The Three Ball Juggling Club

jugglerYou might think that learning to juggle is something that some people do to pass the time away, or even to waste time, but it is actually of great benefit to people in many different ways.

Juggling certainly is a great way of taking a break and enables you to return to more intensive mental activity feeling refreshed. On the other hand, though, there are cognitive and educational benefits to learning juggling skills and at The Safe House we use juggling to develop our understanding of patterns and procedures and to devise strategies which help our learning in other areas.

At the same time, research has shown that juggling can help people with dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, hyperactivity and even Alzheimer’s disease because it is an activity which challenges the brain and keeps it active and ready to deal with the complex tasks of everyday life, including learning.

Juggling facilitates the development of problem-solving skills and can help to develop qualities such as patience and perseverance. At the same time, as a person develops the skill, it can stimulate imagination and creativity, qualities that are vital in the modern world.

The Safe House Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions begin with learning how to juggle. This can be a short or long part of the sessions as different people learn at different rates. However, once you know ‘the trick’, it is usually a matter of individual patience and motivation.

For this reason, The Three Ball Juggling Club Sessions are an ideal medium through which to assess your own motivation and, through this assessment, to develop ways of getting stuff done even when you maybe don’t feel like it.

These sessions focus on the skill of three ball juggling, but also incorporate a range of other areas of learning depending on the needs of the participant(s).

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting The Safe House Juggling Club, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”


Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project

suitcases keatsThe Intergenerational Skills Exchange Project at The Safe House bridges age gaps to facilitate personal, collaborative and shared learning of skills. The project is based on discrete 1:1 and small group sessions through which young people and older people teach, learn and exchange skills as diverse as:

  • welding and metalwork
  • carpentry
  • sewing and needlework
  • mobile technology, IT and social media skills
  • languages and literacy skills
  • science, maths and numeracy skills
  • cooking and baking
  • online shopping
  • government and the electoral system.

At The Safe House, we coordinate, develop and facilitate teaching and learning sessions across the age ranges for mutual understanding and shared learning.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in this scheme, either as a client or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss supporting the Intergenerational Skill Exchange Project, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House 

“We can take you to a better place.”


The Cardboard Library

girl moon umbrella butterflies adana1The Cardboard Library sessions are creative writing development sessions.

Participants are led through a series of stimulating journeys, both real and virtual, which form the catalyst for poetry, flash fiction and short story writing. The products from these sessions are collated and presented by The Safe House as The Cardboard Library, a hand-made occasional ‘magazine’ showcasing new creative writing talent.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions, either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

Left Luggage

The Left Luggage project is based around a series of walkshop events comprising:

  • poetry reading.
  • local sights and landmarks.
  • walking, talking, discovery and writing.cat on the luggage

The Left Luggage sessions involve walks in the outdoors, poetry readings and discussion. They focus on understanding, analysis, comparison and appreciation of poetry as well as offering an opportunity to read and hear poetry in the fresh air.

These sessions could be particularly useful for anybody who is working towards GCSE or A Level English Literature qualifications.

Of course, practice in understanding poetry for national qualifications is not the only benefit of the Left Luggage sessions  and we are sure that they will inspire participants to seek out more poetry and maybe even write some too!

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions either as an  attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own sessions as part of the Left Luggage series, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

The LSD Sessions

bandstandThe Learning and Skills Drop-in (LSD) Sessions focus on the development of language, literacy and learning skills and strategies, whether for achievement in national and international qualifications, to enhance potential for employment or university application, or for personal development and change.

The sessions take place in 1:1, pairs or small groups and form short, medium and longer term personal language, literacy and learning skills programmes.

Some of the sessions available through LSD (Learning and Skills Drop-In) with The Safe House are:

The Bookcase Sessions – How to choose a book that’s right for you.
The Aikido Flex Sessions – Introduction to a writing process.
The Elephant Sessions – Ways of taking notes and revising stuff.
The Duck-Rabbit Sessions – Intensive proofreading for accuracy and meaning.
The Order from Chaos Sessions – Strategies for planning learning and beating deadlines.
The Twelve Bar Blues Sessions – Learning to learn through music.
The Murakami Sessions – Ways of studying and enjoying literature.

italian dog logoIf you are interested in participating in these sessions and programmes either as an attendee or facilitator, or both (!), or if you would like to discuss developing your own LSD sessions with us, just fill in the form below and we will get back to you with details of how to be involved in this part of the work of The Safe House.

This IS The Safe House

“We can take you to a better place.”

Science is proving … highlighted text

(A Vocabulary Extension Session from The Safe House)
Use the highlighted words to build your own vocabulary extension map (VEP?)

Do you have a fear of spiders? Maybe snakes? It could be your ancestors trying to tell you something. Recent studies have provided evidence that memories of fear are one of many things our forebearers pass down to us through our DNA.

A 2013 study from Emory University found that  mice trained to fear a specific odor would pass their emotions on to their offspring and future generations. Scientists applied electric shocks to mice as they exposed them to the smell of cherry blossoms. The mice then bred, and both the children and grandchildren of the affected rodents demonstrated a fear of cherry blossoms the first time they smelled them.

“Our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations,” Dr. Brian Dias of the Emory University department of psychiatry said to the Daily Telegraph. “Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential intergenerational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The study went beyond just observing a fear reaction. Scientists actually looked at the brains of the animals and found physical changes in the areas that process odors, and also found a marker on the odor gene of the mouse DNA.

The experiment worked even when the researchers used artificial insemination in place of allowing the mice to breed naturally. The scientists still aren’t sure how the fear imprint makes it into the sperm — whether the smell itself passes through the blood, or the brain processes the odor and sends its own signal.

“It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously,” Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London said to the BBC. “I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”

Humans have long sought to understand memory and heredity, nature vs. nurture and how much information parents actually transmit to their children. The nature study is another step toward answering our questions about exactly what, and how much of our forebearers’ experiences get passed down through DNA.

Primordial Fears

There is already a growing body of research about how humans and other animals inherit fear from their ancestors. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013 found that primates’ brains are uniquely tuned to recognize snakes, suggesting that we gained an innate fear of the reptiles over the course of our evolutionary development. A 2011 study in Current Directions in Psychological Science found that human infants aren’t necessarily afraid of snakes from birth, but they learn to fear them more quickly than they learn to fear other more innocuous stimuli like flowers and rabbits.

“What we’re suggesting is that we have these biases to detect things like snakes and spiders really quickly, and to associate them with things that are yucky or bad, like a fearful voice,” study co-author Vanessa LoBue of Rutgers University said in a press release. The research built on previous work by LoBue and her team that showed that people were able to identify snakes and spiders more quickly than other animals and objects. There’s even evidence that primates actually developed large brains and keen eyesight as a defense measure to avoid falling prey to snakes.

Another study found that unborn crickets whose mothers were stalked by wolf spiders showed more fear of spiders after they were born than control crickets — not to mention a higher survival rate. At this point there’s little doubt that fear gets passed down through the generations — now we’re learning about how.

Rewriting The DNA

Fear isn’t the only thing that gets imprinted in our genes. Recent breakthroughs have made big strides in understanding epigenetics — how our DNA gets changed by environmental factors. A study published in 2013 revealed details about how certain aspects of DNA can be turned on or turned off, and therefore passed on to offspring or not. A report last year found that Crohn’s disease can cause epigenetic changes in people who suffer from it. And scientists were able to edit the DNA of mice to cure them of an inheritable liver disease — with hope that the same process would work in humans.

Other researchers are working on how to encode DNA with specific information. A study led by synthetic biologist Timothy Lu of MIT and published in Science in 2014 found a way to rewrite living DNA in a cell and watch as the altered information was transferred to new cells. The researchers changed cells to make them sense light and react to other stimuli. Next, they hope to use the technology to make a recording of the cell’s environment for study, such as placing the cells in water for a week and then testing them for toxins.

Other scientists have managed to etch the equivalent of a megabyte worth of data onto DNA, and then read it back. Both studies are more geared toward gathering and storing information, but the more we learn about how to change DNA, the possibility looms that we could learn how memories are implanted — and someday even artificially create hereditary memories, if scientific interest and ethics allowed such an outcome.

Beyond The Physical Realm

The idea of memories being written into DNA could provoke speculation about phenomenon like visions of past lives, although it might be a leap to go from a reaction to odor to the recall of specific and discrete memories.

Polish Professor of Pedogogy Andrzej Szyszko-Bohusz has worked since the 1960s to promote a theory of genetic immortality in which parental consciousness is transmitted to children along with DNA and other hereditary information. More recently, University of Virginia (UVA) professor Jim Tucker hypothesizes that consciousness needs no physical binding at all to pass on. Tucker, who studies children who have memories of past lives, claims that quantum physics suggests that our physical world is created by our consciousness. Therefore,

“consciousness doesn’t need the world, let alone a brain, to exist,”

and could simply affix itself to a new brain once it passes out of a dying one.

“I understand the leap it takes to conclude there is something beyond what we can see and touch,” Tucker said to UVA Magazine. “But there is this evidence here that needs to be accounted for, and when we look at these cases carefully, some sort of carry-over of memories often makes the most sense.”

He calls it the science of reincarnation. Whether he is on the right track, or we discover that memories are passed down by DNA all along, or there is some other mechanism we don’t know about yet, is still to be determined.

Text at:


A Kid’s Story.

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

This session is based on:

A Kid’s Story?

A Kids’ Story?

Our Kid’s Story?

Ah, Kids’ Story.

Kids, the Story.

Ah! Kid’s Story.

Well, a Kid’s Story.

owl talonsYup yup…


Think of a time when you were nine

You were scared. A bully, a beast?

A dream, a reality?


Me and Isaac, and Yvette and Fin and Becky, did a Flash Fiction Writing Session a while ago. It was about a boy who got scared in a hotel room in Paris.

This is Isaac’s story:


I was nine, nearly ten, in a hotel room at night in America. I was scared. I was scared because of noises.  The next day I saw an owl sitting on the window sill. I said ‘Oh! Thank God’.


This piece is written in the first person. It makes us wonder how much of it is autobiographical.

You could write a piece in the first person like this or you could write it in the third person. That way you could create writing that gives the point of view of another person. It could be a real person or a fictional person. As the writer, you get to decide.

owl faceBut, be sure to remember:

  • Get it done and then work on the detail.
  • Re-read, re-read, re-read.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar are crucial.

Word count and process

Isaac’s Owl Story is 39 words long. We think that’s spot on and reckon a 30 to 60 word target might be good.

Later, you could make it rhyme and turn it into poetry.

You could spend forever just working on a sentence or two. It could be interesting.

Look for other Sessions from The Safe House on ways to edit and proofread your writing.

What next?

Send it to us at:


Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!

2. A Walk In The Park

(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)

struggle to sketch the flow

OK, so this session is all about going inside your mind. The stimulus will be a few simple prompts which may, or may not, be linked. You then go inside your head and imagine the scenario. The aim is to try and get a rhythm going and to get words down. For this reason, you should try to be aware of time as much as you can.

Later, you could look at other Flash Fiction Writing Sessions for ways in which you could put your writing from these prompts together to work on a piece of narrative writing.

We are talking about descriptive writing here so you have to create lots of images of random things like size, physical appearance, colour, texture, smell (!).  Sometimes you might think about describing emotions as well.

If you’re going to write in the third person, you’ll have to use your imagination and think about how your character will perceive the surroundings.

Maybe you could refer to the Flash Fiction Writing Session, Elsie Ethel Court, and describe your surroundings from the point of view of the person you wrote about for this session. You  could also try and use the prompts to help you to imagine how Elsie would have perceived the scenario(s).


Write either notes or full sentences in response to 8 short prompts.

nb: You need to decide whether your character is you or somebody else before you start writing your responses to the prompts!


  1. You are in a park. Describe the park.
  2. You are standing on a path in the park. Describe the path.
  3. You walk along the path. You see animals. Describe the animals. Do they notice you?
  4. You continue along the path and you see, on the floor, a key. Describe the key. Do you pick the key up and take it with you or do you leave the key where it is?
  5. Either way, you continue walking along the path. You come across an obstacle. Something is in your way on the path. What is it? Describe the obstacle. Is it easy or difficult to get past?
  6. Somehow, maybe easily, maybe with great difficulty, you get around or under, or over or through the obstacle and you continue along the path. Somewhere in sight, there is water. Describe the water.
  7. You continue along the path and, in the distance, you see a building. Maybe a house, but not necessarily a house. It’s a building. Describe the building.
  8. You walk along the path to the building. You go inside and sit down. Describe the scene.


Like I said, this is about using your imagination, but it’s a good idea to try and harness your imagination just enough so that you can get it down. That means you need a decent place to sit where you can produce words.

Then, you need to have some kind of way of measuring time because there are a total of 8 prompts and you could easily get a bit disoriented, if you don’t have some kind of structure to the task you are about to engage in.

Think about adjectives, obviously, colours, of course, but also about the senses. Although you probably shouldn’t get too obsessed with what everything smells like! Unless … Well, you need to not get too bogged down. Keep your mind moving and get words down as quickly as you can.

Don’t worry too much about telling a story.

Other Flash Fiction Writing Sessions can help you make what you create here fit into a narrative. Now is the time for sights, sounds and all the rest. Straight out of your head and into written words.

Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Keep to the time scale described below as much as you can so that things stay quite spontaneous.
  • If you save what you write, you can edit and change stuff easily.
  • If you want to go more slowly, you can adjust the times, of course.
  • You could even get someone you know who can get words down quickly to do the note taking for you and then you can write it up in your own time later. ; )

nb: Look for other Safe House Sessions for ways to proof read and edit your writing.

Word count and process

Don’t worry about word count, but for this session the process should take you about 20 minutes once you’re settled and ready to start.

Have 2 minutes thinking and writing time for each prompt. That makes 16 minutes in total. You could quite easily spend longer, I guess. Or less, I suppose. But this would be my recommendation.

If you give yourself 20 seconds to think before you write anything for each prompt,that would make another 1 minute and 40 seconds. If you keep going that is just under 20 minutes creating and writing time.

Spend another couple of minutes reading what you’ve written and making sure you will be able to understand it later.

Put the pen down. Sit back. Relax. Phew!

What next?

If you feel confident, you can take your notes and you can spend time to put them together into a narrative. Here you need to think about time and tense in order to construct your sentences so that they have proper meaning for your reader. Narratives are often constructed in the past tense. But:

‘Time is the Avenger. Never the Stranger.’

So concentrate when you’re at it and read your stuff loads while you’re writing it.

Look for other  Safe House Sessions for ways to work with time.

If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:


Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!



The Illusion Learning Sessions

jugglerThe Illusion Learning Sessions encourage participants to assess the situation, plan action and start getting things done. 

Activities in the sessions lead participants on a journey of self-discovery and personal reflection in preparation for learning.

Through the Illusion Learning Sessions, participants acquire and develop skills, knowledge and personal qualities to tackle the challenges of learning, work and life.

The Illusion Learning Sessions can be done randomly or strategically. Ideally, they will be accessed in conjunction with other learning so that the content of this learning can be applied to the activities in the Illusion Learning Sessions.

Click the links to access summaries and sample sessions.

Knowledge is Power (1)
Knowledge is Power (2)
The Elephant Sessions
The Edson Erantes do Nascimento Sessions

For information on how to access real life sessions fill in the form below:

This IS The Safe House –  “We can take you to a better place.”

The Safe House Online Sessions

 Follow the links for The Safe House Online Sessions.