Christmas – the most wonderful time of the year!

christmas tree with baubles

Trees are twinkling under lights and tinsel. Turkey dinners are being planned and prepped. Family and friends are gathering for the holiday festivities.

Unfortunately, Christmas may not be as wonderful if you are one of the estimated 1.3 million women affected by domestic abuse in the last twelve months. Domestic abuse doesn’t stop just because it is Christmas. For those recovering from the trauma of abuse, it can be a dark and difficult time.

Women staying at The Haven often worry about how they will buy gifts for their child, having fled their own homes with nothing, and children can often feel sad that their Christmas looks very different to that of their classmates at school. For many of the families at The Haven, it is the first Christmas they have spent away from their home and family; making it even more difficult.

pexels-photo-257910.jpegAt The Haven we try to provide an authentic Christmas experience for the women and children we support.  At each of our refuges we create a magical grotto, where Mum’s and children can come to choose gifts to take away and wrap for one another. We encourage lots of festive activities too; from Santa visits, to cookie making.

We also like to provide Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The most important part is that Mum’s and children have the opportunity to spend quality time together, making happy memories over the festive period as they move forward into a life free from abuse.

On most women’s Christmas list are the common things like perfume or pyjamas but for the women we support their list is often very different; they hope for safety and a new start. It’s something that many are looking for as we start a new decade, but it is particularly important for women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse. The Haven every year tries to make Christmas feel special and magical to every woman and child that asks us for help.

glass of milk near christmas present

This Christmas is even more poignant; as we move into a new decade, we start to think about what we want from the future. Women and children in The Haven want a future free from domestic abuse and the trauma they have experienced. So, this Christmas as you tuck into your dinner and pull crackers laughing at the terrible jokes with your family and friends – please take a moment to think about the women and children settling in for a Christmas in refuge.

The Haven takes over 1000 helpline calls every month. Just £2 cover the cost of each call from a woman and her children in dire need. This Christmas, can you spare £2 to help ensure support is available for those who’s festive period may not look as bright?

Donate here www.havenrefuge.org.uk/donate-to-the-haven

 

How charities can gather images ethically?

by Rachel Erskine

Amref Health Africa might be the biggest NGO you’ve never heard of. Headquartered in Nairobi, we’ve been around since 1957 and work in 35 African countries. When I joined the organisation’s UK arm in September 2017, I was struck by the breadth and variety of that work.

elephant.jpgIt’s like that school assembly staple, the parable of the blind-folded men and the elephant: if you asked my counterparts in Ethiopia or South Sudan what Amref does, their answers would bear little resemblance to each other’s, or my own. None of us would be wrong – but you’d need them all to see the truth.

The elephant in the Zoom

I soon came across another elephant; the one everyone avoided in in our bi-monthly video calls. While we had access to thousands of striking photos illustrating the impact of our work, we didn’t always have proof of informed consent from the people who featured. By missing out that stage of the image-making process, we had strayed from the principles that underpin our work. We had made ourselves vulnerable – and rendered much of our beautiful photography unusable.

Recognising the need for change, colleagues from across the organisation undertook a far-reaching review of consent-gathering. Eighteen months later, we’re at the stage of rolling out a new policy and toolkit. This is how we did it…

Assigning responsibility

globalWe started by creating a taskforce from across Canada, Kenya, the Netherlands, Tanzania, and the UK – all with the shared goal of establishing a global policy on image consent and a set of practical tools for implementation. At each stage we took our drafts back to a bigger working group representing every Amref office. Once we had achieved broad agreement as a group, we took it to senior management at global level.

It wasn’t easy – taskforce members were doing full-time jobs in parallel and many are one-person teams. Had we taken a more centralised approach, the work would have been finished much sooner but, as my Canadian colleague pointed out, it wouldn’t have made for such a rich and comprehensive policy.

Involving everyone

Informed consent protects the rights and dignity of those whose stories we have the privilege of sharing.  Although the ethical argument is by far the strongest one, it was crucial that everyone understood the potential repercussions (legal, financial, and reputational) when we don’t respect the process. Framed like this, it’s everyone’s business.team.jpg

We consulted the communities we work with to determine what they thought was reasonable and practical and sought advice from our Legal, HR, and Programmes colleagues, who often find themselves tasked with taking photos.

 It wasn’t always easy

This process forced us to have important, and sometimes uncomfortable, conversations. It has revealed other areas that require further attention and work. For example, the new policy needs to be backed up by, and reflected in, our safeguarding and child protection policies; our staff handbook and code of conduct; the contracts we ask freelance photographers to sign; our project feedback mechanisms; the way we’ve configured our online photo library. (All of this work is now underway, with clear deadlines for completion.)

Embracing complexity

Amref has offices in a dozen African countries, and another dozen in Europe and North America. Attitudes and expectations around the act of taking a photo vary from one context to another. Trying to reconcile these was complicated. There were times when conversations threw up more questions than they answered.

Camera.png

The charity sector is still smarting from recent, very public examples of what not to do. Our use of imagery ties into broader conversations about race, representation, and power dynamics; it was important not to shy away from this in our calls with colleagues from all over the world.

In the UK, the public demands increasingly better from NGOs and they’re willing to hold us to account when we fall short.

Letting it take up time and space

This work is important. Developing and implementing a thoughtful, rigorous consent process says a lot about who we want to be as an organisation.

midwifery-students-gambela-crop_999x784-743330914-1568711270433.jpgLike many things, it all comes back to relationships: between NGO and community members, between photographer and subject. At Amref, we’re lucky to have strong relationships with the communities we work with; many of them built and maintained over several decades. Whilst these relationships don’t allow us to ever assume consent, they do enable us to have frank and open conversations.

Thinking ahead

Our next step is to develop guidance on the ethical use of imagery. In reality, much of the groundwork for this has already been done. If you’ve already had those conversations by the time the picture is taken and the person is clear on what their image might be used for, where it might appear, how it might be framed and who might see it – you can be reasonably confident that your use of it will align with their wishes. This being so, we do try to ask people for feedback once they’re ready for publication. They can revoke consent at any time.

Zooming out

When it comes to representation – stories, films, photography – it’s not about us. It’s about the people who allow us to share their stories; the people our organisations exist for. Their needs should always come before our own. It’s part of a broader commitment to putting respect for the rights, dignity and preferences of the people we work with above everything else: a principle that guides our project work and should underpin our communications, too.

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Resources we’ve found useful

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Rachel Erskine is Communications Manager at Amref Health Africa UK. The views expressed here are her own and not those of her employer.

www.amrefuk.org / @amref_uk / @erskinerachel

 

Inclusion in the charity sector: why do we need it?

by Siobhan Corria

I didn’t think twice when I saw a shout out for contributors to ‘Great Charity Speakers’. When founder, Mandy Johnson suggested I write about inclusion and the charity sector, I jumped at the chance. Firstly, a bit of background as to who I am and why I am involved in championing equality, diversity and inclusive (EDI) practice in the charity sector.

A BIT ABOUT ME

I have been the Head of Inclusion for Action for Children for five years. Before taking up this post, I was a local councillor in Cardiff. Prior to that I did a degree in Criminal Justice and Policing, worked as a Case Manager in Youth Justice and a Social Worker for looked after children before entering politics (during which time I was Scrutiny Chair for Children’s Services and education and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services). My interests lie in social justice, inequality and social inclusion.

I have seen women struggle, I have seen that struggle made worse by working within some of the oppressive structures that exist within society.

It was during my two and a half years in politics that I experienced what it was like not to fit a stereotype, to experience a subtle culture of sexism and to not fit in. When I was appointed as Head of Inclusion for Action for Children, I couldn’t quite believe it. I could combine championing diversity and (indirectly) improving outcomes for children, young people and families by supporting colleagues to fully be themselves.

There are not many posts like mine within the charity sector and I don’t think there are any UK wide inclusion posts that are based outside of London. I am based in Cardiff. Diversity tick box #1.

WHY DOES THE CHARITY SECTOR NEED INCLUSION EXPERTS?

We are the charity sector. Surely our values and principles are sound, and we can sleep tight at night. Well, the sector may think its values and principles are sound, but what about its behaviour?

The sector can sleep tight at night because it doesn’t reflect on its behaviour.

It doesn’t have time to reflect, because it doesn’t factor in reflection as a key activity in ensuring excellent services, successful campaigning and lobbying are inclusive and representative of our diverse communities.

THE SECTOR IS COMPLACENT

Managing a diverse, creative, imaginative and innovative team is more demanding because breaking up the status quo is much more difficult than maintaining it. Sometimes, when individuals in the charity sector get where they want and/or need to be, they deviate from disrupting how things stand. Jobs like mine are the conscience in a comfortable sector.

WHY IS EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ESSENTIAL WITHIN THE THIRD SECTOR?

Winning contracts, increasing supporters and recruiting and retaining the most talented staff are requirements across the sector, so why is inclusion so important?

An inclusive and diverse working environment is crucial within service delivery so that staff and volunteers feel inspired and supported to develop new ideas and concepts.

When working operationally, it can feel that the emphasis is on meeting key performance indicators, so imaginative, innovative and radical concepts from a diverse mix of employees must be encouraged.

FIVE REASONS WHY INCLUSION IS IMPORTANT

I believe there are five key points that needs to be considered when thinking about the importance of inclusion and improving outcomes for children and young people:

  1. The staff and volunteer complement need to reflect the backgrounds of the children, young people and parents who access the service. This will immediately assist in building trust between the service users and the practitioners.
  2. Practitioners who are supported to be themselves within the workplace will feel more motivated, supported and encouraged to develop creative interventions.
  3. Ensuring and championing the participation of children, young people and parents will create a relationship of confidence and help to ensure interventions meet the needs of individuals and groups within a service.
  4. Staff engagement within the sector must be meaningful and based on wanting to develop pioneering ways of working during the continued period of diminishing budgets. The practitioners on the ground not only know the work and how to make it effective and efficient, but they want to be involved in policy development and new ways of working.
  5. It’s not enough for practitioners who work in service delivery to say they understand equality, diversity and inclusion. Annual objective setting must include specific inclusion objectives, particularly with regards to raising awareness of equality issues within the organisation.

The structural inequality that exists throughout all organisations and society must be regularly highlighted and challenged by those who entered the sector with a passion for improving outcomes.

Siobhan Corria is Head of Inclusion at Action for Children. She is featured on the list of Great Charity Speakers. You can reach her directly via LinkedIn and Twitter.

List of charity speakers ‘who are not white and male’ published


First published: 10 Apr 2018

Mandy Johnson, the chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, has published a list of non-male charity sector conference speakers.

Johnson drew up her initial list last Friday, after posting on Twitter that it had “come to my attention that we need to provide conference organisers with a list of brilliant speakers from the charity sector who are not white and male”.

At the time of publishing the list features over 150 speakers divided between those “who do not identify themselves as white or male” and “white people who do not identify as male”.

The list is further sub-divided into area of expertise, including “academic experts”, “chief execs, exec directors and founders”, “fundraising experts” and “service delivery experts”.

In the preface to the list, Johnson wrote: “Too many times I am told that it is hard to find good speakers in the charity sector who aren’t male and/or white. I want to rid conference organisers of that excuse.”

Johnson has continued to ask for more recommendations from people from the sector on Twitter, tweeting a link to a form that people can complete.

The list is currently hosted on a free WordPress site, but Johnson has also launched a GoFundMe fundraising page to “upgrade” the site, which she said would allow her to “add a few features to the website and use it to continue to engage people with this conversation”.

The page has now raised £320 of its stated £400 goal. Johnson said that if more than £480 is raised, “any additional funds will be donated to the Small Charities Coalition”.

Speaking to Civil Society News, Johnson said: “The list is far from perfect at the moment. There are lots of great people missing from it and many more ways it could be developed to make it better but it is a start. I am also aware that there have been requests for changes to highlight people for different reasons, such as all of the brilliant disabled speakers who are often absent from charity conferences.

“I have been overwhelmed by the response that I have received to this list and apologise that I haven’t been able to respond to everyone who has contacted me so far. I really appreciate everyone’s support and would welcome offers from anyone who would like to volunteer to support the list’s development and maintenance.”

Source: civilsociety.co.uk

Why am I doing this?

A little while ago I made the difficult decision to step down from the Committee of Charity Women. Charity Women is a brilliant group of people who are trying to address the gender inequalities that exist in the charity sector. I absolutely believe in their mission but didn’t feel like I had enough time for my family, my job, my trustee roles whilst giving Charity Women the time and attention it deserves.

I learnt a lot by being part of the group. One thing that really stayed with me was the importance of asking who else is going to be on the panel ,or on the speaker list, when I am asked to speak at events. I have got into the habit of saying “as long as I’m not the only woman” and/or “I will speak if you can make sure that there are people who are not-white speaking at the event”.

I have nothing against white men, I have learnt a lot from my Dad, my husband, my male friends and peers. I am also a huge fan of Johnny Depp and Postman Pat. Yet I believe that I cannot become the best I can be unless I am exposed to the knowledge, skills and expertise of a diverse range of people with different views, experiences, cultures, perspectives and ways of working. I also know that if all we see are white men speaking at conferences, then it is harder for people who aren’t male and/or white to recognise that they can and should be thought-leaders too. That is why I ask the awkward questions when I am asked to speak at an event.

The response that I get is mixed. Most people see me as a pain for asking the question. I get excuses for why the conference organiser believes it’s not possible, sometimes I never hear anything back, more frequently I am asked for recommendations of great female, non-white experts in the field. Essentially, because the conference speakers do not have a pool of people who aren’t male and/or white to reach out to, I have made their life harder. As a result, my ridiculous request is delivered back to me as something I need to help with.

The good news is, I am happy to help. I want conference organisers to be aware that there is a huge pool of talented speakers across the charity sector who aren’t male and are not all white.

That is why I have created this website. I want to provide a place that conference organisers from the charity sector can discover the brilliant speakers who deserve to have their voices heard.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” – Ani DiFranco