Who we are
ThemPra is a team of currently 5 ‘ThemPrinis’ based in different parts of the UK and continental Europe: Sylvia Holthoff lives in Berlin, Gabriel Eichsteller resides in Greystones (just south of Dublin), Alexandra Priver is based in Chelmsford, Andy Carter in Cumbria, and Charlotte Firing lives on the outskirts of Copenhagen.
Below you can find more about each of us at a professional, personal and private level.
Back in 2007, Sylvia and Gabriel developed and facilitated the first social pedagogy seminars in the UK for the pilot project run by the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care and funded by the Social Education Trust (SET). As part of that project Robyn Kemp introduced us to residential child care in the UK. Through this we also met Mike Tidball, former trustee of the SET, who helped us set up ThemPra and acted as third director and company secretary until his retirement in July 2010.
Since then ThemPra has grown, and we’ve met many more people who have become friends and supporters. Robyn Kemp and Alex Priver started work with us on the Essex project as co-facilitators in early 2009 and 2010 respectively. Andy Carter joined us in August 2010 with lots of excitement and creative ideas to take over Mike’s role and expand it further. Charlotte Firing began her introduction to the world of ThemPra in February 2011 and has quickly become an important contributor to our projects, especially the EU Leonardo Mobility. And Anthony Moorcroft, who was one of the participants on our NCERCC social pedagogy course back in 2007, came on board in April 2015, having collaborated with us on the EU Leonardo Mobility projects before. Since January 2016, Robyn is no longer a permanent part of the ThemPra team but continues to be connected to us as an external consultant. Having been intricately involved with ThemPra for 7 years, she has played a substantial role in supporting the development of social pedagogy in many of our pioneering projects, in shaping us as an organisation and in contributing to the discourse around social pedagogy in the UK as one of the leading voices with her unique expertise. We’re therefore really pleased that she continues to remain closely connected to the world of social pedagogy as part of her role as Director of the Centre for Social Work Practice.
As a social enterprise we have been committed to serving a wider purpose and being an organisation with a difference from the start. In coaching other organisations to develop social pedagogy within their practice and culture, we feel strongly that social pedagogical principles must also apply to the ways we work as an organisation both externally and internally. We want to nurture authentic relationships, focus on strengths and potential, create meaningful learning, encourage a sense of empowerment and celebrate the profound sense of joy that comes from making a positive difference. Our journey towards becoming a TEAL organisation – described by Frederic Laloux in his influential book Reinventing Organizations as self-managing, soulful and purpose-driven organisations – is now enabling us to translate these principles more effectively into our own structures and internal practices in ways that feel very congruent with what attracted us to ThemPra in the first place. We’ve always been purpose-driven, and now feel even more encouraged to make our purpose central to everything and listen more to it. We have also aspired to provide a soulful organisational culture in which we each can bring in all our sides as human beings and form authentic relationships – and in our experience this has been one of the most important reasons for our success as a pioneering organisation. As a virtual team engaged in a variety of projects, our different team members have always shown a high level of self-management. As an emerging teal organisation we now see self-management not just as a necessity but value it even more as an asset. Adopting the advice process to make decisions has meant that we make better decisions, make them faster and more inclusively and that we all feel trusted to take responsibility. We’ve been fortunate to have found an excellent external consultant in Judy Rees whose support has helped us develop towards a TEAL organisation and has offered us a clear sense of direction and connectedness both to our inner motivations and to a wider movement – a sense that what we do as an organisation has a sound foundation, that we’re not successful despite the ways in which we operate but because of them. Frederic Laloux’s research has been truly inspirational and, together with Judy’s brilliant coaching, provided us with new ideas and ways to work through the challenges that characterise meaningful change. We’re always happy to share more insights into our journey towards TEAL and to support other organisations in reinventing themselves. Please feel free to get in touch with us to find out more.