Inspiring Narrative Conversations with the staff of Cape SPCA

We spent a wonderful four hours yesterday introducing the whole staff at the Cape SPCA to Narrative Practice. We went with the intention of teaching about how changing stories can change lives, and returned with much more than we expected... We learnt much about what an ethic of care looks like in daily practice... We witnessed heart-wrenching stories of the kinds of neglect and cruelty towards animals humankind is capable of... and heart-warming stories of the difference that their EMPATHY, COURAGE, WISDOM, INGENUITY and MUTUAL CARE make to the lives to animals and people. These are the often untold stories of the unsung heroes - the people working for this dynamic organisation based in Grassy Park. Thank you to Moyo and Collette for imagining a connection between the work of the Cape Town Narrative Co-op and the work of the Cape SPCA. As you said to us, Collette, “It is simple: the task of being human is to alleviate suffering”. 

Colette Mang, director of the Cape SPCA, wrote this on facebook about the workshop: “Sometimes we all just need some time to stop and reflect. It makes us more powerful. It makes us more humble. It strengthens us in the fight for a better world. Our lives are our stories. Let us write them well and if need be edit them often. Thank you Therese and Linda for an inspiring day and for making us stop to think about the importance of our stories.”


Our first 'Introduction to Narrative in Organizations' workshop

Our first Introduction to Narrative in Organizations workshop took place at lovely Hedge House in Rondebosch on December 3rd. 

Thank you to the fourteen participants for your wholehearted engagement and to Judy England, our hostess, and her team for their most generous hospitality.

One of the participants, Seipati Titipana, said of the experience: “Today I am taking away that life experiences don’t have to silence or limit you. Narrative gives one an opportunity to be in a space where you discover limitless possibilities.”

Read more testimonials from other participants here.

Katy Menell, director/ facilitator at Prospect Hill Recovery Practice and a consultant at the Cape Town Creative Academy shares her experience of the workshop.

Grassy Park High School poets perform their work for the first time

Recently, the young Yoh! Poets of Grassy Park High School did their first ever public performance of their work at the Jakes Gerwel Commemorative Celebration in Woodstock. 
Read more about the Yoh! project here.

Kronendal Primary Gives Thanks

The principal of Kronendal Primary School in Hout Bay, Nathan Levendal, wrote a beautiful letter of thanks to two of the Co-op’s most loyal supporters.

These donors made it possible for the school to take part in the Narrative Practice in Schools Voice Workshop.

Our ‘Voice’ Workshops go to Kronendal Primary in Hout Bay

We have been welcomed over the past weeks by Mr Levendal and Kronendal Primary school staff with open arms…Set below the mountains, this beautiful school setting acts as a perfect backdrop for inspirational stories of doing hope in a primary school. During our three-part workshop, we have witnessed narratives of caring for children in a way that inspires us to continue teaching the Narrative Approach to schools such as this school, where an ethic of care is part of their daily practice. It is uplifting to hear teachers respond to what resonates in their working and personal lives. We look forward to watching a Narrative approach and philosophy grow and take root on these vibrant school grounds.

At the end of our workshop, we invited participants to write letters about the meaning of Voice to George Ducharme and Francois Conradie, sponsors of the workshops. Here are some excerpts:

Dear George and Francois..

- “Wow! What a truly inspiring, uplifting 6 hours I have spent in the Voice workshops... Listening to the two fantastic ladies relate how I can become empowered and aware, how to help the children in my care, has been amazing. What an extraordinary gift you have given Kronendal school (and me).”

- “Thank you for choosing our school.. This has been a moving, exciting, happy, wondering time. It didn’t fade between sessions. I felt it snowballed between each session..”

- “I would like to thank you for the inspirational, stimulating and thought- provoking narrative workshop that I attended and participated in ... The emotions caused me to reflect on my life, as a individual, as a teacher and as a father..”

-  “The Narrative Training was so wonderful! So often as teachers we are so busy, always rushing, often stressed... How lovely to be forced (in a good way) to sit still and just listen to the genuine gentleness of Linda & Therese and learn.. to really see the goodness in every child, and to speak & act in a way that affirms them. Our country has so much anger and turmoil, and it often feels that our task is overwhelming.. But this course has relit the little flame in me, the one that convinces me that it’s the children that are going to turn our country around... How I wish that every teacher in every school could adopt this approach. When our schools get it right, our jails will be empty.”



‘Introduction To Narrative Practice’ Goes To Philippi

We were invited by Debbie Schkolne of The Learning Trust to introduce our Narrative Practice work at a COP wellness day in Philippi in May.  We were thrilled to be introduced to the large group of people involved in the After School care arena. Thank you to Jacqui Boulle from the After School Game Changer for “joining the dots” and connecting our work to so many incredible organisations. 


April marks the 5th birthday of the Co-Op!

We have much to celebrate!

Our first naming of the co-op happened over a coffee and a dreaming-forward discussion, where the concept of a  Co-op “downloaded” out of thin air…”What about calling ourselves the Cape Town Narrative Co-op?”…it was one of those moments where the air went still and we looked at each other and said, “Yes! Let’s do it” 

Co-op is the perfect word for our work in Narrative Practice - 

  • adjective = involving mutual assitance in working towards a common goal.
  • noun = a farm, business or organisation which is run jointly by its members.
  • synonyms = co-authorship, collaborative, collective, communal, combined, joint, shared, mutual, united, unified, allied, concerted, co-ordinated, interactive, unanimous, harmonious, coactive

Our five years of teaching, coaching and training together as the Cape Town Narrative Co-op reflects our approach and implementation of our work.

We teach together, plan together and dream together…always led by needs/requests that are identified locally and responding by developing tailor-made teaching material.

To date our work has crept into various corners of South Africa, including Natal, the Eastern Cape and mostly around our home - the Western Cape. The responses to our workshops and Narrative coaching have warmed our enthusiasm to do more…to step further into our dream and conviction that these beautiful ideas and ways need to be made accessible to everyday people living everyday lives.

We have developed, taught, trained, mentored and coached the following Narrative Practice concepts to parents, teachers, facilitators and others working with children and young people:

  • Narrative Practice as developing preferred stories in community contexts.
  • Introduction to Narrative Practice (our basic workshop) offered to people who want to learn about Narrative Practice and its possible application to their personal lives and/or the lives of their organisations.
  • Narrative principals - The Voice Project has been conceptualised to reach school Principals and leaders in organisations working with young people...….
  • Narrative Practice as Whole School Practice (training and development of NP as whole school practice at a school)
  • Bullying: an invitation to responsibility as Whole School Practice -  Bullying has become a popular topic at schools (and other organisations) and we are regularly asked about our approach to this worrying and increasingly evidenced problem in our schools and communities. Narrative Therapist, Alan Jenkins has been a strong guide in this aspect of our work.
  • Transformation, Discourses and Culture: inviting a Narrative approach to en-culturing belongingness (workshop for schools / small organisation)
  • Narrative Parenting - workshop inviting Narrative ideas to support the development of preferred stories about children and families..



Piemp by Die Tuin van Digters in Wellington, 9h00 Saterdag 16 September.

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Twaalf jaar gelede het ek vir die eerste keer afgekom op ryk bronne van poësie in die lewens van Kaapse jongomense. Dié ontginning was die begin van piemp. Met piemp wou ek oor die jare vir jongmense ‘n ervaring gee dat hulle elkeen iets het om te sê en dat ek dit wou hoor. 

Piemp is ‘n werkwoord van praat en uitpraat. Maar om om woorde te vind is nie altyd eenvoudig nie. Daarom breek piemp die reëls van stilbly en 'jou plek ken'.    

Saterdag deel die jong digters van Weltevrede Sekondêr in Wellington hulle wêreld met ons. Toe ek agttien maande gelede vir Lethan Fisher vra hoekom hy in Afrikaans skryf, het hy geantwoord: ‘Deesdae dink mense Afrikaans is dood, maar ek wil Afrikaans groot maak.’  

Dié werk slaan my asem weg, laat my lekkerkry, gee my hoendervleis,  laat my huil.. Weltevrede se piempers maak Afrikaans groot.  -  Thérèse Hulme.


Piemper Katelin Morris (regs) met haar vriendin en mede-rapper Abigail Bastiaan

Piemp inspireerder en Weltevrede onderwyseres, Ashlene Ayford, saam met Stacey en Ethan

Piemp inspireerder en Weltevrede onderwyseres, Ashlene Ayford, saam met Stacey en Ethan

Narrative co-op schools

    •    Forres school, Rondebosch: This is one of the first schools to light up with Narrative Practice as whole school practice in South Africa and has a strong Narrative Practice track record spanning over ten years. On Saturday 10 June, a generative and heart-warming morning get-together was held with the school leaders, support staff and parent community, who volunteered to meet on the topic of Diversity, Transformation and Belongingness.  Kim van der Hoven’s opening address introduced our Belongingness Project initiative as well as the rest of the work we have done collaboratively over the past few years.  Her address was one where you might have heard a pin drop in the room…relevant, insightful and totally on the mark of what working with Diversity means in a primary school context. Those at my group table were visibly moved.

    •    Engaging the support of her dynamic, supportive team, Kim works thoughtfully and tirelessly hoping to ensure that no child, family or member of staff should experience that terrible sense of Unbelongingness in this vibrant school community. The Narrative Co-op has spent a number of years working alongside this school, and continues to consult on an ongoing basis. Thumbs up to Forres: An insider-experience on Saturday morning tells me that this work of Inviting Belongingness is the way to go!

Our 'Narrative Practice in Schools' workshops go local

The Springfield & Pinelands North Primary Collections

We are still on a high after meeting awesome teachers, counsellors and social workers during our March and April workshops at Springfield and Pinelands North Primary.  We twice spent an uplifting 16 hours with people who were interested in bring Narrative ideas into their own everyday practices. Special thanks to Gabby, Janet, Lisa and Joanne. Your enthusiasm for Narrative started something really special for all of us..

Here is a sampler of the feedback we received from the School Counsellors who attended our workshop at Springfield:

Rosemarie: "What I take home is to be more creative and not fall into the trap of becoming 'so boring at times' and getting stuck and frustrated. Through your approach to counselling a new meaning emerges - so simple in many ways but yet so amazing and meaningful.." 

Lisa E : "I simply love the approach you ( as Narrative therapists) take to empower people in our country to take a stand against bullying and abuse. It is a political issue...Through the medium of poetry, letters, bookwriting, blogs, drama, each person who felt marginalised can speak out. This is a dream come true...I can see that, as a therapeutic process, it is 'decolonising' those attributes that we take on in South Africa: that we are not worthy; do not matter; have no part to play. Thank you for making visible the invisible."

Gabby: "How can I even begin to tell you what I have gained from this experience? It has been a great joy to me personally, professionally and interpersonally.."

Here are things some of the teachers at Pinelands North Primary had to say about our workshop:

Haley: "Wow. Firstly thank you so much for engaging both my brain and emotions with such simple yet powerful teachings. I am personally taking away the fact that I may not be able to change my past but I can change the narrative of it. I can then define myself by my preferred story. As a teacher I am so excited to be able to recognise that I am a witness to so many precious little lives. That I can daily challenge myself to listen and to look for the 'spaces' and help navigate them (children) to their preferred stories. This is such a powerful, life changing and healing 'therapy'/practice. SO POSITIVE! Lastly what a relief to know that I dont have to help 'fix' the problem or have all the answers - as we often do... Thank you again for a 'life/ career' changing course."

Leonore: "Thank you Thérèse and Linda for making me both see the small stitches of the tapestry and believe that I can add stitches too.."

Toni: "I feel like these past two days have changed/ shifted/ ignited something huge in me. I loved every single thing about the path we journeyd together. The honest, real, raw stories. The live input. The way you let the feelings in the room lead you. The way you gave us time to let things sink in. The way you gave us a platform to voice our 'aha!' moments. Narrative practice is such a wonder. I will carry it with me in my work, my personal life and my heart. Thank you. Thank you."