Who we are

Ansuz Action is Helen Wallis-Dowling and Ruth Parkinson. Helen and Ruth are long time colleagues and friends.  We each have over 25 years experience of working with people, teams, communities and organisations.  We enjoy working together and we’re an effective, creative and knowledgeable team.  
And fun to work with!

About Helen

Helen Wallis-Dowling

I am a freelance facilitator and coach with 25 years of experience and a passion for working alongside communities. This has included one to one coaching and mentoring with people of all ages and from all walks of life, facilitating youth-led social action and community organising projects, advising organisations on inclusive community engagement, and leading the curriculum development and training for two national government funded community organising programmes. The underlying goal of my work is radical transformation that improves fairness, equality, and wellbeing, both for the individual and the collective.

My working life has been mainly in the in education, local government, and the voluntary sector. I have worked as both as youth and community practitioner as well as a project manager and have poured that experience into developing training and qualifications as well as overseeing the learning and professional development of practitioners, trainers and organisations in the community organising arena. More recently, I was a consultant and mentor on the community organising approach use in a housing development project led by Nationwide Building Society. I also deliver workshops on political perspectives in communities, power, and empowerment to Social Work degree students for Southampton Solent University. And in my spare time, I have also been involved in setting up several projects and social enterprises in my own community.

I have a BSc in Social Economics; a PG Dip in Community Education and I am a professionally qualified youth and community worker. I am also qualified in Assessment and Quality Assurance as well as Information, Advice and Guidance. I am an ILM Accredited Action Learning Facilitator. I have been trained in numerous training, facilitation and coaching methods, including Training for Transformation, PTLLs, Master Facilitator, Narrative Therapy, NLP and Internal Family Systems for Coaching. I am a certified self-belief coach and a member of the Association for Coaching.

My interests are local politics, cooking, walking, and lifting heavy weights.

About Ruth

Ruth ParkinsonI am an experienced change facilitator, coach and project manager. My practice takes a people-based systems approach as I believe that’s the best way to create and maintain organisations, projects and societies that are radical in the best kind of ways, sustainable, happy, equal and fair.My career experience has felt very rich in terms of my passion, experience, learning and outcomes – I’ve loved it all. After university I worked for 5 years in the private sector in FTSE 100 companies, followed by 14 years in higher education, lecturing in organisational behaviour and leading executive education programmes in change management. The last 17 years have been spent project managing in third sector organisations and partnerships including the New Economics Foundation, Locality and the Centre for Thriving Places. During this time I’ve been involved in community-led economic development, community organising on a grand scale and the development of new measures of prosperity to replace GDP. Much of my work has been in the fertile space of innovative new forms of engagement and social action.I hold a BA in English and American Literature, masters degrees in Communications Studies and in Responsibility and Business Practice, and a PhD in organisational disruption. I’m trained in numerous facilitation and development methods, including Art of Hosting, Narrative Therapy, Action Learning, systemic facilitation and Constellations. I’m also a certified self-belief coach and member of the ICF.I love football, cycling, being outdoors, gardening, style, culture and the North.

What our clients say

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Working with Ruth and Helen completely changed the way I look at public engagement – for the better. So often, large scale housing development projects fail to engender meaningful connections with local communities but Ruth and Helen upended our processes and put local residents and issues firmly at the centre of all of our thinking. I would love to see Community Organising reach much further into the world of real estate and I would use or recommend Ruth and Helen’s services again without hesitation.

— Claire Bennie
Founder, Municipal Agency Ltd

I can highly recommend both Ruth and Helen. They were both fantastic to work with and enormously skilled. We were immensely impressed at how they managed to win the trust of so many stakeholders, dissect engagement barriers and identify opportunities for moving forward in a very short amount of time. The work that they have done has contributed subsequently to help us better understand the needs of the industry, our own staff and how we can better actualise our engagement ambitions. As a consequence of their work, we have been able to identify training gaps and again with their help been able to set up a pilot to be able to understand how to address this to better develop productive and sustainable relationships with the fishing industry.

— Dr Rebecca Korda
Senior Policy Advisor, Natural England

As a volunteer led Community Interest Company in only our second year of operation, Ruth and Helen helped give us the tools needed to formalise our short- and long-term objectives and organisational structure – allowing us to use our resources more efficiently. They very quickly understood the nuances of our organisation and the specific challenges we faced. As skilled facilitators, they held a series of three short online workshops with our full collective of 12, helping us identify the questions we needed to resolve to help us to move forward as an organisation.

— Alice Brownfield
Director, Peter Barber Architects, and co-chair Part W

I really value my membership of the Organising for Power Circle. Helen and Ruth are a great source of advice and encouragement, particularly at times when it can be difficult to see the value of my organising efforts. They support but also challenge, helping me to see different perspectives and consider different approaches. Their experience and insight has been incredibly important in helping to guide the expansion of our community organising efforts, and I look forward to continuing with my membership.

— Dan Oliver
senior community organiser, Starting Point

ansuz runeYou might be wondering what on earth ‘Ansuz’ (pronounced ann-suhz) is all about.  Well, we were casting around for a name and at a risk of being a bit up ourselves, decided to go with an Icelandic rune.  Runes are an early simple writing and meaning system and, it is said, also act as magic charms. The rune Ansuz is associated with ‘reason, analysis and advice, connecting and networking, inspiration and listening to oneself and one’s own particular inner voice’.  So there we are. 

For more see http://runesecrets.com/rune-meanings/ansuz

Get in touch

Do email us if you’d like to explore how we can support you and your programme or organisation. We’d love to hear from you.
Also please connect if you are doing similar or complementary work – let’s share ideas and action.