That was the month that was

…(or May the force be with you).

What a month May has been for me and no doubt for many others! And, on reflection I feel pleased to say it’s not been all bad for me. In fact it’s felt like a mixture of ‘fun to feel scared’ and ‘risking on purpose’. Not sure I’ve felt totally safe, thankfully not too unsafe either. I have felt plenty of pangs of guilt as I live in a relatively quiet village and, now my children have left home, have plenty of space to enjoy including a garden – I am also acutely aware this is not the case for many other people – once again the privileges that come with life’s lottery surface and weigh heavy.

At the beginning of this enforced ‘protective interruption’ – I choose not to use the standard Covid 19 rhetoric of ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’ etc. – I found it hard to even think about training and instead self-regulated by tidying cupboards, weeding the garden, making balloon models including a new balloon ‘Rainbow of Hope’ to put in my window each Monday, doing jigsaw puzzles and colouring with pencils (for a more detailed explanation of how I used Protective Behaviours when this ‘protective interruption’ started please see my last post). This kept me distracted from the news, my hands busy and my spirits high. However, a couple of weekends ago, while sitting in the sunshine, I suddenly had a ‘moment’!!! ‘What if I tried delivering training in Protective Behaviours on-line?’

As already mentioned, my children are grown up and have left home, which means I have space and could choose to turn a downstairs room into an ‘at home training venue’.  I am also married to someone who loves tech challenges and gadgets so have access to a fab webcam, sound system and additional large screen to my laptop’s so I would actually be able to see people. So, we set up the room, I unpacked all my resources, ordered a brand new magnetic flipchart stand complete with 2 extendable arms and additional magnets and tried a dry run. We were on our way.

I’d like to thank Di Margetts and Ann Seal for listening to me think out loud as I worked out how to split the 2-day Foundation Course into 6 two-hour sessions and run the equivalent of a Day 1 in the first three sessions and then the Day 2 a week or fortnight later. I had a small group already booked on to training I was supposed to be running in Northampton in May, so I offered them the first choice. Suffice to say before too long I had the 6 people I needed to give it a go, including the first person from Orkney to access PB training! I then had to work out what resources they would need to receive before the session, either in hard copy or by email, and had great fun collating materials for posting. I really like receiving post 😊

As I type this, we’re half-way through the first course and the feedback from participants has been really positive both in terms of how safe they feel and how the digital platform is enabling them to access training no matter where they are.  I have also had a lot of interest from other groups already. However, I am determined to ensure the quality of the course remains high, so will be keeping numbers lower than they would be in a real training room. The authenticity and accessibility of training and the integrity of the PB process take priority over numbers!

And I’m now about to embark on another ‘virtual adventure’ by co-ordinating a series of 2-hour PB sessions for people totally new to the process and also for people who have previously attended training with me and want an opportunity to put the process into practice together. Further information can be found here.

8 years ago, a friend and PB training colleague and I risked on purpose by setting up the PBPeople community website (which has now evolved into We then risked again by establishing our own Protective Behaviours training ‘shop window’: the Protective Behaviours Training Partnership. Both of these ‘risks on purpose’  were born out of necessity as is this latest adventure, for if ever there was a time for people to feel safer, then 2020 is exactly that!

My thanks go to Heather Stapleford for designing this Rainbow of Hope for me. I’m planning to make into greeting cards and sticker sheets to share hope with a wider audience. Please get in touch if you’d like to purchase any.

PS Forgot to highlight another garden inspiration moment had towards the end of April – a new PB consistent activity posted every morning on the PB community website. Hope you enjoy them 🙂

Surreal Times

Well, I certainly didn’t envisage this blog would be written at a time when I feel even more unsettled than when I wrote the last one…… however here I am!

Once again I’m reflecting on the Protective Behaviours process and what it can offer all of us during this truly challenging period.

Like last time, the strategy of Protective Interruption feels really helpful as it offers me an element of choice and time limit as well a chance to take some control – so I actively decide whether or not to listen to the news and if I do, the channel that I trust the most. I also ensure I get outside and walk with my little dog every day – feeling blessed Spring is well and truly on its way. Good old Mother Nature is also doing her bit by displaying the wonder of new life and I feel truly piviliged to live in a place where ‘safe-spacing’* is relatively easy to do (*prefer this term to ‘social-distancing’ as we are naturally social beings so it’s important to maintain connection with others. I can therefore still share greetings and smile at others whilst sticking to the rules).

I’m also remaining connected to my wonderful PB Network buddies home and abroad and have found a new virtual network – Thank you @_LisaCherry for inviting me to be part of a new a group and enabling us to connect and process ideas daily if we choose to…. I really appreciated you sharing the JR Tolkien quote below as, for me, it perfectly illustrates the effect of not having any control over what the universe throws our way. What we can try to do though is control our thoughts and the way we respond*.

*(I am mindful that when people feel less safe, their responses are not always the safest ones!)

Continuing with the PB process, I’m using the strategy of Persistence at the same time as One Step Removed to ask the question ‘What if …’ and ‘enjoying’ inventing various scenarios – some humorous, (in my opinion) and some not so, whilst at the same time reinforcing Themes 1 & 2: ‘We all have the right to feel safe all the time’ & ‘We can talk with someone about anything, even if it feels awful or small’. Must admit to this feeling like Risking on Purpose on some occasions and my ‘Thanks’ again go to Tolkien as he provides another truly apt quote in terms of my fondness for adventures!!!!

“Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

I’m aware though the biggest challenge for me is to continue to use the Language of Safety in terms of maintaining the element of Quality within this model and not resorting to blaming language. And as soon as I do, I’m reminded of Brené Brown’s video, ‘Damn You Steve’ and that blaming offers people, as Brené puts it, ‘a semblance of control’ so no wonder people do it! Being able to accept some things, like other people’s behaviour, the arrival of a new virus, are not things I can control, but I can do my best to control the way I respond and this response will be much safer if I can take a moment to breathe and visualize my ‘Safe Place’. I’m also noticing an awful lot of violent language being used to by both our politicians and media in terms of the need to ‘win the war’, ‘beat the virus’ and even suggesting people who sadly die have lost the fight. I’m looking forward to being able to discuss this with people when I’m able to train face-to-face again

So, during this unprecedented time of ‘working from home’, my fab PB Buddy Ann Seal and I plan to complete some of the things we have on our ‘To Do’ list, one of which is to finish off  and design new PB consistent resources to add to the Protective Behaviours Training Partnership website. The idea of a Protective Behaviours Strategy placemat for training is one of those things we’ve had on our list for quite a while and Ann finished it last week – Thank You Ann. I decided to give it a test run and have used it to record some of the ways I’m using the 7 PB Strategies in response to Covid 19 – hope you find it a helpful summary of all the above. 🙂

PB Covid 19 Place Mat

Looking forward to catching up again once we’ve got through this latest ‘adventure’ and feeling hopeful my next blog will be written in far less surreal times.

Yours in health and safety,

PS For a more detailed explanation of the PB Strategies please see this Forum post on the Protective Behaviours Association website.

Not that Sally Ann Hart!

I’ve decided to write a new blog, despite these days preferring to use Twitter to connect, share ideas and learn from others, because I’ve just discovered that there’s another Sally Ann Hart who seems to be attracting rather a lot of attention on the run up to the December 12th General Election. My thinking is I can use this blog to reassure anyone who already knows me, in either the real or ‘virtual world’, that I’m not the person standing as a candidate for the Tory party in Hastings and Rye! And I definitely do not want the UK to leave the EU!!!

I then got to thinking about how I felt, knowing some people might mistake me for someone with the same name and who may or may not have the same values as I do. During Protective Behaviours training we discuss ‘Are names important?’ and people always comment on how the name we choose to use as adults is very much linked to our ‘identity’. We also reflect on how this might be for children who are given names they may or may not like and how as adults we need to ask them what name they prefer us to use. This is a really simple way to demonstrate how to build a respectful relationship with children and young people.

For those of you who have stumbled over this blog post thinking it was another Sally Ann Hart, why not stay a couple of minutes longer and listen to a very simple explanation of what the Protective Behaviours process is?

PS Depending on how the time between now and the General Election goes I may choose to use my pre-married name of Sally Ann Dempsey, although I much prefer not having SAD as my initials