“If I hadn’t Huddled, I might never have…”

What difference can joining a peer group make to people’s lives over time?

Zahra Davidson
8 min readAug 15, 2023


I asked 9 Huddle participants, who all completed their Huddles several years ago, to send me a voicenote sharing what might never have happened in their lives, if they hadn’t huddled.

Conveying the multi-layered and sometimes intangible benefits that peer groups can have is an ongoing communication challenge!

When the benefits are tangible it’s easy. Like Julian Thompson, who started Rooted (a Social Design House, centring the experiences, needs and futures of UK Black communities) as part of a Huddle in 2018/19. To begin with it was a side-hustle, now it’s his full-time occupation and still going strong.

Or Tamika Abaka-Wood, who created the Dial-An-Ancestor phoneline through the ‘Unraveling Time’ Huddle. It’s a long-term participatory audio installation, activated by ancestors past, present and future. You can dial the number and listen — or add your voice.

It’s important that Huddles help people create tangible things, if that’s what they want to do. But I think it’s equally important that Huddles support all the other benefits too: the sense of purpose, the courage, the friendships, the collaborations that lead to income streams, the new professional pathways, the big life goals like buying a house, the wellbeing and mental health benefits, the ability to replicate peer-to-peer approaches.

You can listen to some of these voicenotes in the reel below, or read the full transcript, because there was waaay more good stuff than would fit within a minute ❤.

Manisha Pandey

A lifelong artwork which Manisha began to craft whilst participating in a Huddle

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I might never have had so much sober fun as an adult, playful fun with a group of people I didn’t already know. I feel like huddling is like being a child again, in a good way.
  • I might never have experienced what peer-to-peer education really looks and feels like, and how inspiring it can be.
  • I might never have started a making project (which is stitching a backpack and creating the contents) that I’m planning on continuing throughout my life.
  • I might never have begun claiming and speaking about my mental health episodes, outside of therapy. My Huddle group made me feel that I had a story to tell and that I should, and could, tell it.
  • I might never have applied for a job opportunity that I found out about through a peer in the Huddle, that was quite different to what I’d been doing, but really suited me and was probably one of my favourite jobs.

Reuben Christian

Reuben hosting Dream Rehab Live, a show that’s opening up ‘so many more opportunities’

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I just wouldn’t be on parr!
  • I wouldn’t have learnt that the answer to many of my challenges was community.
  • I would have stayed isolating myself doing the same old stuff and being stuck with the same old frustrations, and not being able to move forward personally, relationally or professionally.
  • I would not have made the new friends that have collectively made up my new tribe, which informs me on what direction to take with my skills and capacities.
  • I wouldn’t have landed on the project that is so aligned to who I am and how I want to serve the world, which is ‘edutainment’. I wouldn’t have known that mixing education and entertainment is even possible, let alone tried it, let alone built a show that has opened up so many more opportunities for my work, and is therefore allowing me to live a better quality of life!
  • I would have been in the same routines and patterns that kept me stuck, frustrated and doubting myself.
  • I wouldn’t have met an amazing group of souls that helped me think differently, break old patterns and move into new spaces, which has allowed me to find the intersection that I thrive in, which has allowed me to do some of the most interesting work I’ve done, build a show, build a curriculum, open new pathways to earn money, which has allowed me to BUY A HOUSE as a freelancer, and has also afforded me a great tribe of friends that I will keep coming back to, time and time again, to share my challenges with, to feel humanised and to also find new ways to grow and thrive.
  • I’d be the same dude being stuck doing the same rubbish! Rubbish is a strong word, but that’s how I feel man, if I hadn’t huddled I don’t think I would have grown to the next level of who I am and what I’m doing.

Iacob Bacian

Iacob performing at the Roundhouse in London

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I would never have performed at the Roundhouse and the Conway Hall in London.
  • I would have never built incredible creative friendships exploring healing, trans-ness, spirituality, dance, performance, periods, writing.
  • I would have never had the support of a whole community to raise funds for my top surgery crowdfunder, through donations, being supported to organise karaoke, tarot readings and DJ nights!
  • I would have never taken my poetry writing seriously or published my work in a poetry anthology launched at Waterstones.
  • I wouldn’t have learnt to make uplifting the work of others a daily practice.
  • I wouldn’t have been part of a slack community that regularly leads to collaborations with other coaches, job opportunities and creative events to join.
  • I wouldn’t have been as open to seek out knowledge and experience from different sectors and practices to learn how it might better my practice as a designer and coach.
  • I would have never experienced a learning programme that moves away from the teacher student dynamic and centres the knowledge of the people in the room…
  • Or a learning programme that manages to embed community care in people’s behaviours from the get go, and maintains this throughout and beyond the programme.
  • I would have never been as generous, as kind, as able to ask for help and as able to offer help.

Kate Weiler

Kate at Huddle Camp in 2021

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I would never have met many different friends, freelance collaborators and a number of people who have turned into cat sitters for my house!
  • I wouldn’t have learnt how to set up the giving and receiving of feedback in a truly creative and generative way, that I continue to use and draw on in all sorts of contexts.
  • I think I would have continued to try and hold lots of things myself and to try and take responsibility for things happening myself, rather than really seeing the power of distributing responsibility and leadership.
  • I wouldn’t now be hosting my own Huddle, Turning Points, for people in Exeter and Devon who are navigating big changes in their life or work.

Matt Weatherall

A participant at Special Guest, an open mic night that Matt founded during his Huddle

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I wouldn’t have the confidence to start an open mic night in London that’s still going 5 years on.
  • I wouldn’t have learnt how to lemon joust!
  • I would never have spent that time with those people who I learnt so much from.
  • I would never have huddled!

Daniel Ford

Dan with some of the Huddlecraft core team after he joined in winter 2022

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I would never have met some of the coolest people and collaborators I know.
  • I might never have experientially understood the power of learning in a peer-to-peer way, something I’m now deeply committed to.
  • I might never have started working for Huddlecraft! And be continuously learning and developing my career around this work.
  • I might never have experienced a different way of working and relating to people that has basically changed who I am and how I work in the world.
  • I might never have furthered my personal learning around power, human connection, collaboration and play, in ways that underpin so much of what I’m doing now and how I do it.
  • I might never have stood up in front of 50 people at Huddle Camp and sang old macdonald with a rainbow painted on my face!

Amir Hajizimani

Amir at Huddle Camp in 2021

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I might never have started writing online to share my stories.
  • I might never have dared to share my poetry on a stage.
  • I might never have met so many people at once that I feel I could call upon at any time in the future, no matter how long it has been or how often I’ve seen them.
  • I might not have done things that make me believe I could be an artist!

Dave Heinemann

Dave on a run from Manchester to Sheffield w. a peer from the Father Figures Huddle

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I would never have met some of the bravest, kindest, most playful people I feel fortunate to now know, and even sometimes work with.
  • I would never have felt real community was even possible for someone like me, in this mad, fragmented, dislocated world.
  • Maybe I never would have shared some of my deepest struggles, and discovered that they’re far from mine alone.
  • I might never have hosted 3 Huddles myself and participated in a Huddle for fathers.

Katie Slee

Katie and her ‘Maker’s Marathon’ Huddle group at their showcase event

If I hadn’t huddled…

  • I would never have created my installation, the ‘living the question’ room, a giant upholstered cube cum sitting room filled with artefacts from my explorations. It felt so magic seeing people enter that space.
  • I would never have learned to live differently. My first Huddle was all about disrupting my ways of being, and with the backing of my peers I dabbled in clowning, cheffing, CBT, cycle touring and self generated ceremony.
  • I would never have gone on to host my own Huddle, the Maker’s Marathon, a peer-led adventure for artists and makers.
  • I would never have been buddied up with an artist, an anthropologist, an architect.
  • I would never have remembered how much I love keeping a sketchbook.
  • I would never have gone on to work with Huddlecraft in a myriad of ways, as a host and a designer, designing the Huddlecraft brand and helping with events and training programmes which have enriched my career so deeply.
  • I would never have sung on stage in front of 50 people at Huddle Camp. Where did that come from?!

To infuse your own life with purpose, creativity and connection, have a look at the Huddles currently open for application, there’s something for almost everyone, and every Huddle is unique.

If you previously huddled and you’d like to add your own voicenotes to this library, I would LOVE to receive them! Drop me a line at zahra@huddlecraft.com

A massive thank you to those who sent me their responses, and for everyone who has breathed life and vibrancy into the Huddle structure.