Resources

  • Boxes Photograph
  • Gen Silent Trailer

Click here to download the notes from the Training on what you said about:

  • Barriers to Learning
  • Barriers to engaging people in conversations
  • Concerns
  • Hopes
  • Questions

Setting the context for learning is all important to settle people in. Before starting with the main content of the training, we suggest that you do some input on:

  • Ground rules – to heighten everybody’s learning experience
  • Equality, equity and justice (the boxes) – to level the playing field
  • Gen Silent (the trailer) – to show where this all started in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin
Ground rules

Why Ground Rules?
Comments over the years, from a whole range of training participants, include:

  • because we are asking people to share personal experiences and, to help this, we want to create as safe an environment as possible
  • to be clear about the need to be constructive
  • to establish an atmosphere of fairness, justice and equality
  • to encourage us to take responsibility for our actions (words and behaviour)
  • to agree how to manage group dynamics
  • to make sure everyone is included
  • to contribute to something – encourage shared, and owned responsibility
  • to work together as productively as possible
  • to establish some agreed working principles – that we are here to move forward together
  • to encourage and support active participation
  • to prevent some people dominating
  • to establish acceptable boundaries and rules of engagement
  • to help people understand more about where each other are coming from
  • to help de-personalise issues

We use these 8 ground rules. You may want to add others and/or negotiate them with the group you are working with:

  • Always assume positive intent
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Be considerate of others’ opinions and beliefs
  • Feel safe to ask questions
  • We are all learning, all of the time
  • Challenge our own assumptions and prejudices
  • Focus on implications for ‘practice’
  • Be in the space (leave your phone alone)

In our training session on 4th October 2022, we discussed ground rules and identified these:

  • Confidentiality – what is said in the room stays in the room but, can share learning and themes (no names)
  • Safe to admit don’t know/understand
  • Create a safe space where people can talk about experienced prejudices and those we may have ourselves
  • Non- judgmental
  • Think before we open our mouths
  • Listen – be reflective
  • Treat people with respect and kindness – link with asking curious/interested questions
  • Recognising this is an emotive subject

Here are a couple of ideas, in case you want to engage a group in developing some ground rules. How you do it may be guided by how many people you have in front of you!

Idea one: in pairs ask people to talk to each other about what could stop them from taking part fully and what could encourage them to take part fully; after 5mins, take one point from each pair on each question and write up on flipchart, grouping comments as you proceed; use this feedback to collaboratively generate ground rules

Idea two: give post-its to small groups and ask them to share ideas for ground rules and write one idea per post it; after 10mins, ask one group to read out one post it and stick it on the wall – then ask other groups if they have similar ideas and if so, come and stick it next to the one on wall; discuss what each idea means as this is happening; go round all the groups till none left; summarise and agree ground rules from this feedback.

Equity, Equality, Justice

As part of the context-setting and introduction to the training, it is helpful to give an overview of that tricky concept of ‘equality’.
At the very beginning (circa 2013), when talking to social care providers, the SAND Team would be met with resistance. Many staff felt that we were accusing them of discriminating when we asked them about LGBT+ people in their care. The most common phrase we heard was

“we treat everybody the same”

And another was

“They fought to be treated equally so why would they want to be treated differently now”

This is clearly not true – we don’t give everyone coffee – we ask them what drink they would prefer. Also, these same staff talk a lot about ‘personalised care’ which totally contradicts the fact that ‘we treat everyone the same’.
Whilst things have moved on and we now rarely hear this from the same people, it is still a common refrain from new contacts.

We use this picture to pictorially explain to people why it is a nonsense, to encourage them to really think about what they are saying and also to illustrate how creative thinking can lead to better outcomes. If we move focus away from the individual and towards the barriers that get in the way of full participation then we achieve justice and an equal experience.

You can create your own script or use the one in the green box below to accompany the picture (and if you type ‘equality, equity, justice’ into a search engine and look at images you will find a whole variety on this theme if you prefer a different image.

“The Boxes Script”

In the picture we can see people of varying heights. Clearly only one of them is going to get a positive experience of the ball game they have all come to watch. This is a common problem at the sports ground and the ground team have been setting their minds to a solution.

Someone comes up with the great idea of sourcing boxes for fans to stand on. In this way they are all raised so that the majority are now able to see – and enjoy – the game. However, this approach of ‘treating everyone the same’ whilst essentially ticking a box of ‘equality’ is not actually serving as a real solution for everyone. The shorter person on the right still cannot see and so their experience will be significantly poorer than the others.

So – what to do. Well, an imaginative member of the team has the idea of redistributing the resources. By moving the boxes around to suit the specific needs of the fans they achieve greater equity as they can now all see – and enjoy – the game. However, is it the same experience? What about when shorter person on the right wants to go and get a burger? They will need to ask for help to get down – and then back up again, whereas the others can more easily do exactly what they want when they want.

We need a more radical solution – and this is what SAND is in – the creative thinking that leads to a vastly improved experience for everyone. Here, rathe than focussing on the individuals and seeing them as individually problematic, there is a focus on the barrier – what is it? Is it necessary? Why is it there? Can the purpose of the barrier be achieved in a different way? In this instance there is nothing lost by removing it!

The outcome is justice for all the fans as they each truly have the same experience of the game. After the initial investment of time to remove the barrier, it is also cost effective as it is an enduring, maintenance free solution!

Some organisations, like AgeUK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin have chosen to put copies of this photograph on their office walls – it talks to people and serves as a reminder to keep an eye out for the barriers, to question and – wherever possible – remove them.

Gen Silent

We introduced you to Gen Silent in the introductory page of this pack and here it is again – because it is so important and such a useful tool to use in training. This time we have added some ‘script’ which you can use to introduce it to your colleagues. The hour-length film is available for SAND to screen as well.

In February 2012, the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival screened a film as part of LGBT History Month. It is an American documentary and this was to be its UK debut – quite a coup as it is now commonly used by organisations looking at issues impacting on LGBT+ people as they age. The hour-long film follows a series of LGBT+ people living in and around Boston, USA and through talking to them and health & social care professionals uncovers a propensity for once confident people to go back into the closet as they age – and it starts to explore the implications of this.
At that film screening in 2012, there was an audience of 100 people and a post-film Q & A with a panel which included representation from local and national AgeUK organisations, Shropshire Council Adult Services and Coverage Care (Residential Care provider).
The 4 minute trailer has been screened at every single SAND training course since then and continues to set the scene for why SAND started up in the first place.

Since that screening in 2012, SAND has been listening to LGBT+ people talk about their life experiences, hopes, fears and concerns about growing older, and growing old in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin.
People are worried about maintaining their whole identity, of being safe, of having others around them who truly care for their wellbeing.
SAND believes that those experiences, in reality, could be better and so has spent time talking to a range of organisations providing care, or housing, or information and advice about what they can do to address some of those fears and concerns – and the inevitable questions that arise.
Often, the experiences shared sound shocking and service providers are surprised at the level of discrimination that LGBT+ people have experienced in earlier life and can still face today – and how this can affect how we feel.
SAND uses this heartfelt realization to help organisations to do things better – and this training has been designed and is being disseminated as part of that.

YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN MODULE 00 GROUND RULES & CONTEXT