Media Release: Roll up, roll up! Discover your inner circus character – and learn how to #KeepTheHeid


CONTACT:  Catriona Regan, 07746752596

PHOTOS AVAILABLE: Circus of Life images. Credit Hannah Foley, Owling About.

INTERVIEWS: Interviews with the SCCR’s Diane Marr and Dr Sara Watkin are available.

WHEN faced with difficult situations or interactions, are you a contortionist who is balanced and measured? Or a human cannonball flying out of control? Or are you maybe more of a lion tamer, acrobat or clown?

Modern life can sometimes feel a bit like a circus – you never know what (or who) is round the corner.

Begins a spokesperson: “The brain plays a vital role in how we react to situations and how we manage our emotions. When you flip your lid and respond in anger it can escalate conflict and do untold damage to relationships.

“Every year in Scotland, 5,000 young people become homeless because of family conflict and relationships breaking down (1).

“The Edinburgh Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (2) (SCCR) is a national mediation resource centre, focusing on young people and families, and through its national campaign, free training, events and innovative online resources (3) is changing the culture of conflict in Scotland.”

The SCCR – in partnership with Dr Sara Watkin (4) – have now developed a new online resource, #KeepTheHeid.

Through a series of questions, the quiz unveils what circus character you are most like at any particular time.

It then challenges users to take the quiz again and encourages a true understanding of how our brain works when under pressure – before assisting with what can be done to stop the downward spiral.

The #KeepTheHeid quiz launched today (Wednesday) at the annual SCVO Gathering event (5) to an audience made up from Scotland’s education, health and social care sectors as well as other voluntary and Third Sector organisations.

The spokesperson added: “The science behind the quiz is inspired by Dr Dan Siegel. In his Flipping Your Lid (6) theory, he documents that the thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex) which processes perception and logical reasoning regulates the emotional brain (brain stem and limbic area).

“When your buttons are pushed, the connections between the thinking and emotional brains start to go awry, and if these become completely disconnected we flip our lids and lose control.

“Importantly, the quiz also provides practical ways to learn how to better manage your emotions and avoid angry outbursts. These include taking time out to consider what is at the root of your anger by naming and taming it, or questioning what is more important – being right or rescuing a relationship.”

Dr Sara Watkin joined the SCCR onstage to talk through the brain science behind flipping your lid as well as the physical and emotional impact anger can have, and how we can learn to better manage our emotions.

The audience was one of the first to take the interactive quiz which encourages users to share their results on social media and in return they will discover the percentage of others who share the same characteristics. Periscope viewers can also take part in the talk, the quiz and share their results – the recording will last 24 hours.

#KeepTheHeid has already garnered support from high profile leaders including Karyn McClusky – Violence Reduction Unit, Tam Baillie – The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland   Karen Young – Hey Sigmund and John Loughton – Dare2Lead.

Diane Marr, network development manager at the SCCR, said: “People see and understand things differently, but some strong emotions – particularly anger – can take hold of us and change the way we see ourselves and how others see us. Everyone is unique but we are all in this together – and we are all responsible for how we interact and react to situations. It’s important that we try and put ourselves in other people’s shoes and empathise.

“Anger is often covering up other emotions such as feeling unheard, lonely or rejected. Of course, strong emotions are valid and important for flight or flight situations, but in healthy safe relationships they can do long-lasting damage.

“We can’t ignore the connections between family conflict, youth homelessness and the huge socio economic impact this has on society at large. We all need to try to understand each other and ask why we sometimes flip our lids, and learn instead how to #KeepTheHeid. By taking the quiz and sharing it, we are on the road to recognising this and making important changes.”

Dr Sara Watkin also commented: “Most of us want to live amongst caring people, not hot heads. But to produce generations of sorted-out individuals, the people caring for children, from infants to adolescents, must be able to open up and tune into their thoughts and feelings (theirs and the child’s).

“Mother and baby share rhythms. The delight heard in the giggles that emerge at around three months corresponds to structural brain developments. This ‘you delight in me’ conversation nurtures confidence. It is the basis for forming relationships that matter.

“Get this wrong (or don’t get it at all) and you are on a path to producing teenagers who feel lost, misunderstood and unsafe.

“In the United Kingdom, children are suffering from increasing rates of depression and anxiety and we need to ask why. It may seem as though there is no quick fix for resolving conflict but we need to try.”

ENDS – For media enquiries contact Catriona Regan 07746752596

Notes for editors:

  • In 2013/14, 8,435 young people (16-24 year-olds) were assessed as homeless or potentially homeless and of them 4,750 became homeless due to relationship breakdown. Source: Scottish Government.
  • The Cyrenians Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution is recognised as Scotland’s first-ever national mediation resource centre. It is a national resource promoting and supporting best practice in family conflict resolution and early intervention. It aims to improve relationships and lives and reduce youth homelessness by addressing the biggest cause – relationship breakdown. Cyrenians is an independent Scottish charity (number SC011052) with an outstanding track record in pioneering creative solutions to the contemporary problems faced by people on the margins of society, such as; homelessness, poverty, unemployment, recovery from addiction and recidivism.
  • The SCCR launched in early April 2014. Since then it has delivered 66 training sessions to over 1,000 (1,004 specifically) attendees (635 prof, 242 young people, 120 parents/carers) across 27 of Scotland’s local authorities. 85 per cent of delegates felt that SCCR training gave them an increased skills base in relation to family conflict resolution, and 87 per cent had an increased knowledge base in relation to family conflict resolution. 84 per cent of delegates feel more confident post training about supporting families in conflict. To contact the SCCR, you can call on 0131 475 2493 or
  • Dr Sarah Watkin, see below for biogs…
  • The Gathering is a free annual event organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). It is acknowledged as the largest Third Sector event in the UK! Organised every year by SCVO, it’s a place for people working in the Third Sector to network, showcase what they do and learn from each other. It’s also a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in finding out more about the third sector to come along and get involved. There’s a bustling exhibition and marketplace with over 100 exhibitors, and a packed programme featuring more than 60 workshops, seminars and training sessions.
  • See below Biographies for Dr Dan Siegel’s and link to ‘Flipping your lid’ theory.


Dr Sara Watkin, doctor and medical adviser

Sara is a specialist in chronic pain and it’s relation to trauma. She is fascinated by the effect of cultural influences and illness narratives on health behaviour and the use of the creative arts to achieve shifts in perception.

Sara completed her post-graduate training at The London School of Contemporary Dance, trained in Psychiatry, Osteopathy and General Practice in Glasgow and London and returned to Scotland in 2006. Whilst a GP, Sara questioned traditional medical assumptions regarding how early childhood experiences shape one’s mind, personality, relationships, and nervous system throughout life.

She is now a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services speciality doctor, where she also encounters the personal cost to families of inter and intra-generational conflict.

She is committed to a bio-psychosocial model, effective multidisciplinary team working, and creative, culturally sensitive assets-based approaches to community health. She thrives on the cross pollination of ideas and experiences.

Sara is a medical adviser for Scottish Adoption, Barnardo’s and Carolina House Trust.

Dr Dan Siegel

Please see link for Dr Dan Siegel’s biography

Please see link to Flipping the lid’ theory


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