Code of conduct for coop brum activites

Hey all, @Leo mentioned to me about a code of conduct used by mutual aid disaster relief in the U.S for volunteers and people involved in the project. It sounds great and something very useful for volunteers who are being on boarded to be guided by alongside the health and safety protocols as we have more and more people getting involved. Here is the document : https://mutualaiddisasterreliefsite.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mutual-aid-disaster-relief-welcome-packet-20171.pdf starting page 7.

Would anyone be up for helping/ leading on rewriting it so it fits for our project?

There’s a much shorted version of this in the book Black Flags and Windmills. I will type it up and put it on here.

At the moment, all we have is:
https://cooperationbirmingham.org.uk/who-we-are/

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Here is the Common Ground one from 2005:

Common Ground Documents

Vision/Mission October 2005 VISION

We are a community-initiated volunteer organization offering assistance, mutual aid and support to communities 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.

MISSION

Common Ground’s mission is to provide short-term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the Gulf Coast region, and long-term support in rebuilding the communities affected in the New Orleans area. Working with Respect October 2005 Some elements of this document were originally adaptedfrom SOUL (school of unity and liberation), the Ruckus Society and Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond. I began adapting and using these elements with many organizations over the years since 2000.

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 on new ideas.
  • Critique inappropriate behaviors 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 behaviors.
  • Mistakes will be made by all of us. None of us is perfect. Be aware of the effects of your actions on the communities and others around you.
  • Challenge oppressive behavior 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 behavior that is inappropriate intervene, don’t wait for someone else to address it.
  • Don’t use alcohol or drugs in places where they can endanger people. (These have been historical problems).
  • Don’t use acronyms: It can make people to feel left out.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Guidelines November 2005

Common Ground believes that all people have a right to be free of any form of harassment and oppression, and in particular, sexual harassment.

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 Common Ground.

All sexual contact between volunteers/community members be consented to prior to contact. Other sexually harassing or offensive conduct is not welcome at Common Ground.

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 as well as let one of the coordinators 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.

Common Ground treats false accusations, which can be incredibly destructive, equally seriously. Any volunteer who is found to have violated the harassment policy may be asked to leave. Proven sexual assault may be subject to legal action.

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This looks great - obviously it needs some editing but I’m happy with a short bullet point structure. I think it’s more important that people understand it and have a chance to read it than that it covers every possibility and has the correct wording.

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The Common Ground code of conduct looks really good, I agree we can take most of it. How is the adaptation going?

I think it could also be useful to write up a short procedure that might be followed if there’s any issues between volunteers/members or community members. Nothing complicated just - we will talk to the person who brings forward the issues, try to contact the person/people they’ve had an issue with and discuss matter with them. If they don’t cooperate we stop giving them shifts until a resolution is come to.

I have been thinking a bit about emotional support for volunteers who may have to be in difficult situations. I know some of the backroom phone calls can get a bit heavy and maybe drivers interactions with recipients. Obviously we can’t be counsellors/therapists and deal with all the stuff in people’s lives but maybe just someone they can have a wee debrief to? Could be a rotating role.

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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.

Vision/Mission

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.

MISSION
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.

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I like it in general, although as I said in the other topic, I think it could be merged with our principles. Also, I think our vision and aim should be a bit more ambitious. If we limit ourselves to providing material relief, Cooperation Birmingham will struggle to survive when the Warehouse Cafe opens and many people go back to work. Thus, I think we need to look beyond and complement our material focus with an aim to achieve some socio-political influence and creating new commoning subjectivities. How to operationalise this is a difficult question, but I think we could discuss it on Friday.

I think the other sections are really good!

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I would say lets implement it immediately and then we can review and modify it later?

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