I’ve adapted the Common Ground code and added a bit for our purposes. See what you think. Major thing is it involves the creation of a support group whose job it is to assist with any issues. We would need to discuss how this would work.
We are a community-initiated volunteer organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support to communities in Birmingham that are neglected and traditionally marginalized. The work gives hope to communities by working with them, providing for their immediate needs and emphasizing people working together to rebuild their lives in sustainable ways.
Cooperation Birmingham’s mission is to provide short-term relief for all those affected by the corona virus pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures. We recognise the need for material support for people to be able to continue following social distancing guidelines and self-isolation if they have been exposed to the virus. Some elements of this document were originally from Common Ground initiative providing aid to victims of hurricane Katrina in 2005 which were, in turn, adapted from SOUL (school of unity and liberation), the Ruckus Society and Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. We see them as a key influence and example for how to provide crisis aid.
Our backgrounds have not given many of us the tools to build just and sustainable society, so we have to recognize, learn from, and work with each other to build these visions and practices. These points provide us a starting place to work from, learning respect and trust to build stronger relationships and organization.
• Everyone has a piece of the truth, everyone can learn, everyone can teach or share something.
• Remember all of this is a process. What happens along the way is as important as the goals.
• Respect the work and abilities of others
• Create safe and inclusive environments for all.
• Take risks within yourself: Participate, give it a chance; have some trust to try new ideas.
• Critique inappropriate behaviours NOT the person. Remember, we are ALL still learning.
• Actively listen to each other: listen to what others are saying, before speaking. Be accountable to the people and communities we support and yourself.
• Speak only for yourself. Remember we all have different experiences and values to share.
• Step up, Step back: Give space for MANY voices to be heard.
• Avoid defensiveness: Be open to legitimate critique or challenges of ideas, patterns or behaviours.
• Mistakes will be made by all of us. None of us are perfect. Be aware of the effects of your actions on the communities and others around you.
• Challenge oppressive behaviour in a way that helps people grow.
• Take cues from people in the communities you are working with in the way you interact.
• If you see a behaviour that is inappropriate try to intervene yourself, don’t wait or expect someone else to address it instead. Be an advocate for others.
• Try not to use acronyms, abbreviations or jargon: It can make people to feel left out.
Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Guidelines
Cooperation Birmingham believe that all people have a right to be free of any form of harassment and oppression, and in particular, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical assault and other kinds of violence.
No volunteer is to threaten or insinuate, either explicitly or implicitly, that another volunteer or community members’ refusal or willingness to submit to sexual advances will affect their participation in the project.
All sexual contact between volunteers/community members be consented to prior to contact. Other sexually harassing or offensive conduct is not welcome in our project.
This conduct may include: Unwanted physical contact or conduct of any kind, including sexual flirtations, touching, advances, or propositions; Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, such as lewd comments, sexual jokes or references, and offensive personal references; Demeaning, insulting, intimidating, or sexually suggestive comments about an individual’s personal appearance; The display of demeaning, insulting, intimidating or sexually suggestive objects, pictures or photographs; Demeaning, insulting, intimidating, or sexually suggestive written, recorded, or electronically transmitted messages
Anyone who believes that another person’s actions or words constitute unwelcome harassment, should address that person directly if they feel safe and able to do so as well as let one of the support group know as soon as possible.
All complaints of harassment will be investigated promptly and in as impartial and confidential a manner as possible. Volunteers are asked to cooperate in any investigation. A timely resolution of each complaint should be reached and communicated to the parties involved.
If sexual violence or other forms of physical assault or domestic abuse are found to be happening between volunteers or others involved in the project the person committing these behaviours will be suspended from the organisation in the first instance – this means they won’t be able to take on any shifts or participate in meetings, decision making or online discussion. We can’t support victims/survivors directly, only direct them to other resources and forms of support they’re able to access. However, we will take accusations of this nature very seriously.
Any volunteer who is found to have violated the harassment policy may be asked to leave. As ever, sexual assault, rape or abuse may be subject to legal action if the persons involved wishes to report it.
Issues of conflicts arising between members/community
Please note this process and policy does not apply to things like sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical abuse and domestic abuse. See our sexual harassment and abuse prevention policy for this.
We recognise that, although we are all here to try and help, sometimes there are conflicts, issues, abuses and manipulations between volunteers, community members and others involved in the project somehow.
In the first instance, we ask that people try to act in accordance with our guidelines and respect others, offer them critique and accept critique from others in good faith. Don’t assume bad intentions and try to address things directly when they arise, if you feel able to. As stated, we’re all learning and we want to create an environment that empowers people to speak up and learn from each other.
As such, we won’t tolerate any harassment, inappropriate behaviours, oppressive actions or words, abuses of power or deliberate manipulations for personal gain. If you see this happening you have the power to address it, don’t wait for someone else to - especially if they are being hurt by it and feel less able to challenge because of power imbalances. We need to work together to support one another.
If these issues are not able to be resolved in the first instance, or seem to be repeating themselves, then here is a process you might want to follow to address it.
First of all, let someone in the support group know what’s been happening and what has been tried to address it so far. You need to tell us who the individuals involved are (including if the issue affects you or you’re letting us know on someone else’s behalf) and where they’re working with us at the moment (kitchen, driving, admin etc.). Here’s some questions it would be useful to answer for us:
-Who is involved and why?
-When did the behaviours or issues start? How long have they been going on? Where did they take place?
-Do the people involved have a prior history which affects what’s happening now? (e.g. they are family members, in a relationship/ex-partners, friends, work colleagues) if so, is this issue directly relevant to their work in the project?
-Have you spoken to them about this before? Why/why not? What were the results if so?
-What do you think would be a good resolution?
We are happy to just talk this through with you initially and help you try to come up with some solutions or ideas on how to go forward. We will to listen to you and try to understand your perspective. Ideally we would like to work directly with those involved and come up with a collective solution which everyone is okay with.
Some ways we might try and help include:
-discussing the issues with the person involved with the input of the person affected. This could be a one to one or the person affected could be present.
-facilitating and/or mediating a discussion as a neutral party with both (or multiple) people involved, allowing them to listen and hear one another’s views.
-trying to find ways for certain individuals to avoid working together for a time if they feel they cannot work together currently. We would expect this to be revisited every so often to see if it can change.
As a result of these processes we would try to work out how we can resolve the issues with a set of actions e.g. an apology, committing to changed behaviours and actions, changing the way things are done in the organisation.
It’s only possible to help and address people who are willing to participate in coming up with a solution. If you refuse to engage with a process for no good reason and your behaviour continues to be an issue we will have to consider suspending your involvement in the organisation. This means you won’t be doing any shifts with us and cannot participate in meetings or decision-making until you agree to engage with us on the issues with your behaviour. We want to help but that means you need to cooperate with us.