Jun 29

The Nod

Pride month draws to a close this weekend, so I thought I’d post this poem as a thank you to all those who have gone before me, and made my path safer as a result. I know I have a responsibility to keep making it safer for the generation after me, and I hope I am doing that in some small way. The poem is called The Nod, and the words are below if you need them.

We were walking in town my wife and I,
When an older gay couple caught my eye.
For a moment as they walked right by,
One looked straight at me, nodded and smiled.
I nodded right back and then thought as I walked,
How those nods weren’t just nods they were so much more…

A representation, a kind of me too,
A way of saying there are others like you.
That the path has been made and you’ll find your way,
That you’re not on your own, you’re not walking alone.

An affirmation of the love we’ve all found,
Shouted from rooftops without making a sound.
A celebration of love that was formed through struggle,
Refined by fire, flowers pushing through rubble.

A thank you for all you had to go through,
The battle you fought just to be you.
Your fight means I can be who I am,
That I can walk with my wife hand in hand.

I hope you remembered as you walked past,
That because of you every ceiling has smashed.
Please know that in us your legacy lasts,
That all you hoped for has come to pass.


Apr 19

Lyra Poetry Festival

Lyra is a brilliant poetry festival held in Bristol each year. As part of the festival there is a poetry slam. This is a poetry competition where poets battle it out to be crowned the Lyra Grand Slam winner! I was really pleased to make it through to the qualifying rounds this year, and via Zoom I performed a poem called ‘#NewProfilePic’…

At the qualifying rounds, each poet performs and is scored by a mix of scores from three judges (all professional poets) and votes from the audience. I was thrilled to make it through to the grand slam final! This was held at the iconic St Georges’ in Bristol, in front of hundreds of people watching both in person and via a livestream. It was an experience I’ll never forget – performing with so many other amazing poets on such a big stage! I chose to perform a poem that’s really important to me. It’s called ‘Little Jo’ and it’s me as an adult revisiting younger versions of myself, saying what I felt I might have needed to hear at those points in my life. You can see my performance in the video below. Check out for more information about the festival.


Apr 17

Little Jo

This is a poem I originally wrote years ago, but never felt able to share. The idea behind the poem is me as an adult, revisiting younger versions of myself to say the things I might have needed to hear at those points in my life. I often use refrains in my poetry, and the refrain in this one is there to separate the different versions of me, as well as acknowledging the fact that as a kid, if a random stranger came up to me and started giving me advice I probably wouldn’t hang around! So adult me would have to make it quick if they were going to catch me, and then make me listen.

I didn’t have an easy time as a kid, and there’s something profoundly meaningful about speaking out loud the things I needed to hear and know then, but didn’t. The voice I use is deeply self-compassionate and hopeful, but it’s also honest, firm and direct. I think I needed all of those types of voices growing up!

I found the original version of the poem again recently, and hated it. I hated it because so many of the lines and verses reflected a version of me that I’m trying so hard not to be now. I wrote lines and even whole verses about wrapping everything up into a nice little package of transformation for myself and others, communicating that one day everything will be perfect. I hinted that success meant I would eventually be TOTALLY FINE ALL OF THE TIME and would achieve all of these great things, that my value would come from those achievements and how I used my story to help others. Oh and of course that I would be this strong, unbreakable and independent person who didn’t need anyone’s help ever again.

So, I rewrote it. I love the concept and I think it has power so I didn’t want to bin it completely. But I have binned some of the messages I now recognise as toxic or unhealthy, and I’ve replaced some with a more realistic view of what it means to thrive and be whole, or at least my view of what that means.

Now, I love it, and it was great fun to perform it recently in front of a live audience at the 2024 Bristol Lyra Poetry Festival. You can read more about my involvement in that here. You can listen to the poem below, and if you need the words they’re also below. I hope you enjoy it, and I also hope that you have the opportunity to say some of the things that ‘Little You’ might have needed to hear.

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

Now I’m not a stranger and you’re not in any danger
Think of me as like your very own Power Ranger.
See I wouldn’t neglect or reject I’d protect you and
I’d interject when they disrespect you.
I’d be there at the hospital when they called your name
When they prodded and poked you and didn’t explain
When they tried in vain to take all that pain
Well I’d hold your little hand or play a silly game.

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

By now you’re a little older and the world’s grown a little colder
And the ways you feel different just seem to be getting bolder
As the weight of this world starts to rest on your shoulders.
I know the mould they’ve made for you just doesn’t fit
And it hurts and harms as you squeeze into it
Well eventually that mould will start to split
As you accept who you are bit by bit.

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

Now come the names, the stones and sticks
The lies, betrayals, punches and kicks.
I wish I could be there to tell you they’re wrong
They think you’re weak but I know you’re strong
You should never have faced that on your own
But I’m here to tell you you were never alone
You won’t get that yet but hang in there Jo
Cause this all turns around trust me I know.

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

Your eyes look at me now and they’re full of hate
Cause you’ve had enough there’s too much on your plate
Your heart’s been replaced by a solid dead weight
So to make it seem lighter you self-medicate.
You don’t want to know but you’ve got to learn
That in the morning the pain just returns
Like fighting the smoke while the fire still burns
It’ll never give you the peace you deserve.

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

Well you made your escape and I’ve gotta say well done
Cause I know there were times when it felt like they’d won
And those very same people said you’d never overcome
But where are they now? There’s none left no not one.
See you’re different now and you’re starting to dream
And you’re getting that help from the mental health team
You’re doing the work and fuck does it hurt
But it’ll heal you and help you feel your worth

Hey there little Jo, listen up before you go
Because I’ve got some things to tell you that I think you need to know.

I’m nearly done but before I leave
There’s something about pain you need to believe.
You long to be relieved from the stuff that you grieve
And although not naive it takes time to achieve.
Just hold on be patient and give it some time
If it was all done at once Jo you wouldn’t survive
But if you trust the process one day you’ll thrive
As what’s real and your dreams start to beautifully collide.

So see ya little Jo, I’m off now I’ll go
I hope these things I’ve told you are helpful for you to know.


Mar 29

The Crossing

When I walk to work I always walk across a pedestrian crossing. It’s near a primary school so it’s always very busy at the time I cross it, with others walking to work like me, and parents taking their kids to school. Very often there are queues of cars waiting to pass as so many people cross it frequently. I sometimes enjoy watching people cautiously step out onto the crossing, waving and thanking drivers on each side of the road. It’s probably a British thing isn’t it? That tendency to over-thank when someone does something relatively trivial for us, or in the case of a pedestrian crossing just not run us over with their car! Anyway there’s something cool about traffic stopping for you, about going first, about being the priority. This poem is about that.


Mar 24

Our Love Story* (*as told by WhatsApp)

It was my 8th wedding anniversary recently (11 years together!) and I was inspired to write this by another social media post I’d seen. If you press play below you can hear me introducing the poem which will help it to make sense! I really like how this poem captures the love in its most ordinary sense, the everyday, mundane moments alongside the life-altering, earth-shattering ones, good and bad.


Feb 21

Self-Care and Service

At Oasis Church Bath, as part of speaking series called ‘Hands In’, I explore how we can strike a healthy balance between looking after ourselves, and getting involved in our church and community hub.


Jan 03

Shepton Mallet Prison

It’s been a while since I’ve got my camera out and enjoyed a day just capturing something beautiful or interesting, so when I heard Shepton Mallet Prison was closing for good, I had to go! The prison closed as a working prison in 2013, but for the last few years has been open as a tourist attraction documenting its fascinating history, as well as offering tours and experiences such as escape rooms and even overnight stays.

Having spent most of my working life as a youth worker, some of which involved working in youth justice, I find some of the glamourising around prison and crime really uncomfortable. In my experience, working with young people in custody often meant working with very hurt and traumatised young people who had themselves often been victims of crime such as abuse or neglect.

That said, it’s important awareness is raised, stories are told and space is given to reflect, particularly around criminality and justice, and the urgent need for prison reform. There’s also something really powerful about entering a space you’re not normally allowed to enter. The vast majority of the population will never enter a prison, never see beyond its gates, walls and barbed wire. Stepping inside one and being able to wander, explore and visually document the space felt like a real privilege, a kind of ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.

What I mostly felt walking around and taking photos, was sadness. Sadness at how much pain there has been in that place – the pain caused by the people in custody here, and the harm done to them through an ineffective and outdated system that does little to repair or rehabilitate. I also felt strangely hopeful, mostly through the little details of beauty I found in some of the decaying and neglected spaces, and through the powerful metaphor of a closed prison where no one is locked up and all are free. We all have parts of us that hold the potential for harm and evil, and we all have things in us that keep us bound and locked up. We all have ways in which we long to be free. These photos remind me of the ability we have to escape what binds us, to recover, restore and repair. You can see the full set here, and some of my favourites below.


Nov 29

Candy Floss

For anyone finding it hard to hope, even when there are reasons to hope.

Today you tried to give me my hope back.
But I couldn’t take it, too afraid I’d break it,
Or watch it slip from my grip and feel its loss,
Like water poured on candy floss.

Today you tried to give me my hope back.
But it’s too bright, the light of it hurts my eyes.
It’s been gone for so long I’ve forgotten what it’s like,
Maybe darkness is better than fading light.

Today you tried to give me my hope back.
But my hands are full holding this shovel, as I struggle to clear the wreckage and rubble.
Memories of the dead still circling my head.
Why rebuild if it all just gets smashed up again?

Today you tried to give me my hope back.
Like a giggling kid holding candy floss,
Saying take it taste it just smile and embrace it.
But I’m filled with dread as I look up ahead,
Because clouds are forming over our heads.
The water will pour and next time take even more,
I can’t take more loss, can’t cope with the cost,
I’d rather go hungry than taste candy floss.


Nov 28

Reimagining Church Leadership

As part of a series at Oasis Church Bath called ‘What’s On Your Mind?’, I ask how we might reimagine what church leadership could look like in the light of a progressive theology. With failures around safeguarding and morality by prominent Christian leaders hitting the headlines recently, what can we learn and how should this change our approach at Oasis?


Nov 21

Explaining Evil

If we are born good and wired towards goodness, then how can we explain evil, and the choices we sometimes make that harm ourselves, others and the world around us? Is ‘original blessing’ just a way to avoid facing up to our mistakes, and how do we ensure it doesn’t stop us from continuing to seek wholeness and forgiveness?