exploring how to navigate them

  • Do the important work of building relationships with one another, sharing encouragement, ideas and support

Key information:

  • WHEN: 10am to 4pm (and beyond!) on Friday 12th July
  • WHERE: The Button Factory, Birmingham, B1 3HH.
  • WHO: Everyone is welcome. If you’re curious about, or actively working to put relationships first in your community, organisation or system then this is an event for you! You don’t need to be an expert or to have engaged with our work before. 

If you’d like to co-host an event with us on anything to do with relationships and relationship-centred practice, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to hear from you

Ways to connect

Being a relationship-centred practitioner can feel lonely at times. But you are not alone! Across the UK and beyond, there’s an ever-growing network of brilliant individuals and organisations who all share a belief in the power of relationships. We’re here to help connect you up, helping us all to feel less alone and realise more than the sum of our parts.

The Relationships Map

Explore the Relationships Map to find others who are grappling with similar challenges or working in similar areas, and make new friends, allies and collaborators.


Take a look at our upcoming events – both online and in person – to learn from others, explore shared challenges, and share ideas and inspiration. 

Past Convenings

Case Maker Launch

On 22nd April Elizabeth Oldfield and Matt Lloyd-Rose were joined by a few of the brilliant people who shared their stories in the Case Maker, namely Sarah Yardley, Christine Frazer and Russ Bellenie. It was a warm, lively and engaging conversation, elevated by some brilliant questions from those who joined us. 

Illustration of three people holding the world

Towards a World of Good Relationships: LSE Lecture

On the 31st October 2023, David returned to the LSE to give a public lecture about the unfolding story of the Relationships Project. Kirsty McNeill, Gemma Mortensen and Professor Stephan Chambers offered reflections, and the audience shared a range of powerful comments and questions. Thank you to everyone who joined both in person and online.

Relationship-Centred Practice: Unpacking the how, what and why

On the 23rd November 2022, 80 Relationship-Centred practitioners came together in Newcastle to explore the how, what and why of relationship-centred practice. We were a varied bunch – thinkers, doers and enablers, from different sectors and disciplines, and with a wide range of skills and experiences, all bound together by a shared commitment to making relationships the first mile.  

Building relationships in an increasingly online world

For many, the internet pre-Covid offered a cold web – a mechanism for effecting transactions rather than for enabling a warm web of meaningful relationships. Since 2020, lots of us have learnt about how to deploy digital tools to facilitate purposeful connection. In this session, co-hosted by Grapevine and Refugee Council, we heard ideas and tips for building connections online

Relational Councils: Stewardship approach to tackling loneliness

On 10th October 2023, The Relational Councils Network gathered to learn from stewardship approaches to tackling loneliness in East Sussex and Barking and Dagenham 

Relational Networks

On 3rd October 2023, in partnership with Habitus Collective, we ran a practical and immersive session exploring how to become a Relational Network Builder and build a more powerful network by putting relationships first

Relationships Learning Network

On 21st September 2023 we hosted the first convening of the Relationships Learning Network, in partnership with the After Disasters Network. For those interested in joining the next one, please RSVP here

Relational Councils: Learning from Crisis

On the 12th July 2023, we were joined by Kate Cochrane, Head of Resilience for NHS Scotland, Paul Morrsion, Director of Homes for Ukraine, and Neil Denton, Co-Founder of the After Disaster’s Network to explore how top-down and bottom-up responses to crisis can effectively converge, and the lessons we can take forward 

Can a transactional approach to co-production ever be appropriate?

On the 15th June 2023, 85 of us came together to explore whether a transactional approach to co-production can ever be appropriate. Co-production has become something of a buzz word. Done well, it can transform outcomes, but too often co-production becomes a tokenistic mechanism for fulfilling commissioning requirements. 

Relational Councils: Sustaining the Care

On 16th May 2023, a subset of the Relational Councils Network came together to draw out learning from the community response to the cost of living crisis. We were joined by David Barclay who stewarded the Warm Welcome Campaign

Book Club: The Good Life by Bob Waldinger and Marc Schulz

On 28th March 2023, a group of us came together to discuss The Good Life which reveals findings from the world’s longest running study on human happiness. 

Relational Learning with David Jay

On 16/03/23, we were joined by David Jay, network builder, physicist and founder of Relationality Lab who talked to us about the methods and approaches that he’s developing to support ‘relational learning’

Relational Councils: Fourth Convening

On 30/01, 60 of us from the Relational Councils Network came together to explore how a more relational approach can help councils tackle the consequences of the cost of living crisis. 

Citizen's Rising: A special briefing with Save the Children

In partnership with Save the Children, we have been listening to young people about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this event, we shared what we have heard and explored together what children and young people need from adult society to be able to thrive

Side by Side: A peer learning programme

Over the first half of 2022, we were honoured to host a group of Community Weavers to explore how we can nurture and sustain the community activity which erupted in the early lockdowns, without controlling and constraining it. Spanning 6 sessions and involving a host of fantastic speakers, it was a great programme  covering a lot of ground.  

Relational Councils: Third Convening

On 25/04/22, we were joined by Bryony Shannon, author of the excellent blog Rewriting Social Care, to explore how local authorities can develop a more relational lexicon. We discussed the impact of language on relationships, words that make us go hmm, and small steps towards shifting language. 

Relational Councils: Second Convening

On 14/02/22, we hosted the second convening for local authorities from different parts of the country. We focused on relational approaches to statutory duties and risk management, hearing from Russ Bellenie and Eliot Fineberg who kicked off the discussion for us. 

Relational Councils: First Convening

On 13/12/21, local authorities from across the country came together to unpick what it means to be a relational council. We heard from LBBD, Tony Clements and others about what they’re working on and surfaced lots of questions to keep the conversation going. 

Nurturing and sustaining community activity

On 10/11/21, we came together to explore how we can nurture and sustain community activity without controlling and constraining it. We explored possibilities as well as challenges, and we plan to keep the conversation going into 2022.

Loneliness and political life: A transatlantic conversation

On 12/10/21 we teamed up with Pepperdine University to explore the effect that loneliness has had on our political lives. Bringing together speakers from different political standpoints, it was a lively and thought-provoking conversation. Our Twitter summary can be found here.

The Lookout: Reflecting on young people's experiences of the pandemic

On 22/09/21, we came together to reflect on the effect that the pandemic has had on young people’s relationships and what adult society needs to do to ensure ‘recovery’ takes into account their needs. This conversation supplements what we’ve been hearing form young people directly.

Measuring relationships: What's the problem?

On 09/06/21 we came together to discuss the ‘measurement problem’. What are we trying to measure when it comes to relationships? What are the risks? Where does potential lie? We surfaced as many questions as we did answers. Our Twitter summary can be found here.

Testimonials from participants

I gain such strength from this group and the people in it and the action that comes when we all gather together. I love all of your storytelling and the compassion with which you speak about the people that you obviously know very well. This personally for me is a very important part of my month so thank you everybody

Side by Side member

Action Learning was absolutely phenomenal… it gave me that kick up the backside to make plans – pushing things forward. I really liked that the process was that I was trying to find out answers for myself

Relationship Makers participant

[What I enjoy about these sessions is] meeting other practitioners and hearing about their work, […] the diversity of the content and speakers […] the camaraderie and support. It can be lonely and draining work and I get a sense people are really valuing having a support network

Side by Side member

You don’t always see the obvious. Our organisation does so much but the Heatmap showed us we don’t really promote it as best as we could… this work will have a knock on effect

Relationship Makers participant

Professionally this project has kept me going. To have some direction, to meet regularly with like minded people. To have the opportunity to share my thoughts, to be treated as an expert.

Side by Side participant

Being in this space has solidified how crucial relationships are – it’s affirmed how much can change if you have good relationships

Relationship Makers participant

Featured: The Community Weaver’s Companion

  • How can we nurture strong communities in the good times as well as the bad? 
  • How can we sustain the community activity we saw in the early lockdowns without controlling and constraining it?
  • How do we build a positive Covid legacy and resist the pull back to old ways? 

Collaboratively created by the wonderful members of our Side by Side Convening in early 2022, the Community Weaver’s Companion offers handy tools and frameworks, inspiring insights and anecdotes, and useful resources for diving deeper into what it means – and what it takes – to build strong communities from the inside.