It’s important to us that all Voice Collective spaces are ones where people feel respected, valued, safe and able to take part in a way that works for them. Online spaces are often a bit more tricky to facilitate than the groups we run in person … it’s so easy to get the wrong end of the stick or forget that there’s another person on the other side of the screen.
So, before taking part in any of our online peer support group we ask that you read this information and do your best to help us keep this space warm and welcoming for all who want to use it.
What is Online Peer Support?
This is a space for young people who hear voices, see visions or have other similar experiences to connect with each other – with the support facilitators. They give you the chance to share a bit about your experiences, how they affect you and what is going on in your life at the moment (the good and the not-so-good). They are a space you can think about ways of dealing with things you find difficult, as well as checking in and sharing some of the things that are going well.
To help ensure that this group is a warm and supportive place to be, we ask that you do your best to keep to the following guidelines. Facilitators – Voice Collective staff and/or trained volunteers (Forum Assistants) will check in on the online support forum each day, helping to facilitate and support discussions.
Be kind: It’s not always easy to see what people mean when we’re not in the same room. Words can sound harsher in the online world, and sometimes it’s hard to find a way of typing what we actually feel. If someone says something that you find confusing or irritating, please try and give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s OK to ask someone what they mean to give them the chance to explain a little more. Please do not say anything that is personally attacking, nasty or hurtful to another group member.
Be respectful: Everyone has different experiences, different beliefs and a different way of communicating. Our online spaces will work the best if we try to appreciate everyone’s differences, listen to each other and treat everyone with respect.
Be generous: Peer support only works if we can find a way of being interested in, and responding to, the things other people are sharing. Everyone will have their own reasons for logging in, but it would be great if you could also respond to other people’s messages and share some of your perspectives and ideas on what they’re saying too. The facilitators are not the experts, each of us has something to offer in a peer support group.
Take a break if you feel angry: If someone says something that you find annoying or upsetting, it’s OK to say so. But, no matter how upset or angry you feel, please do not say anything nasty back to the person who has offended you. This is the way that arguments and flame wars happen online, and they can really make the group feel unsafe for the other members who are taking part. The facilitators will do their best to help people work out any differences and set clear limits. But, if you don’t feel able to type without ‘hitting back’ we ask that you either take a short break from the group (walk around, rant, get some air or message the Forum Admin) or just avoid their posts.
Remember it’s optional: You get to choose what you say, how much you say and how much you keep private.
It’s not a crisis support service: Whilst many of us go through times that are overwhelming, this online peer support forum is not a replacement for speaking with someone in depth about the things you’re struggling with. If you’re feeling suicidal or like self-harming, for example, it’s OK to say that on the forum. But, remember that everything we share in the forum will also impact on other members.
This is not the space to share detailed descriptions of self-harm, trauma, any plans or ways of hurting yourself or things that you think may really disturb other members. If you need to speak about these things, the facilitator will direct you to the crisis support services in our ‘Getting Help Quickly‘ section.
Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a topic will be disturbing to other members … so if the facilitator does think that it’s too graphic they’ll step in and let you know. If necessary, they might delete messages or ask you to speak a little more generally. They may also send you details of places you can talk in more detail if you need them.
Voice Collective also has an email service where you can speak more freely, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re worried about something someone has said – it’s OK to message the Forum Admin. You can also email us at email@example.com . Obviously, we can’t tell you what is going on for another member, but we can reassure you that we’re getting in touch with them and that your worry has been noted.
Privacy and Confidentiality: Please respect the privacy of other forum members. That means that it’s really important not to write down, screenshot or share anything that people write on the screen online. It’s completely OK to talk with your supporters about how you find taking part in the forum, what you talked about and non-personal stuff that you learned. If something has worried you – it’s OK to say it, but try to keep it general and focus on the support you need to get through (not talking lots about another person). In short – try not to gossip about what you read here.
Equally, at Voice Collective we will keep everything you say private too.The only time we would ever break confidentiality is if we were worried about someone’s immediate safety. But, as always, we would speak to someone first and try and figure out what we can do together.
Think about internet safety: Please don’t share personal emails, addresses or phone numbers in the forum. Be careful about how much personal information you share and remember to use a pseudonym or nickname rather than your full name. If you register using your full name a forum assistant or admin will contact you and ask you to change it.
If you feel bullied, or if anyone says anything to you in any of our forums that makes you feel uncomfortable – please tell us about it. You can message us from the forum, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about staying safe online, see: www.thinkuknow.co.uk
If Someone Breaks the Community Guidelines
No-one is perfect. At some point, each of us could say something or do something, that accidentally offends or hurts another person. At Voice Collective, we facilitate in a way that assumes that each of us is trying to take part the best we can. If someone says or does something that breaks one of our guidelines, we’ll let them know (by personal message or on the forum – depending which seems most useful).
If someone breaks lots of guidelines or says something that seems to be very nasty or attacking of another member – then we will either ask them to leave or, if necessary, remove them from the forum. If we ask someone to leave we will try to speak with them afterwards about what happened and whether they would like to take part in the future.
Sometimes we may make mistakes, as facilitators, too. If you think that anything we say is disrespectful or unhelpful – please tell us so that we can apologise and change what we’re doing.
If you want to speak to someone at Mind in Camden about any worries you have about a forum assistant or Voice Collective team member, you can contact Akiko at email@example.com.