Safe Spaces

It’s crucial that we do not recreate oppressive structures in our groups that would continue to silence people who are already silenced in society.

What a safer space is for:

Oppression can happen at a political, social or personal level and typically occurs on the basis of ethnicity, class, gender, gender identity, gender representation, sexuality, age, income, ability, appearance, immigration status, activist experience, and other forms of difference and inequality. A safer spaces agreement aims to create a space free from the experiences of marginalisation and inequality that many people regularly face.

What a safer space means:

A safer space is a vision of a better society, of what it could be like to feel supported, to feel autonomous, to feel free, and most of all to feel safer. In a safer space we recognise and respect that we experience things in different ways and that we have different ideas and ideals on how to make changes in the world. If we want to create a community that is cohesive, supportive and which makes a real difference to how we live our lives, then we have to question our learned behaviours and challenge ourselves and others. We need to work towards acting in ways that are respectful, and build a community of trust and support.

Safer Spaces Agreement

This is a space in which we agree to observe and uphold the following ideas:

  • Everyone has an equal right to be heard and an equal responsibility to listen.
  • Those who are perhaps used to doing the talking, may feel it benefits them to do more listening, and vice versa. We should encourage everyone to participate equally and without worry of prejudice, persecution or dismissal.
  • However strongly you feel about a particular topic, do not allow a discussion to get abusive.
  • Any behaviour (including body language and verbal language) that demeans, marginalises, dominates, or perpetuates hierarchies, is not tolerated.
  • Identify your won privilege(s) and actively challenge them.
  • Be aware of the range of different identities (gender, race, class) that people may identify as, and avoid sweeping generalisations about people.
  • Be aware that anyone in the space could be a survivor of a particular form of oppression, for example, violence and abuse, so it is therefore important to be aware of language or behaviour that may be triggering. It is also important to recognise that everyone has different experiences so refrain from speaking for another person’s experience as doing so may misrepresent their position and denies them of the right to speak for themselves and to own their experiences.
  • Anyone who is responsible for any kind of violence, intimidation, or harassment will by their behaviour exclude themselves from the space (meeting/event etc.)
  • If someone is feeling uncomfortable, do not hesitate to say so.
  • By participating as Manchester Migrant Solidarity, you are doing so as an individual. We do not support just one political position, group or party, we each have our individual beliefs and practices and we all have the right to do so. The problem arises if this is not respected and interferes with the inclusive and plural nature of the group. Do not try to coerce others into adopting your particular ideology or join your group, it may be seen as harassment and consequently a breach of the safe space policy.
  • Try using “I” language rather than using sweeping generalisations:
    • If someone gets upset about something you have said, try to think about why that might be instead of getting defensive.
    • If you don’t understand something, ask respectfully, and then listen to the answer you are given. If you are asked to explain something, do your best to explain it. Some participants may not be familiar with your argument, or its basis.

It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge prejudice and oppression. This list is not exhaustive and it is up to all of us to help create a space where everyone feels safe and included.

This has been adapted from other safe space policies by other groups, many thanks to those who have written similar agreements previously!

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