Feeling safe at Co-Counselling workshops is considered to be essential for people to get the most out of the workshop.
However, feeling safe is a subjective feeling. That raises the question who is responsible for feeling safe at CCI workshops. In this context workshop organisers asked themselves what their contribution to a sense of safety at a CCI workshop could be and what they could expect reasonably from the workshop's participants.
While preparing for McCoCo 1998 and the European CCI 1999 in Scotland we thought about how we, as workshop organisers, could help to create a safe workshop environment. We think that feeling safe at Co-Counselling workshops is an essential precondition for people to get most out of the workshop.
Based on our own experiences at Co-Counselling workshops as participants, organisers and Trust Persons, we decided to look for good practises and to apply them at the workshops we were organising. Our approach seemed to work out well, hence we have decided to adopt this approach at all McCoCo and CornuCopia workshops.Our approach seemed to work out well, hence in the CornuCopia co-operative we have decided to adopt this approach at all workshops we have been involved in organising such as International CCIs, McCoCo and CornuCopia workshops.
How can we support the creation of a safe environment at CCI workshops?
1. By providing clear information to the participants about the safety philosophy of the workshop.
In a Welcome pack we have a section 'Workshop safety', containing the following documents:
- a mindmap about "Safety and risk at CCI workshops" ,
It describes our thoughts about 'feeling safe' and clarifies what the workshop organisers are responsible for around safety and what the participants are responsible for.
- a mindmap with"Guidelines for protecting your personal boundaries"
- a mindmap with guidelines for"Assessing how safe or risky a workshop is for you"
This is designed to support workshop participants to assess whether the safety-risk balance of the workshop on offer is appropriate for them.
the "Aware Negotiation of Sexual Attraction" (ANSA contract) This article by John Heron supports workshop participants to have a closer look at the nature of their sexual attraction.
2. By encouraging workshop facilitators to be clear about the safety and risk factors of the workshop they are offering.
For this we developed a 'Workshop Announcement' form.
3. By organising a Safety Support Team
In some countries the members of this team are called 'Trust Persons' or 'Ghostbusters'. To make this Safety Support team successful we suggest that
- potential team members are asked to agree with the above outlined safety approach. This provides a good basis for co-operation and mutual understanding
- safety team members meet daily to check in with each other
- the existence of the Safety Support team and its members are well publicised.