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Access & inclusion

Policy Statement

Whatever your gender identity, you are welcome here.
Whatever your race, you are welcome here.
Whatever your religion, you are welcome here.
Whatever your sexuality, you are welcome here.
Whatever your neurology, you are welcome here.

When your mental health is low, you are welcome here.
Whatever pronouns you use, we will respect them here.
Whatever your ability or health, you are welcome here.

However your family is made-up, you are welcome here.
If you are a parent or carer, you are welcome here.

What Do We Strive To Do?

At The Compass Centre we commit to working with you to meet your needs and treat you with the utmost respect in all our interactions. You will never be expected to divulge information about yourself that you are not willing to share. Any information you do share will be kept in confidence unless we have explicit consent (The only exceptions are situations relating to child protection, and/or situations where someone’s life is in danger).

We can work with survivors in person, over the phone, online or via messages. Some people enjoy the anonymity of telephone or internet-based services, and we respect that. The Compass Centre, where we work, is in Lerwick, which we appreciate isn’t ideal for everyone; we’re happy to try to make arrangements to meet survivors in a safe space that’s more convenient for them, such as a health centre or school if appropriate.

We will take the time to talk to you as an individual, listen to what you need and want to achieve without prejudice. You matter. We will do our best to support and enable you to achieve your goals irrespective of your family make up, race, religion, sexuality, gender, neurology, mental health or ability, but will do everything we can to take any and all of these things into consideration while working with you.

Gender

We welcome survivors, regardless of gender. Most of our clients are women and we are very positive about womanhood. We believe, as intersectional feminists, that by challenging patriarchal norms and celebrating diverse experiences of womanhood, we raise women up, promote equality and justice, and seek to make our world a better place. We welcome you if you are non-binary, gender fluid, trans, woman, or man. We will never judge you based on your gender.

We believe that gender-based violence is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and as such an element of our work is focused on prevention and activism, challenging the broader peer, social, and cultural attitudes and influences which normalise, support, and excuse sexual violence.

We recognise that men are a minority group within the survivor support community. We value male survivors and strive to make them feel welcome and included. We appreciate that it can be difficult to break from societal norms and seek support as a man, and we are working to challenge the media portrayal of male survivors.

For reasons of safety for our staff, volunteers, and survivors, we choose not to work with clients who have previously perpetrated gender-based violence. We accept that perpetrators can also be victims and we will always provide information about where to find support from alternative services.

We aim to avoid the assumption that gender is a simple binary. We will respect your pronouns and please feel free to tell us what these are. We seek to reflect the language that you use about your body when we are talking to you about your journey and experiences. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the terminology we use, then we always welcome you suggesting an alternative.

We do much of our work over the phone or via messages and so lack access to many visual indicators of identity that we often use to give and receive signals of our identity. This means we are very aware of and open to correction where we make any inaccurate assumptions, and we welcome you challenging us when we fall short and make assumptions about your identity.

Sexuality

We welcome you regardless of your sexual orientation. Sexuality doesn’t always come up when we’re talking to survivors, however, it might crop up when people are giving us background information, for example, talking about a partner or perpetrator, or you might just want us to know and that’s fine.

We want you to feel comfortable discussing the realities of your life, but we will never push you to share more than you are comfortable with. We accept and welcome people of all sexual orientations. We will never judge you based on your sexual orientation.

Physical Ability, Neurodivergence & Mental Health

Physical Ability - Everyone has limitations, whether that is a condition that means that you use mobility aids to enable you to live your life, or whether you have a more or less limited range of movement in your joints, or you have limitations in your hearing or sight. All these things, and more, can affect how you might access our services, and can form a helpful part of the picture to put the right support in place for you.

We love our centre; it’s home for our team and a safe space for survivors, but it’s an old building, and whilst we’ve done our best to make it accessible for everyone, it isn’t a very friendly space for wheelchair and mobility scooter users. For this reason, we ask visitors to let us know about their access needs at the earliest opportunity, so that we can make suitable alternative arrangements if needs be.

Whilst some people make apologies about the level of complexity that their access needs or conditions might add to their situation, we never see complexity as an inconvenience. We welcome the opportunity to really get to grips with someone’s needs and goals, and work through a situation to come up with individualised options of solutions.

Neurodivergence - We recognise that neurodivergence may have an impact on your level of understanding, your communication or the ways you take on or process information and experiences. We will work with you to establish ways of communicating that are appropriate for you to enable you to get the support that you need. We understand that these things may impact on how you process your experience, and it can be really helpful for you to give us a good idea of where you feel adaptations would be useful for you.

Mental Health - Most people will struggle with their mental health at some point in their lives. We understand that this can make all aspects of life difficult at times, and if you are feeling anxious or panicked by the thought of seeking support, this can be a huge barrier.

We aim to make our service as accessible as possible; if leaving the house or seeing people face to face is difficult for you, you can access services either online or via telephone. We will work with you in a way that respects your mental health and enables you to get the support that you need.

Communication - Some survivors have different communication needs, which we’re happy to support. We are happy to take reasonable steps to have support materials translated into braille or British Sign Language (BSL) and similarly, if BSL interpreting is required, we will do our best to make arrangements to meet this need. We ask clients to let us know about their access needs at the earliest opportunity, so that we can make suitable alternative arrangements in advance.

We are passionate about making communication work, and we are willing to adapt how we work to make it work for you. The key thing is always to ensure that you get to the support that you feel supported and accepted along the way. So, if we are suggesting something that isn’t possible for you, or you’re struggling with our methods, let us know. Then we can rethink and try something new.

You can expect all language to be respectful. You can divulge as much or as little as you wish, however, where there are safety implications for withheld information, we cannot be held responsible if we are not informed about the nature or extent of your condition.

  • We will never judge you based on your mental health.
  • We will never judge you based on your neurology.
  • We will never judge you based on your physical ability.

Racial & Cultural Inclusivity

We welcome survivors of all racial and/or cultural backgrounds. We will never judge you based on your race and/or culture. We understand that race and culture can affect people’s experiences of criminal justice. We believe that to be feminist is also to be antiracist and opposed to all types of oppression, one of the root causes of violence.

Harmful cultural practices including abstinence-only education, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’-based violence, and female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM) do not apply to any one culture or religious community. However, contributing factors include a complex interaction of religion and culture, but also class, race and other dynamics. We welcome survivors of sexual violence linked to harmful cultural practices, however this is not our expert area and therefore, with your permission, we may seek confidential guidance from trusted, specialist organisations.

Communication - Some survivors don’t speak English or would prefer to talk to us in their native language, which we’re happy to support. We are happy to take reasonable steps to have support materials translated into other languages and similarly, if interpreting is required, we will do our best to make arrangements to meet this need. We ask clients to let us know about their language needs at the earliest opportunity, so that we can make suitable alternative arrangements in advance. Some survivors speak Shetland dialect and prefer not to have to knap (code-switch) when receiving support. We are happy to provide a space for this.

Intersectionality

We are a feminist organisation and our feminism is intersectional. We think that intersectionality is a philosophy for change, not a label. It is about recognising all identities and how they overlap, from gender and gender identity, race, sexuality, ability, class, education, geography, language, religion, nationality, body size and type, the list goes on and on.

It is a framework for understanding the complexities of human identities and experiences, and their accompanying privileges and disadvantages. In more simple terms, we as people are the sum of our collective identities, and social, cultural and political systems impact every part of our identities, creating different challenges for different groups of people.

We acknowledge that the journeys and experiences of survivors will differ based on their backgrounds and identities.

Unacceptable Behaviour

We respect and welcome each individual, and we expect you, whether a survivor, a supporter, or a casual happen-er upon our social media posts to do the same. We will not tolerate abuse because of who we are or what we stand for, and if inappropriate behaviours or language are used in our spaces, we will take steps to deal with it in an appropriate manner.

Likewise, if you feel uncomfortable with the sentiments people are expressing in our groups or on our social media platforms, please let us know. As a small and busy service, we may not always be as on top of things as we’d like to be and can miss things.

We will not tolerate hate speech or exclusionary comments and aim to challenge these. Where this does not result in engagement, willingness to understand the hurt that words or attitudes have caused, or reflection on attitude, then comments will be deleted, and persistent or extreme offenders will be banned from the spaces.

Who to Contact

We are a small team here at The Compass Centre. If you would like to make a complaint about our service, you can make it directly to us. Your complaint will be handled carefully, we will reflect upon your experience and attempt to ensure that it is not repeated in the experience of others. You can email us at contact@compasscentre.org or, if your concerns relate to a staff member, contact the Board at src.board@compasscentre.org.

It can be hard to complain to a small organisation, but our commitment to inclusivity also means taking other people’s thoughts and feelings seriously. All feedback, whether positive or negative gives us a chance to reflect and improve, and that is our constant aim: to strive for excellence in all aspects of the services we offer.

We are always seeking to better represent a diverse range of people in our online presence and social media output. If you would like to suggest any additions or amendments to this policy then please get in touch with us at contact@compasscentre.org.

Speak to us

We want to hear from you. Phone us on 01595 747174 or email us.

How we can help you

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