The Putney Debates

A cultural exchange

This is a group which concerns itself with issues relevant to social injustice in the black and ethnic communities in London. We welcome people from all backgrounds who would like to contribute to discussions on relevant topics within a BAME framework. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach, and consider social injustice, politics & discriminatory policy using a combination of a psycho-social approach, mindfulness and Buddhist psychology.

Throughout human history we have been affected by power, privilege and disempowerment based on race and ethnicity. History often seems to repeat itself, and we are living again in a time when democracy, freedom and justice are in great danger. Those of us who are not in positions of privilege or power have an opportunity within the Putney Debates to create a space from the bottom-up to empower ourselves.

How we internalise messages about ourselves and each other about our race and ethnicity is a systemic process, often enforced by hidden social structural powers which stem from a system of oppression, racism and hatred.  This leaves a legacy from generation to generation.

Learning to cultivate, restore and revive our sense of wholeness, and combat negative misperceptions around issues of race, is unique to our group. Learning a skilful approach to working with unconscious bias, prejudice, self-hatred, fear and shame, and exploring the impact of racism and oppression with the use of mindfulness, is the best tool for social change.

The Putney Debates is a group for generating understanding, kindness and compassion, with the use of a multi-disciplinary approach to illuminate our lives and unlock the potential within each one of us; and incorporating the extraordinary power of forgiveness.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for social change. In the Putney Debates we have created a rare opportunity to consider, heal and awaken our hearts and minds to possibilities.

The Putney Debates include

1. Mindfulness and meditation for cultural exchange;
2. Debating some of the current political issues and crises;
3. Networking with other professionals;
4. Enhancing your social circles; having a laugh and enjoying good food & company;
5. Learning about the forgiveness model; and
6. Learning about the Systemic Human Exploration (SHE) model.

Please bring food to share and your sitting cushions.

Dates: Saturday 1 July, 5 August, 23 September & 25 November

Time: 13:00 till 18:00pm
Venue: The Top Floor, St Mary’s Church, Putney High Street, London, SW15 1SN – How to get there
Fee: £40 for all four sessions – £20 per session (£15 BAATN members and £5 concessions)

No one is excluded based on cost – If you feel you cannot afford the standard rates email

For information call William on 07802 841444

All income will go to the Black, African & Asian Therapist Network


Speakers will include:

Reem Shelhi

Psychotherapist, Group Leader and founder of Born in Tripoli, Libya where the social and political climate of the time kindled an early interest in human behaviour and patterns of conflict, and with over ten years’ experience including work with victims of torture and abuse, Reem started developing Systemic Human Exploration – a platform for addressing inequalities, injustices and conflict. Its flagship project, Systemic Human Exploration, is an innovative and ground-breaking approach to addressing psycho-social problems, by creatively and fully engaging people in what it is to be human.

Dene Donalds

Dene was born in the UK with a West Indian heritage. He is registered nurse working with people with learning disabilities. He has worked as a Director and Senior Manager in the Private, Public and Voluntary sectors. He currently lives in Lancashire facilitating MBSR programmes, and offering mentoring on the art of mindful living. Dene is currently teaching mindfulness to the workforce of Merseycare; England’s largest Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust; with the aim of developing mindfulness in clinical practice.

William Fley

William has developed the Putney Debates, Project MUD, Project MBBT, ‘Forgiveness & Empowerment’ and the New Forest Mindfulness School. He has an MA in Race, Culture and Ethnicity from Birkbeck College, University of London, where his dissertation was on ‘Higher Education and the Equality Act 2010’ which looked at the attainment gap in higher education. William has also taught at the University of Brighton and the University of London.

Qualified as an integrative counsellor and psychotherapist from Roehampton University, William initially worked in the NHS treating bereavement and trauma and also working with victims of crime before setting up a private practice. He moved to the New Forest in 2010, and is continuing his development at Breathworks and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. He plays the viola and likes cats.

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