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Our People

Meet the humans helping to build the #EmpathyGeneration

Photo - Founder Ed with Reid Street Primary students in Darlington, UK!

A message from our founder

From teacher to filmmaker

"If everyone feels that they belong, if they feel seen, heard and understood then they will thrive. Wellbeing, academics and relationships - all of them will improve."


Every year I'm asked "Why empathy?"

It's simple. Empathy is the most vital skill that we can be developing because it underpins wellbeing, relationships and our ability to connect as well as other important skills such as leadership, creativity and communication. 

Empathy is a 21st century survival skill. In an evermore globalised world, we need to be able to communicate and work with those from all nationalities, backgrounds and ethnicities - even if we don't agree. It's so vital for building relationships, whether they are personal or professional.

The evidence is amounting, the research is strengthening. We know that empathy increases creativity, it can even help reduce racial bias and has a role to play in reducing cyberbullying. This is just some of the latest research that has shown a light on the power of developing the empathetic skill set in the past few years - not to mention our own research with Cambridge University.

Empathy Week exists to build the skill of empathy in students and build an #EmpathyGeneration. A generation that seeks to understand before acting, that is trained in conflict avoidance, that can see the perspectives of others and becomes more selfless for the greater good. There is a reason Forbes and the World Economic Forum are highlighting empathy as the most important leadership skill.

Empathy Week exists to also be exciting, inspiring and move students into action. I've seen the power that it has by visiting Sundarmala and Sangam, students living in Kathmandu, in February 2022. Winning the Global Empathy Award in 2021, Sundarmala told me how it changed her father's view on her own and girls education. Winning the award turned her father into a supporter of her education rather than a critic. It's just one example of our work transcending school premises and impacting whole school communities.

I've been a teacher, I understand the struggles of the classroom and so do my team. It's even harder in 2023/24 than ever before. It's why now we're able to produce a festival so detailed, research-led and captivating. Join us as we continue to build the #EmpathyGeneration in 2024.


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Meet the team

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Ed Kirwan
Founder & CEO

Will Craven
Events, Marketing and Communications Manager

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Katie Webb
Head of Partnerships

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Nilema Bhakta-Jones 
Board Advisor

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Myriam Coupard  
Board Advisor

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Shaun Bhakta-Jones 
Board Advisor

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Sara Milne Rowe 
Board & Leadership Advisor

Andy Galloway
Board Advisor

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Dr. Helen Demetriou
Empathy & Research Advisor

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Dr. Claire Yorke
Empathy Advisor

Empathy is about believing someone even if your experiences don't match up with theirs.

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