Chayn vs. 2020: dispatches from an optimistic team
Supporting 600 people through Bloom and launching our first dedicated project for survivors of sexual assault
We’re Connor and Zoë from the Chayn volunteer network.
The year might be almost over, but we here at Chayn are busier than ever, including getting ready for the Your Story Matters launch! Our team has been working very hard, and today we bring you some incredibly exciting updates and events. So let’s launch straight into what we’ve been up to - and how you can get involved.
Updates from Chayn
YSM: Your Story Matters (YSM) is launching on November 19th (come to our event!). Our team at Chayn has worked for over a year to build a web app designed by and for survivors of abuse and assault. YSM is for all survivors to use after experiencing abuse to provide them with the mental, emotional, and legal information they need to navigate trauma. With themes such as “Accessing justice through the law,” “Moving through trauma,” and “Body, sex, and relationships,” YSM aids survivors in many areas. YSM can be accessed anonymously at ysmysm.co for free, where users are welcome to use it with or without creating an account.
Over the last year of researching, writing, and building YSM, we have learned so much about creating a global online tool that is inclusive to all survivors no matter how they identify. We began by conducting research to see what resources were out there for survivors and what resources survivors desired that they didn’t have. This led us to understand that we could build an app that contains the breadth of information that survivors needed to help them across the many avenues of trauma recovery all in one place. Our global team of designers, researchers, writers, and developers worked together to bring you this resource in YSM.
We will be hosting a launch event on November 19th at 3pm GMT and we invite you all to join! In addition to hearing about the app and its features, we will also welcome our keynote speaker Sohaila Abdulali, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape. Register for free here. We can’t wait to share this project with you!
Bloom: Bloom 2020 is a wrap! Alyson, Beatriz, Hera, Tiffany, myself (Zoë), and our trauma therapist Paula, worked so very hard to facilitate our courses on ‘Coping with domestic abuse’, ‘Recovery from Sexual Violence, ‘Trauma Resilience’, ‘Creating boundaries’, and ‘Managing anxiety’. Across our 5 courses, we delivered 62 video sessions - including 3 live sessions - to almost 600 participants over a period of 11 weeks, sent 176 daily messages, and engaged with more than 100 of our participants over direct chat. Whew, that was a lot of numbers - and a lot of engagement! With all 5 courses finished, we’re spending the rest of the year reflecting on this work.
And we’re not just reflecting for ourselves; on 1st and 2nd December, the team will be running training workshops on how the Bloom programme ran, for any person or organisation interested in delivering a similar remote trauma support programme. So far, 26 people across at least 5 organisations have registered for our ‘pocket’ training. There’s still time to sign up, so if you’re interested, do email us.
We’re also getting ready for Bloom 2021 - getting our 5 courses edited, perfected, and funded to start again in February of next year. So as we reflect on how to make this next round of Bloom even more engaging and educational, we’ll leave you with this reflection from one of our lovely participants. We are so grateful and humbled to do this work, with so many amazing survivors.
Our Hera was also chosen by Slate Studios and Mozilla Firefox as one of the three web creators and activists who are changing the web for the better. This is all part of the #UnfcktheInternet campaign."Women, nonbinary people, and people of color are still largely underrepresented on the web. We live in an increasingly digital world with more women turning to their browsers for answers but not finding them." is changing that.
Our Hera was also recognised in Queens Birthday Honours list with a BEM medal, which she accepted with some reservation. You can read about it here. We want to thank everyone in our network and community that has championed her and our work. The posts of congratulations warmed our hearts!
Annnnnnd….. we hired our Operations Manager. Please meet Katie Fitzjohn. She’ll be writing a blog about herself in December. She’s working one day a week until the end of the year but will join us for 3 days a week from January. We’re so excited to have her experience, care and skills as part of our team!
In collaboration with Chayn, the Digital Rights Foundation has just released their report on the ‘availability and responsiveness of gender-based violence helplines in Pakistan’. They find an urgent need for increased funding to organisations that offer helplines for survivors, including to facilitate increased support for staff: both in order to provide adequate, sensitive training, as well as to support the mental wellbeing of those who work directly with survivors. They also highlight the need for better communication and coordination between organisations across the public, private, and third sectors, and the importance of keeping the directories that house the contact information for these organisations updated.
We’ve also collaborated with UCL’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) to produce a research report on stalkerware, and how to construct policies and prevention programmes that protect people from the increasing risk of this tech-enabled abuse. Register to the event on 25 November to hear the findings of this important research.
A massive thank you to Goldman Sachs for their support; Chayn received third place at their annual GS Analyst Impact fund competition, with an additional £200,000 grouped grant coming from Goldman Sachs Gives. We’re thrilled about the impact this funding will have on our ability to reach and help more survivors, and it was an honour to be represented in the competition alongside other amazing organisations fighting for a better, fairer future. A huge shout-out goes to the analyst team who represented us at the competition- Julia Klesyk, Pawel Kaminski, Chih Yang Goh, Matthew Neo, and Grace Trivedi - we couldn’t have done it without you!
Want some Chayn merch? Thanks to Innovater Her that support young girls in the North West of England explore tech - are supporting us!
Call for help
To help survivors access resources local to them, we have created a directory in YSM of local organizations or programs that can aid survivors in a variety of needs, including medical help, legal assistance, and housing. If you’re a service that would like to be included in our directory, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YSM is launching in the UK and Pakistan, but we are looking to continue expanding to other countries and territories! If you’re interested in helping YSM grow by becoming a partner or a funder, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
The Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network is hosting a grant competition with a call for research which focuses on understanding violence, abuse, and mental health. We’re excited with the psychological focus of research, especially with our entry into the mental health sector under the Bloom programme. We would love to hear from anyone interested in collaborating with Chayn to apply for this research grant; the application deadline is 11 December!
With two big projects launching in the second half of this year - Bloom and Your Story Matters - our team is grateful, hopeful, and...tired. So much work has gone into these projects - special shout-outs, in particular, go to Nooreen, Lakshmi, Rebecca, Carolina, Valentina, Alyson, Tiffany, Chloe and Beatriz for their dedicated work across these past few months. Fortunately, we have been having both team and individual sessions with our Bloom therapist, Paula, who has been a tremendous source of support to our team in this busy time. As they always say, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so keeping our volunteers healthy and support is our first priority.
Keeping people engaged online! With everyone spending so much time on the Internet under lockdown, the ‘Zoom fatigue’ is getting real. As an organisation with support services primarily online, we’re always looking for ways to keep people engaged and excited about our web services. Any advice is always welcome!
What are we reading and watching?
Across our Bloom participants and our very own volunteers alike, we’ve noticed a need for uplifting media in this difficult and often isolating period of lockdown. So, we’ve compiled a list of what us Chayn-ers are watching to stay entertained.
With all our upcoming events and training, we hope to see you very soon.
Until then, best wishes from all of us here at Chayn,
Connor, Zoë, and the Chayn team