Involving Male Survivors
For Breaking the Silence the involvement of male survivors from racialised communities in developing, updating and improving the programme, has been fundamental to our success.
Whilst Meridian was established to further the needs of women from our communities, racialised male survivors really do have a voice in the strategic development and operational delivery of services and interventions by Breaking the Silence. Male survivor voices can be heard in our campaigning, education and lobbying; even where cultural custom and religious tradition inhibit their visibility on our website and printed literature.
From our inception it has been essential that the true voice of the community be central to our design. With so few racialised male survivors back in 2012, with the threats of actual harm to survivors and our staff, the design of the programme had a colonial quality. Well wishing friends from without offered their expertise and helped us design the first programme. But service users soon made clear that, whilst this design contained the seeds of healing, it was watered from the wrong spring, and thus could never bloom. Through the bravery of a few, collaboratively we redesigned, reformulated – and most importantly, refinanced through more ethical sources that would not subject users to the indignity of the security state.
Because of our male survivors, we have introduced a range of services, projects and programmes to better serve their needs. As one male survivor said, ‘sexual abuse is not all of our story’. These survivors have gone onto speak to Ministers, civil servants, researchers and press. They are the reason we exist and continue to grow.
There are a number of ways in which male survivors can be involved:
Those racialised male survivors that use or have used our services are one of the key stakeholders we count on.
How do we know what we’re doing is right? What about when we get it wrong? How do we keep meeting the needs of our beneficiaries?
Well, we do it through our Ummid Advisory Group (UAG), which is a common way that many health organisations or change makers ensure that those that are affected by it’s output are front of centre of decisions.
The UAG members are drawn from past and present service users, representing different ethnic groups, ages, cultures, faiths and social classes, and are drawn from across the UK. Some have been with our service for several years (mainly in a volunteer capacity), others for less than 6 months. Together they allow the Head of Service, Service Mnaager and the Board of Trustees to understand how effective we are in meeting the needs of those we serve.
UAG members serve a term of one year. The Chair will serve for two – currently this position is held by Syed Amar. We do not elect members for now, your participation is voluntary, but does require an application and interview process.
The UAG meets bi-monthly on-line (to enable participation from members across the UK) to discuss the Breaking the Silence project, review user feedback, the physical and virtual environments it exists in, and the current opinions of members on the needs of racialised male survivors .The Head of Service and the service manager will join the meeting to provide information to the UAG on the numbers of survivors using the services and any key developments or events/campaigns from the organisation.
The purpose of the UAG meetings is to share knowledge and create a feedback loop between the two parties to create one bigger plan.
Tasks will include reviewing and updating our strategic plan, assessing the suitability of funding streams, evaluating new programme materials for appropriateness, assessing user feedback, project outcomes against strategic aims, risk assessing any threats to our domain, interviewing new potential employees.
An engagement event is held every 6 months, hosted by the UAG members, open to any individual accessing the services as a way to ensure that we share all our knowledge widely.
If you are a male survivor, from a racialised community, over the age of 18 who has been through our programme, and are interested in becoming part of this exciting feedback loop, then email email@example.com
Application Form – click here (Word Document)
Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards. It: Reduces stress: Experts report that when you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns. Makes you healthier: Moods and emotions, like optimism, joy, and control over one’s fate, strengthen the immune system. These transferable skills are invaluable in other areas of your life e.g. employment.
For others, it can be a way of giving back to communities or being part of a cause that is important to them. Stage three of our threapy model encourages social action. We welcome any offer of help and support and we will try our best to match your skills and experiences to a volunteering role. We may not have a role suitable or even available at that time and so we will always keep you on file and let you know as soon as a position becomes available.
The type of volunteer roles available are:
- Peer-Group Volunteer
- Community Support Volunteer
- UAG Member
- Break The Silence Events Volunteer
For more information on Volunteering, contact our Volunteer & Community Development Worker, Isma (01274 490 353).