“We have a pretty revolutionary idea – to listen to each other...”
What we believe.
We believe in the power of real stories being shared and listened to, and their potential to act as a catalyst for social transformation. One of our greatest resources in promoting social inclusion at the micro level is listening to lived experience of specific barriers. We may not all have direct experience but we can all listen to someone who has, we can all take that insight and use it to make real changes in our own spheres of influence.
How we hope to do this.
Our aim is to provide platforms for a range of life experiences to be shared and listened to, where the purpose of listening is to understand first and then to act. Under the broad umbrella of social inclusion, we aim to have a focus area each month, which will include race, gender, poverty, class, disability, and any other identifiers, which act as a barrier to social inclusion.
For each focus area we will organise groups, in a few different formats, to ensure a range of opportunities for accessibility and engagement depending on an individual’s preference, personality and life experience. Each group will have a facilitator trained by us, to ensure that each voice is respected and members have opportunities to share their own lived experiences while simultaneously listening to differing views and stories.
To provide an anchor to the discussion, one or more written pieces relevant to the focus area will be shared in advance. Those attending will be required to read at least one, to ensure a meaningful discussion. The facilitator will guide the conversation and ask leading questions, based on the texts.
Featuring a speaker with lived experience of the focus area. The facilitator will interview them and the group can participate as much or as little as they feel comfortable doing. This will be an ideal opportunity for people who may not want to speak but still want to listen.
Coffee and a Chat.
Does what it says on the tin. Every effort will be made to bring together people with varied experiences of the focus area, to ensure richness of conversations. This will have the least structure, but will have a facilitator to ensure the values are adhered to.
This will ensure that whatever an individual’s preferred engagement style, there is a way for them to join the conversation. The focus in safe spaces will always be on lived experience, rather than a portrayal of ideological views.
Size of the group: 5-8 (including facilitators)
Format: Groups will primarily be virtual to ensure we can connect people at a global level. In addition to this, we may consider running in-person groups at later stages.
Safe Spaces are designed to have an impact both in the group and beyond, by training our minds to listen effectively. We believe that while we can expose people to stories, the real work must be internal and personal. However, we will support this individual learning by sharing a range of resources with participants to ensure they leave with life skills to effectively impact their spheres of influence.
- Pre-group: Each person who signs up for a group will be sent a
Resource Pack, to help them make the most of the experience.
Depending on the topic and format, this may include recommended reading, videos, speaker profiles, and listening best practices.
- Post-Group: After each group concludes, all the attendees will be sent a journal template to support reflection and individual application. We will also share further reading and listening recommendations, with practical suggestions for actions.
Our resources are intended to be an aid to prompt individual thinking and are not prescriptive guides. We strongly believe that for change to be sustainable, it must be personal. Each of us needs to do the work!
- Empower ordinary people to be change makers
- Learning to really listen, both in the group and beyond
- Giving platforms to people who have negotiated social barriers when are ready to tell their stories
Creating a safe space for each individual in the group means we will require each person to abide by the following:
Respect: Life experiences you hear in the groups may surprise you or contradict your worldview and that is exactly why we are doing this. While we will never ask you to agree, we do ask that you listen.
Confidentiality: Anything shared in a safe space, stays there. There may be cases where we share quotes from discussions with the aim of sharing learning wider. However, this will always be done with consent and anonymised.
Focus on the story: Instead of jumping to solutions and actions, these groups will be a space to pause and listen. Everyone who wants to speak can, but there will never be any pressure to talk.
We are very aware of the sensitivities in sharing lived experiences, and will follow
the following steps to ensure each individual is safe.
- Personal Contact Information will never be shared externally or with other members of the groups.
- Confidentiality Agreements will be sent to everyone who registers for a group. These will be legally binding and mandatory for attendance.
- While we do not currently have the in-house resources to provide counselling, we will signpost to counselling services for anyone who may need to access them.
Join the Movement.
When we designed Spaces one of our main aims was to create a social movement where everyone has a place and can get involved.
Here are a few ideas of how you can become an ally:
- Follow us on Social Media
- Tell your story
- Sign up to a safe spaces group
- Spread the word with your network
- Share resources you have found useful
- Speak to us about creating inclusive organisational strategies