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Opening doors

How can we all play our part in opening shut doors?

Sharon Green and I went to Sunderland Poly to do English at the tail end of the 80s and then for a large part of our adult life lost touch with each other, not out of malice, just life.  Facebook reconnected us and so we followed each other from afar, then Sharon announced she was leaving the platform so we swopped numbers, then WhatsApp voice messages, then finally we spoke and captured the conversation on my podcast.

During the lockdowns Sharon, confined, like the rest of us, to her locality, started to take photos of the doors she passed on her daily walks around London.  When I suggested to Sharon that she might like to talk about her doors on the podcast, she laughed as it seemed like a silly thing, but actually the conversation we had was anything but.

Walking around London during the pandemic and after George Flloyd’s murder got Sharon thinking about what was going on behind closed doors; which children were safe, with access to support and technology, which were hungry, as Rashford’s campaign so clearly flagged up.

As an HR consultant the doors allowed her to focus her thinking about which doors are open and shut and to whom.  Both Sharon and I got into Sunderland by the skin of our teeth and at the time, as a North Eastern Poly, there were many people who looked down on it as an undergraduate location.  But for both of us it opened doors, to both of us to higher education and careers.

As my eldest son applies for student loans which will saddle him with decades of debt, I look back on my full grant, the housing benefit I got and I am so grateful.  Without that state help even the doors of a poly would have been shut to me, there was just no my family could have afforded it and the idea of huge debt was just something which would not have been countenanced.

Being white has opened doors, going to a grammar school, every qualification I have gained has opened doors to the next, each job opening doors to the next which have all led to my ability to earn money and use my time in ways which support myself, my family, my interests and passions, well-being and income generation.

Where do you even begin if every door is shut to  you?

We didn’t get to any fix-all answers in the conversation but three themes stood out as one of the ways to open doors for all:




  • How could  you grow these themes to open doors for yourself and the people whose doors are sticky, or rusty, or bolted shut but someone or something else?

What goes on behind closed doors?  How do we open doors?  What assumptions do we make?  A simple conversation about Sharon’s photographs of doors takes us into community, connection, creativity and the big issues that as a world we are grappling with.

To work with me get in touch through my site.  I have also produced lots of online materials (some of which are free) to suppport you.

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Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Coach, author, podcaster, facilitator, Yoga and psychology teacher, learner

I have over 30 years of experience and qualification in various therapeutic and meditation/mindfulness based approaches. I work with change. Some changes we chose, others happen to us.  Sometimes we know we want to change but don't know how. Sometimes we don't want to change but external events or people are forcing us to change. The menopause, children leaving home, the end of a relationship or job, becoming a parent, coming out, bereavement are just some of the personal changes I support people with. I also work with people who want to make changes to their life and wider world in response to social issues such as Covid, the climate crisis and racial, sexual and gender inequalities. Times are changing whether we want them to or not and we need to be nimble, agile, curious and open in order to part of the new story emerging. Work with me to get clear on what matters to you, what makes your heart sing and what kind of future you want for yourself and those you love. It is possible to live differently, get in touch to explore how.

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