POSTPONED: Conversations that Challenge: Gary Younge

This event – scheduled for Thursday November 2nd, was cancelled as Mr. Younge could not get to Plymouth from London as all trains were cancelled in the storm. We plan to reschedule for early in 2024 – look out here for details.

Mr. Younge was due to be joining us to discuss his new book – Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter – at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth

Gary Younge in America

Gary Younge is an award-winning author, broadcaster and professor of sociology at the University of Manchester. Formerly a columnist and an editor-at-large at the Guardian, he is the author of five books, including Another Day in the Death of America (shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Jhalak Prize) and the recently published ‘Dispatches from the Diaspora’ a collection of journalism on race, racism and black lives and deaths.

These events are part of our Conversations that Challenge Series to mark Zebra’s 20th Anniversary.

We are recruiting: Community Cancer Support Project Manager

The Plymouth Cancer Support Project is a 3-year project, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The project is hosted by Zebra Collective and represents a close collaboration with community partners Age UK and the Wolseley Trust Social Prescribing team.
We are seeking an experienced project manager to be responsible for forming a small team whose collective ambition is to improve health inequalities for those most impacted by social injustice.
The project will explore community-based approaches to supporting people whose cancer outcomes and experiences are known to be the worst because of the unacceptable barriers they face (such as those living in areas of multiple disadvantage, minoritised communities etc) 

More information about this post: here

Closing date for applications: 12 noon on Wednesday 22nd November 2023

20th Anniversary Zebra Collective Events

To mark our 20th anniversary, we are hosting events throughout 2023 to raise and develop discussion on contested areas in our sectors.

Conversations that Challenge

At our launch session on 22nd March we considered: Are we sure we’re so amazing? Attended by 22 participants it was a stimulating discussion. We’ll be announcing our 2nd session soon.

Are we sure we’re so amazing?

I’ve been working with people since the 1980s, and in that time I’ve seen many welcome shifts in language, with devaluing and depersonalising terms such as ‘the mentally handicapped’ consigned to the dustbin, and others such as ‘the elderly’ and ‘the homeless’ on their way. 

Then there’s language that’s sticky, and even in the ascendent, such as the highly questionable diagnostic terminology of psychiatric ‘disorders’, such as ‘ADHD’, ‘PTSD’ and ‘BPAD’. 

But over the past 10-15 years, there’s emerged a whole new discourse in the helping sectors – one of celebrating ourselves and the work we do: we’re told – and we tell others – how ‘amazing’ we are, and how ‘fantastic’ is the work we do, how ‘exciting’ is the next opportunity, and so it goes on. And here at Zebra Collective, this concerns us. Why?

Because we’re not sure how we can be so sure our work is so amazing. How do we know? We may have good intentions and we may work hard – but are we sure that our outputs translate into such ‘brilliant’ outcomes for our intended beneficiaries?

And even when they do, is this effusive, celebratory language appropriate to the serious, sobering contexts in which many of us work – where people are struggling with some of the toughest challenges life can throw out? Particularly where these challenges are exacerbated by reprehensible political choices – such as ‘austerity’ – which are, in our view, appalling social injustices? 

Should our language and our tone be different? Should we be more sceptical re our impact? Should we be more grounded in our language and tone? Should we exhibit more humility? And should we be naming and protesting the injustices more explicitly and more consistently? 

joint Solution-Focused Practice Group: 24th November 2023 9.30am-12.30pm

The joint Solution-Focused Practice Group sessions are for people who have had some training in solution-focused practice, and wish to meet with others to develop their skills.

The sessions, co-facilitated by Guy Shennan and Marc Gardiner, are a continuing professional development opportunity which aims to bring together people committed to working in a solution-focused way to develop skills and build networks. Sessions comprise any one or more of:

  • Teaching
  • skills practice
  • case studies
  • group exercises and discussions
  • SF sessional video footage

– all good opportunities for practitioners to step back from the daily work and reflect, learn and refresh.

Price: £25 + VAT

For more information contact:

Final 2023 session: Friday 24th November – book here
First 2024 session: Friday 2nd February – book here

If we cancel a session, payments will be refunded or transferred to a future session.

Should you cancel 3+ days before the event, your booking can be rolled over to a future session of your choice. No refunds will be paid.

Solution-focused Practice: 3-day online open course – September – October 2023

Tuesdays 19th & 26th September 9.30am-4.30pm; 31st October 1-4.30pm, On Zoom

The solution-focused approach is a versatile change conversation approach that can have real power in work with anyone who is stuck with big problems, as well as those just contemplating making some changes in life.  

Trainer: Marc Gardiner Marc is Zebra’s SF Lead and a highly experienced SF practitioner and trainer of 25 years working with individuals, groups, communities and organisations.  

£200+VAT per person; includes a 40-page course notes booklet, model question cribsheets, and an attendance certificate with learning outcomes. 
Discounts available for individuals self-financing (low income), and 15% discount for 2+ bookings.  

If your organisation needs to raise a purchase order to book your place – please email stating the PO number (& names) and the cost per person, i.e. £200+VAT, many thanks.

To book email Payment in advance to book your place.

NB No refund/transfer credit for participant cancellations in the fortnight up to the start date. Refunds or credit transfer to a future course are available if this course is postponed or cancelled.  

About the course 
Tired of getting stuck looking at the problem? This 2.5-day course will leave you thinking and working in a powerful new way. It may change your life.  The ideas, values and skills of solution-focused practice are helpful to anyone who works with people: the focus moves away from the problem towards hopes, the changes the person / group wants, strengths, resourcefulness, resilience and competence, progress already made, and possibilities. The power of this approach has long been evidenced in helping services, community work and schools, and is now increasingly recognised also in personnel management, organisational development, and coaching.  

Solution-focused practice is a “non-expert” approach to helping and change work. That is, it’s not based on the notion that the worker knows best. There’s a paradox here, though, in that to learn to function as an effective, truly non-expert practitioner takes some expertise.  

This course offers new change conversation skills and fosters personal & professional development, and will be useful to anyone who works with people – particularly those who support others through problems and change (e.g. workers in social care and housing support settings, ‘mental health’ workers, community workers and health staff) and staff / team /organisation managers etc.  

This a skills-development programme, with lots of opportunity for structured practice in the core elements of solution-focused work: best hopes, rich picture of preferred future, instances / exceptions/ progress, coping, motivation, next steps.   

Learning outcomes 
By the end of this 2.5-day workshop you will:  
– Have a working knowledge of the philosophy, value base, and key elements
of solution-focused practice  
– Have experience of a solution-focused conversation, both as worker and client  
– Have insight into how the learning can be applied and sustained in your individual work context  
– Have developed an immediate next step for consolidating and building on the learning, and for your future use of solution-focused practice  
– Know about local & global (online) networks for keeping in touch with solution-focused workers  

What people said about this course:  

“An excellent trainer with firm knowledge & skills, & a sustained belief – inspirational.”   

“Most valuable, interesting training session for a long time. Thanks.”   

“Wasn’t sure after first day whether this could be useful in support work – convinced now … <and> … would like to practice more…fascinating.”  

“Many thanks for a great second session yesterday, it was a fast paced, stimulating day and I’m now full of enthusiasm for SF and looking forward to putting it into practice.”   

“The best training I have been on since I can remember! I believe this will have a huge impact on my working and personal life! Thank you.”   

“I think it is life changing – thanks.”  

Further details about Solution-Focused Practice here. 

For enquiries or further details please email