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Who we are

Circles has been developed by Audio Producer Abby Hollick, Health Psychologist Esther Murray, and Empathy Museum’s Artistic Director Clare Patey.

The project grew from our desire to find creative ways to facilitate deeper connections between people, as well as our mutual interests in audio storytelling, personal stories, lived experience, peer support and healing. We’re interested in how gathering round a speaker to hear from others can help us see what’s going on for ourselves – and how we want to move forward.

About Abby

Abby Hollick is a freelance audio producer. She specialises in recording personal stories that focus on mental health, the arts and women’s health. Abby produced and hosted the podcast Duvet Days for BBC Sounds, the podcast Page and Postnatal FAQ and created Changes for Annie Macmanus and Calm Equals for Spotify/Decca Records. She has presented multiple series for BBC Woman’s Hour on motherhood, estrangement, addiction, and sex. Her current focus is on how participatory projects can use audio of personal stories to start a conversation around rest, empathy, and communication.  

About Clare 

 Clare Patey is an artist and curator whose practice values people, process and public space. Her work has explored questions of social and environmental justice, the cultural space of the museum, urban food growing and mass feasting. She is the Director of Empathy Museum whose flagship project A Mile in My Shoes tours internationally. Empathy Museum has collaborated with the NHS on several projects using personal storytelling and dialogue to explore the experiences of those who work in or use its services. 

About Esther

Esther is a Health Psychologist who works in the area of the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare professionals. She delivers workshops and training to NHS staff. She researches moral injury in healthcare and has been invited to speak on national and international conferences and podcasts on the topic. 

Our inspirations

Communing in a circle to nurture collective wisdom and inspire social change is a very old, sacred tradition in cultures around the world. Circles is rooted in the cultural practices of Indigenous people throughout the lands now known as North America and Australia. Its structure was also influenced by various other projects creating spaces to listen and be heard – and feel the huge value and relief that comes along with that. In addition to Charlie Jones and Brigid Russell’s #SpacesForListening project, books that have inspired Circles include:

  • Listen Kathryn Mannix

    On how to have tender conversations 

  • Time to Think Nancy Kline

    On listening to ignite the human mind

  • The Circle Way Christina Baldwin, Ann Linnea 

    On bringing circles to organisational settings

  • Atlas of the Heart Brené Brown

    On the emotions and experiences that make us human.