Huddlecraft: The Power of Peer Support

At Hatch we believe in the power of human potential and creating meaningful connections. That’s why we are pleased to share this guest blog from our friends over at Huddlecraft who have vast experience in harnessing the power of peer support to build a better world.

In this guest blog Stella McKenna, a Huddlecraft Host, shares the six month learning journey of the peer group she facilitated in Sheffield.

Stella McKenna is a community builder, facilitator, and curator based in Sheffield, UK. She works at the intersection of feminist futures, climate action, and systems change. The Huddlecraft Host Fellowship is open for applications until 9 AM on the 16th August. Read more and apply here.

I fundamentally agreed with this idea that if you bring a group together, that can multiply what they can achieve – so when I first met Huddlecraft’s founder Zahra and she shared her then-early stage idea of 12 peers going on a learning journey, I was intrigued.

I took part in one of the first peer groups, back in 2018, and being part of that Huddle was an experience that was, in many ways, the start of the rest of my life. I didn’t know what to expect and it was the most amazing experience, where I met fantastic people.

… so I jumped at the chance to join the Huddlecraft Host Fellowship in 2020 to host my own peer group!

I decided to run my Huddle in Sheffield – I had just moved there and a big part of my motivation was to make friends in this new city. I know from my previous experience that hosting a Huddle would be a good way to find people who cared about the world, had interesting things to say and were doing exciting, creative things.

In the end, the peer group that formed was hugely diverse in age and experience, background, work, everything you could imagine – the thing that brought us together was that we all lived in Sheffield! I really never would have met some of our peers if it hadn’t been for our journey together.

I think that sense of having a place to meet, and in person, after all the lockdowns, was so unusual at that point that just the physical act of being in the room with people meant that bonds of support were created really quickly.

We had a real mix of focuses in the group: we had people who were writing manifestos for their organisation, developing businesses or creating projects in the world… And for a lot of people it was a personal journey. In fact, it was often the people who started with a really clear professional idea that finished having discovered lots about themselves and vice versa.

I think what we shared, whether our journey was professional or personal, was confidence, creativity and new connections. 

For me, the main thing that made hosting worth it was seeing the journey that each person went on in only 6 months: where we started, and where everyone was at the end was amazing (if you’re curious, have a look at our showcase booklet here!)

I think across the board, people learnt and discovered much more about themselves and their projects than they were expecting. There are few things that can do that in such a short space of time! 

For me as the Host, this was a really immersive experience in facilitating a group over a long period of time – having to ride with that and adapt to all the highs and lows that that will bring.

Six months is a long time in people’s lives – people go through break ups, house moves, leaving jobs, getting new jobs – and to be there to hold that for the group is hard sometimes, but it’s hugely rewarding. For me and my line of work, that’s an incredibly important professional skill, as well as a personal skill.

It’s not just facilitation, it’s everything: it’s project management, it’s event planning, it’s group facilitation, it’s coaching, it’s the ability to bring in the things that you’re good at and you’re already confident in and recognise the things that you could improve is also part of that process.

I’ve also cultivated this group of friends and collaborators that I can connect with anytime, for coffee, to talk about work or a challenge, anything really.  I’d love to run another group and weave the connections between my first group and the next – but it isn’t the right time for me yet.

The biggest advantage of this experience was doing something within a group of Host Fellows, alongside the support of my Mentor: having other Hosts that you can rely on, to support and help you, to troubleshoot challenges with. I think the combination of that, plus  an amazing programme created by Huddlecraft that takes you through the key steps, and then all the crazy, amazing, different things that other Hosts have done means that you feel that you can do everything better together. 

A piece of advice if you’re thinking of joining the next Host Fellowship: make the space and time to really do it, think about your motivations and put those at the center of your journey – and also recognise that these are skills and experiences that will last for so much longer than six  months, or that first group you will host.

For me, the confidence that I built holding that space for my Huddle will stick with me in everything I do from now on. If this is intriguing to you, take the leap!

Want to learn more?

Take peer-power to the next level with a Huddlecraft Host Fellowship

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