• Provisional Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Procedure

    Released by Deep Adaptation Core Team on September 4th 2020. www.deepadaptation.info 

    Reviewed on August 26th February 23rd 2021 by Core Team Coordinator

    This policy is provisional and open for feedback and discussion. Those provisions of the policy that can be implemented immediately are being implemented. However, parts of the policy need consent from groups of volunteers in order to be implemented. Where that process leads to non-implementation of some provisions and feedback on them, that will be listed at the end of this document. To view or join an ongoing consultation on this provisional policy and related procedures, please contact the forthcoming Safety and Wellbeing Expert Circle on the DAF Professions Network

    Summary

    • The topics discussed within the Deep Adaptation Forum can be emotionally challenging.  That is why safety and wellbeing of participants is really important, and was one of the reasons that the DAF was launched.  This provisional policy is being shared by the Core Team in order to clearly communicate with participants and volunteers all of the ways that we can keep safety and wellbeing as a key focus of how we interact with each other. 
    • The policy outlines ways for all of us – volunteers,other DAF participants, and Core team members – to properly support each other, avoid harm, and respond to any expression of immediate risks of harm.
    • We are especially concerned about the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. That is why, from now on people must be over 18 to join any DAF platforms or events. Children and young people are invited to engage with other campaign networks, such as Fridays for Future.
    • The policy provides advice about what to do if you suspect harmful or risky behaviour of other members, volunteers, or Core team members.  If you do report any of your concerns, you will have the right to remain anonymous, and your concerns will be taken seriously.
    • The guidelines in this policy do not apply to DAF Affiliated Groups. However, administrators of Affiliated Groups are strongly encouraged to become familiar with this policy, and to take actions to keep the safety and wellbeing of participants in their groups as a high priority, particularly in relation to children and young people.
    • The Core Team will review this policy, and are inviting input over coming months from experts and volunteers.  You can add your comments here.
    • Members of the Core Team consider safety and wellbeing to be crucial, and that is why we ask all DAF volunteers to agree to this provisional policy. We will assume that anyone continuing to volunteer with the DA Forum has read, understood, and agreed to this policy.
    • If you are a DAF volunteer, please read the sections “Safety and Wellbeing of Participants in DAF Networks” and “Children and Young People” carefully, so that you know what your responsibilities are in relation to helping to keep DAF groups as safe as possible for everyone.

    Context for this Policy and Procedure 

    Usually a Safety and Wellbeing policy describes the ways in which the organisation is meeting its statutory requirements to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and service users.  However, this approach is not entirely sufficient for the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF), for a number of reasons. 

    First, DAF is not a service provider, nor is DAF an organisation that is constituted in any jurisdiction, and is a programme of a UK Charity, The Schumacher Institute.

    Second, DAF seeks to support people to engage on emotionally difficult issues where there is neither a simple means of overcoming difficult emotions nor a clear public benefit from doing so. Considering the collapse of previous sources of security, identity and sustenance is inherently emotionally challenging, it is both important to support people on these matters while also recognising that such support needs to avoid unhelpful assumptions that any central authority can or should guarantee emotional safety on such issues. Instead, giving explicit attention to creating conditions that enable co-responsibility, where individuals are clear about their responsibilities to themselves and others, is important.. 

    Third, DAF is founded on the view and analysis that emotional wellbeing can be served through more honesty, vulnerability, connection and dialogue, rather than avoidance of issues, transference of personal responsibilities, or a disempowering deference to perceived authorities. That process is helped when people recognise and experience how our emotional reactions to situations and people are not usefully seen by us as the fault of others or for others to fix for us. Therefore, DAF seeks to make its platforms and events ‘safe enough’ for people to engage and develop their own ability for equanimity and processing of their difficult emotions. 

    Fourth, DAF is aware of the broader context of oppression that gives rise to our predicament, and includes that in our consideration of participant wellbeing. Therefore, the emotional wellbeing of participants will only be sustainably served if it responds to the broader society and world that participants exist within. Therefore, structures of organisation are important to enable participant self-organisation in ways that take into account justice, fairness, transparency and accountability, and that mitigate against exclusionary patterns of behaviour, alongside concerns and support for the emotional wellbeing of participants. We also encourage a “call-in” culture, to support each other in the process of dismantling habituated patterns of thought that are associated with ideologies underpinning patriarchy, colonialism, and destruction of the natural world.  In order to do this, more mature forms of exploring and transforming conflict need to be evolved, which will involve experimentation.  

    Purpose and Scope of this Policy and Procedure

    The purpose of this policy and procedure is to guide any staff, consultant and volunteers in DAF to support the sustainable emotional wellbeing of themselves and other DAF participants, and to make DAF’s current approach to this matter transparent and accessible to all participants.

    This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of the DAF, including Core Team members, the Holding Group, volunteers in any capacity, and anyone in an official (contracted) advisory role. Instances when someone does not comply with the principles and procedures in this policy will be investigated in a spirit of inquiry, with the intention of seeking opportunities for individual and collective learning; but the primary importance of safety and wellbeing means that it may result in dismissal/exclusion from the Forum.

    This policy and related procedures are provisional, as a circle of experts will be formed to regularly review and improve the policy and procedures, for official adoption by decision of the DAF Holding Group. 

    This policy reflects the commitment of DAF to doing what is within our power to ensure that DAF is as safe a place as possible for all people to engage and participate, while recognising that emotional safety cannot be guaranteed and that to suggest otherwise would be counter-productive to the need for co-responsibility to enable the sustainable emotional wellbeing of participants and wider society. Therefore, for people engaged in DAF, mainstream understandings of safety and wellbeing cannot be uncritically relied upon. Instead, people’s own deep adaptation to the climate predicament involves everyone better allowing their own difficult emotions, taking responsibility for one’s emotions rather than blaming others, and reaching out to people about such emotions in order to strengthen capacity for self- and co-regulation.

    As DAF’s core aim is to embody and enable loving responses to our predicament, this policy and procedure is not a substitute for ongoing attention to how DAF is pursuing that aim in all its activities. The principles of returning to compassion, curiosity and respect in all our activities remain of fundamental importance. 

    Safety and Wellbeing of Participants in DAF Networks

    Given that the core aim of DAF is to reduce suffering and build emotional resilience, so regular offerings of free online gatherings aimed at emotional resilience and self- and co-regulation will be offered (e.g. Deep Listening, Deep Relating, Death Cafes). 

    Any volunteer facilitators who offer sanctioned DA gatherings related to emotional resilience will be covered by adequate professional liability and professional indemnity insurances.  

    If a core team member or volunteer suspects, or are informed, that a participant of a DAF network is at immediate risk of harm, they should direct them towards ‘Emotional support and guidance’ article and “Coping Right Now’ guidance, and mention that within those documents there are links to find helplines, including for suicidal thoughts. They should inform the relevant core team member with responsibility for the particular group or platform. Apart from that they should keep the information confidential. They may consider following up with the person in distress within some days. The core team member will ask if the person reporting the situation might benefit from some support for themselves, and indicate places for accessing that (e.g. the guidance database). 

    Given the global nature of the DAF networks, and that most interactions are online, it is important that people are advised to recognise the limits of their ability to respond. The risk is that they experience extreme distress when someone else on the platform expresses suicidal ideation. Therefore, making it easy for participants to access advice on what to do to help someone that one only knows online, is important. 

    Children and Young People

    For the purposes of this document, children and young people are defined as being under 18 years old. Young people have been important in the recent rise of climate activism and their views and involvement will be important to the future of any climate initiative, including those undertaken by DAF. The DA community is interested in how best to engage with children on eco-anxiety and collapse readiness, whether through education or parenting, and will remain attentive to learning on this issue. However, involvement of young people in networks gives rise to specific needs and concerns related to safety and wellbeing. Whilst DAF will continue to engage with experts and initiatives that support children and young people, its core purpose and expertise is not in this area, and DAF does not currently seek to involve children and young people in its activities.

    People should be over 18 to join any of the DAF platforms and events. From the start date of this policy, during sign up to any platform, people will be asked to confirm they are over 18. Standard information across all DAF platforms will state that if people younger than 18 are on the platform, they are advised against any direct personal communication with other participants unless they show those communications to relatives or a relevant professional. In addition, such information should state any volunteer or core team member that corresponds with them privately must immediately share that correspondence with colleagues and make that known to them. 

    No individual volunteer or core team member should enter into direct private communication with a child or young person who is a participant on any of the platforms. The exception is if such communication is in response to a young person’s communication that gives rise to concern for their wellbeing. In such cases the volunteer or core team member must copy the correspondence to colleagues within a day and inform the young person at the very start of their correspondence that such information sharing will be done. If consent is not received from the young person then the volunteer or core team member must decline such correspondence. As this provision restricts the potential support that can be given, therefore DAF will seek to develop a circle of trained and qualified experts which can be referred to in such circumstances.  

    While the DAF does not currently seek to engage children and young people through its platforms, within the group of DA Facebook group moderators, there will always be at least one person with relevant professional background in working with children and young people, who the moderators will be advised to consult on any issues related to children and young people.

    Prior to DA Forum developing it’s own work on youth engagement and support, in all our platforms we will signpost the Fridays for Future campaign network and encourage young people to join that in their locality. 

    Reporting issues or concerns regarding the behaviour of volunteers or core team members

    It is important that people within the DAF have the confidence to come forward to speak or act if they are unhappy with anything. If a volunteer has a concern about dangerous or illegal activity within the Forum, they should first communicate that concern with the Safety and Wellbeing contact of the Core Team (listed below). If their concern is about that member of the Core team, they can contact any other member of the team, including the Core Team Coordinator .  If the response is not sufficient to reassure, then people can take the matter to the Holding Group’s Safety & Wellbeing Contact (information listed below). Any volunteer or member of staff who raises a concern will have the right to remain anonymous.  Any issues raised in this way will be fully investigated by at least two people, including a member of the core team and a member of the holding group (neither of which should be directly involved in the issue raised).

    Contact details for the Safety & Wellbeing Contacts on the Core Team and Holding Group are provided below, for people to raise a concern or make a complaint about the implementation of this policy. 

    Affiliated Groups

    DAF does not have any responsibility for groups that people start and choose to affiliate with DAF. However, DAF gives advice to them. We advise affiliated DAF groups to have a clear policy on emotional health and wellbeing, and to pay attention to child safety and wellbeing if they decide to allow children on their platforms. This policy is shared with affiliated groups with a recommendation they consider their national context (eg. cultural and legal) and the nature of their group, when determining their own policy and processes.

    Proposed Initiatives To Support this Policy and Procedures

    A circle on safety and wellbeing will be established to explore issues and review this policy, with the mandate to include awareness of the limitations of mainstream bureaucratic approaches to this topic and the benefit of  integrating concerns for wellbeing with the broader context of the impacts of participants’ lifestyles on non-participants worldwide (i.e. allowing discussions that give rise to difficult emotions will remain important for DAF to enable meaningful learning and change).  

    A small group of volunteers who are qualified and experienced in working with children and young people will be convened to act as an advisory and support group if needed. Both to provide advice on the network generally and to respond if issues arise. This will include looking at how DA and/or DAF can be brought to young people and developed by young people.

    Important Contacts

    Safety & wellbeing contact in Core Team: Dorian Cave, dorian@deepadaptation.infoKatie Carr, katie@lifeworth.com 

    Safety & wellbeing contact in Holding Group: Ian Roderick, ian@dovetail.co.uk 

    Core Team Coordinator: Kat Soares, kat@deepadaptation.info

    (Only for contacting regarding possible breaches of policy, as described above). 

    Key Dates

    Date released: September 4th 2020

    Review date: August 26th February 23rd 2021 (immediate feedback is invited from the Holding Group and may produce revisions at any time, at which point this policy must be officially confirmed by the Holding Group).  

    Ongoing Updates on Implementation

    This policy will be made public and linked from the homepage of the DAF. Updates and feedback on this policy can be shared and read within the Professions Network here.

    Below will be listed any policy divergences or nuances that arise from consultation and processes of implementation with the various volunteer groups. 

    Reporting

    Reporting of incidents related to this policy should be done using this form.

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