Listening Circles: Understanding Disengagement

Listening Circles: Understanding Disengagement
Main Topic
Solidarity – Participation
Additional Topic(s)
Health - Mental
Solidarity - Civic Activities
Solidarity - Participation
Solidarity - Social Activities
Solidarity - Volunteering
1-2 hours
Implementation Mode
Indoor F2F
(Learning) goals
• To understand the factors contributing to disengagement among young people.
• To promote empathy and active listening skills.
• To create a safe and inclusive space for open dialogue.
• To identify strategies to re-engage disengaged youth.
Expected Results
• Participants will gain insights into the reasons behind disengagement and feel more connected to their peers. They will develop better listening and empathy skills, and identify practical ways to support and re-engage disengaged individuals.
Overview of Activity
"Listening Circles" is an inclusive and empathetic activity aimed at understanding the reasons behind disengagement among young people. Through structured dialogue and active listening, participants share their experiences and feelings. The activity emphasises the importance of creating supportive environments where every voice is heard and valued.
Description of Activity
What is needed before?
Prepare the seating arrangement in a circle to promote equality and open communication. Ensure the environment is comfortable and free from distractions.

1. Introduction and Setting the Tone (15 minutes)
• Begin with a brief introduction to the concept of disengagement and its potential causes.
• Explain the purpose of the activity: to understand and address disengagement through open and respectful dialogue.
• Establish ground rules for the discussion (e.g., confidentiality, respect, no interrupting).

2. Icebreaker (10 minutes)
• Use a simple icebreaker to create a relaxed atmosphere. For example, ask participants to share one thing they enjoy doing in their free time.

3. Introduction to the Listening Circle (5 minutes)
• Explain the structure of the listening circle and the use of the talking stick (only the person holding the stick may speak).
• Emphasise the importance of active listening and empathy during the session.
4. Sharing Experiences (20 minutes)
• Pass the talking stick around the circle and invite participants to share their experiences and feelings about disengagement.
• Encourage participants to speak openly about their own disengagement or observations of disengagement in others.
• Remind the group to listen without judgment and respect each speaker's perspective.

5. Identifying Themes and Solutions (15 minutes)
• After everyone has had a chance to speak, facilitate a discussion to identify common themes and reasons for disengagement.
• Use a flipchart or whiteboard to write down key points and patterns that emerge.
• Ask participants to brainstorm potential solutions or strategies to re-engage disengaged youth and write these on sticky notes and place them on the flipchart.

6. Action Planning (15 minutes)
• Discuss practical steps the group can take to implement the identified solutions.
• Encourage participants to commit to specific actions they can personally take to support re-engagement.
7. Conclusion and Reflection (10 minutes)
• Conclude the activity with a reflection on the insights gained and the importance of continued dialogue.
• Thank participants for their openness and contributions.
• Remind the group of the agreed-upon actions and encourage ongoing support for each other.
Sources & Additional Materials
• Comfortable seating arranged in a circle
• Talking stick or any item to signify the speaker
• Flipchart or whiteboard
• Markers
• Sticky notes
• Notebooks and pens
Additional Notes
Debriefing Questions
How did sharing and listening to others' experiences make you feel?
What common reasons for disengagement did you notice in the discussion?
What strategies do you think will be most effective in re-engaging disengaged youth?
How can we continue to support each other and maintain engagement within our group?

This activity emphasises the importance of empathy and active listening. It can be adapted for different age groups and group sizes. Ensure a safe and supportive environment for all participants to share their thoughts and feelings.

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