Creating a ‘Team Around your Inner Child’Β 


Sitting in a cafe in Keynsham the other day, me and my friend Jules Allen invented a new self help technique based on something I do at work. It really helped me and I thought I would share because it might help you too! Particularly if you are interested in ‘inner child’ work.
During my day job working with ‘at risk’ young people, part of the process is that we hold something called a ‘Team Around the Child’ meeting. This involves sitting with the child and helping them to think about the issues in their life that they might need help with. We then write an agenda, and invite all of the people around them who might be able to help – family, professionals who might include teachers, a nurse, the local beat officer, youth worker etc. We try to find a place where the child feels safe, maybe their youth club, school or sometimes in their home, and then we hold the meeting. Sometimes, with enough support and preparation, the child will be confident enough to chair the meeting themselves. 
I told my friend about this, and we agreed it would have been so helpful for us to have had this experience when we were going through difficult times in our own childhood. She suggested maybe we could visualise one now, for our *inner children*. So this is what we did…
We explored the issues in our lives using a life coaching tool called ‘the life wheel’, you can find a version of it here: 
We rated the areas of our life as a 1, 2 or 3. 1 means we really need help with this. 2 means that it’s not perfect but we know what we are doing and how to do it. 3 means this area is going well.
We then did a visualisation exercise of all the people – past, present, people we admire, self help gurus – who might be able to help us with the ‘number 1’ issues. Some of the people on my list included my late grandad, all of the people I studied with on my art therapy course, my friends and teachers from clown school and fools club, my ex-youth worker, my counsellor, my personal trainer, my ukulele teacher, and Kate Bush. 
We visualised a safe space that we could hold the meeting. Imagining what it looked like, what we could hear around us, and what feelings we had in our bodies. This is an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) method of using all the senses to bring something to life in the imagination. 
Pema Chodron the Buddhist teacher chaired my friends meeting, starting with a meditation. For each agenda item we imagined what advice the people in our team might give us.
And now, when I am feeling a bit unsafe or stuck, I can sit and visualise my team around the child, and what they might say.   

I’ve been reading recently about a technique called the ‘Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy’, – a therapy tool to help with unmet childhood needs – which reminds me of this work we did. The strategy is used to get parts of the self unstuck, by using the resourceful parts of the self to meet the needs of the child parts. You can read more about it here:
I’ve learned that we internalise messages and ideas from the people in our lives who have helped us in some way, which can become part of our self talk. This can counteract the self talk of the ‘inner critic’, who is there to protect us from potential danger but who often has a negative impact on us – causing us to self sabotage and beat ourselves up over the smallest of things. This work helps quieten that critic and gives the child parts safety in the competent hands of these internal caretakers or cheerleaders.
I loved doing this work with my friend, not only because it helped me, but because it also gave me a whole new appreciation for the importance of the work that I do in my day job. I hope it might be useful for you too πŸ˜€πŸ’š


The Romantic Apocalypse – by The Misfits


Here it is! The video version of ‘The Romantic Apocalypse’, written, designed and narrated by The Misfits Mavericks. Storyboard art by me and facilitation by Anita MacCallum.
The Misfits Theatre Company helps adults with learning difficulties in Bristol have their voices and experiences heard. Through drama, storytelling and creativity, the members experience improved self-esteem, participation, decision-making and group working skills. It is a life-changing opportunity for many of the participants who often feel excluded from mainstream arts programmes. The process can be both empowering and cathartic for the individuals involved.

Working with misfits


I’ve been working with ‘The Misfits Mavericks’ and Anita MacCallum on this comic project, look! The Misfits Theatre Company helps adults with learning difficulties in Bristol have their voices and experiences heard. The group have been working on a play they’ve written – inspired by Shakespeare, love, video games and anime. I was asked to come and help turn the story into a comic. They designed everything about it, from the look of the characters to the storyboard and script. Film to follow!

I can’t draw!


Before I wrote my book I hadn’t had much training about how to draw properly, apart from GCSEs at school. I’d always doodled and drawn characters when I was a child, but they only had one facial expression and could only face head on. I only started to make comics for the purpose of my job – to share the stories of the young people I worked with. When I submitted the proposal for ‘Cartooning Teen Stories’ to my publisher, I said that I would draw 84 pages of comics. I had NO IDEA how much work that would be.
I soon realised I didn’t have the technical skills I assumed would come naturally, and that I would have to learn to draw by writing my book. Some of the initial pages took me over 7 hours to draw. I couldn’t work out why the same character looked like a different person in each panel! Having to create characters and their different angles, facial expressions, and basic anatomy – I bought books, magazines, watched YouTube videos and sat in Waterstones during my lunch break at work, reading about manga and lighting and perspective. When people say ‘I wish I could draw like you’ – I think, ‘shhh, I can’t draw either.’ It’s the imposter syndrome of not having gone to art college, but sometimes that lack of technical skill can create the most unique cartoony styles. It is never too late to pick up a sharpie, and soon I hope to do some more cartooning workshops for those of us who ‘can’t draw’. Some of the sites I found most useful and affordable for distance learning are:
Below is a punk I drew when I was aged about 9. I decided to give him a 2016 makeover and made his character design sheet. This is something I’ve do now before I draw each comic, to keep the look consistent. It really does save a lot of time in the long run (I learned the hard way)


A Fathers Betrayal


I made this comic, inspired by Gaby Gillespie’s book ‘A Fathers Betrayal’ for her niece, Natasha Cadman, who is running events to raise awareness of child marriage through the Welsh based charity INeed. I went to one of the events for International Women’s Day. There were talks one after another from women sharing their personal stories of survival, from Gaby Gillespie about child marriage, to a lady who was shot by her violent ex and now campaigns to raise awareness of stalking, women who are carers, refugees, and use their stories for activism and creativity. It was such an inspiring day.



Being a clown


I recently went on a brilliant weekend training called ‘Introduction to Clowning’ with Holly Stoppit in Bristol. It was such a worthwhile weekend of how to enter into ‘flow’, permission to be free, creative play and mindfulness. So much of what I learned could be applied to my doodle workshops.  This weekend I’m going on part two – clowning and storytelling πŸ˜€

These are my doodle notes:   

Stories from Mino Valley Farm Sanctuary – Luna


As a Christmas present for partner this year I decided to sponsor a rescue cow from Mino Valley – a sanctuary in Northern Spain, for abused and abandoned farm animals. I love the stories on their website and Instagram ( and decided to make a comic page about the lovely Luna. She was born prematurely and as a result will always be the size of a baby. Every time I think about getting a pizza, I remember Luna and get chips instead πŸ™‚