A growing team, and a time for deep reflection
It’s been a while since you’ve heard from us – but this is Alyson and Naomi, writing from Edinburgh and Glasgow, respectively, in Scotland, where it is finally beginning to feel like Spring! We’ve let go of the blues and chill from the Northern hemisphere, noting the ease in the weather, the bright sky, and the grass coming out into the green.
It’s been a time of both deep reflection and great activity at Chayn, as we’ve looked back on our work in 2020, made plans for 2021 (and beyond), and kickstarted several exciting new projects. Join us for some of the highlights…
Updates from Chayn
Team: Chayn is growing! Since we last wrote, we’ve added two new staff members to the team. Meet Kim, our new Operations Manager, and Naomi (hi!), who has just joined us as Movement Builder. We’re so excited about the increased effectiveness and impact we can have with our growing team.
Strategy: We’ve kickstarted our first-ever strategy process: working with our volunteers and wider ecosystem to develop a strategy to grow and strengthen Chayn’s work and increase our impact. Like all Chayn’s work, we’ll be doing it collaboratively and openly, and there’ll be opportunities for any who would like to input. Find out more in this blog by Hera and see the timeline below.
Design: Our Hera wrote a blog about trauma-informed design to kick off a conversation about how we can create affirming, hopeful and non-extractive and re-victimising experiences. Read it!
Bloom: Bloom reached 600 people in 2020 through five courses, with 1500+ sign-ups in total. As a model, Bloom changes our material to user needs. We work, hear feedback, reflect, and adapt. After revising and updating course materials based on this reflection, we’ve officially launched Bloom for 2021! Our ‘Creating Boundaries’ course started on May 3, and our other Bloom courses are now open for bookings. Sign up and/or spread the word here.
Beatriz, Hera, Zoë, and Alyson have also been writing grants to sustain our work. In February, we submitted to the Feminist Review Fund, Comic Relief, and The National Lottery Community Fund – and are delighted to have secured funding from Comic Relief to launch a web platform for Bloom.
Our Bloom programme has also already received backing from Lankelly Chase, who’ve helped us question the dynamics of trauma and abuse. Much of the third sector has sought to find a resolution to harm by “healing” those who’ve survived - meaning some return to a life or to the person they were prior to their traumatic experience. However, to forgo or transform violence can never be a one-set model. Whether in the linear course from hurt to improvement, rehabilitation is too often treated as something quantifiable, with people as products made shiny and new. But a survivor’s journey post-trauma is never universal, and our treatment of trauma cannot be one-size-fits-all. Healing from abuse is not a business. It must be active, adaptable, interactive, communal, and questioning. This is why Bloom will always be both evidence-based and soulful as a programme and centre the nuance of our emotions and mixed realities. It is a blessing to have funders who sustain this ethos and are supporting us to explore this in further depth. Watch this space!
If you’re curious about Bloom’s process in greater detail – from our pilot, to delivery, to learnings, and next steps – we are also working on our Bloom Impact Report. It highlights our major findings, stumbles, and how we helped best. Beatriz has also embedded some beautiful graphics. It will be out soon - so watch this space!
We have also published two of our five Bloom courses – ‘Creating boundaries’ and ‘Trauma resilience’– on Soul Medicine (our micro-course platform), with ‘Managing Anxiety’ coming very soon. We want to make our teaching as accessible as possible, so you can read them instead of watching online, as preferred!
We’re also developing proposals to train other non-profits in setting up their own Bloom. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch.
Podcast: We’re doing a podcast investigating the experiences of minoritised women, including women of colour, migrant women, and LGBTQ+ women, who’ve survived sexual assault and chose to report it to the police or another institution. We’ve put together a team to produce the podcast and are now looking for people who’d like to tell their stories (can be anonymous). If you’d like to submit your story, fill out this form. We are gratefully funded for this project by the Necessity Fund.
Safer chatbots: We’ve been working on a project for a large humanitarian agency developing a library of diverse and common terms used by survivors using a chatbot for support. Most people do not type 'I am facing domestic abuse' on chatbots or Google. They are likely to type things like 'why does my husband hurt me?', 'how can I make my mother-in-law approve of me?', or 'excuses to stop bf forcing me to sleep with him'. For this project, we have researched and compiled common terms and phrases that survivors may use when seeking support through a chatbot with an intersectional lens - including different languages and cultural contexts. Unicef will use this research for their own chatbot, and we are also developing the insights gained through our research into a public report. Get in touch to receive a copy when it is released. Thanks to Ayesha, Beatriz, Carolina, Chloe, Dina, Hera, Kim, Lakshmi, Naomi, Nooreen, Sarah and Zoe for their work on this project.
Orbits: We’ve partnered with End Cyber Abuse on a new project called Orbits, producing a field guide on interventions for technology-facilitated gender-based violence. The guide will provide principles and recommendations for both policy makers and technology companies on ending TGBV and trauma-informed design, as well as good practice guidance for researchers working in this field.
So far, we’ve been working with our user researcher Bex to interview experts on TGBV from around the world - and have learnt an incredible amount already. Their insights will inform the principles outlined in the report, and be developed into case studies outlining both the key problems and what possible solutions look like. We’re now planning a series of workshops to get input from the wider ecosystem, including a session at RightsCon that happened this week and workshops for survivors, policy makers, researchers, and tech activists and companies to further develop and refine our recommendations. If you’d like to get involved, get in touch. We’re so excited to work with the fantastic ECA team, led by Nishma Jethwa and Akhila Kolisetty, and grateful to Robert Bosch Stiftung for the funding for this project.
YSM: We’re busy working on new content for YSM, including a piece on reproductive rights and abortion. As well as that, back in March, our International Women’s Day campaign on social media reflects on the theme of gender stereotypes - and how to call them out! Check it out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Chapters: Chayn Italia has launched a new training course, Radia, on tech-enabled abuse for frontline workers of women’s aid centres and refuges across Italy. 118 centres signed up for the first edition, here’s to more and more training cycles in the future! Early this year, a new chapter was created in Belgium. Chayn Belgiumheld their first workshop on 4 March, exploring the topic of “Digital Care” in order to prevent cyber violence. Chayn Belgium has already presented their mission and goals in front of French-speaking Parliament in Brussels.
Chayn in the media: Hera has been in the UK media a lot this year: including commenting on the UK’s new non-fatal strangulation laws on BBC Radio Manchester, talking to Sky News about the support available for domestic abuse survivors during lockdown, and speaking to BBC News about the changes necessary for women to be safe.
Flowerbed: When lockdowns returned in the UK, we were once again worried about those trapped indoors, as well as those who were isolated. It is difficult to be alone, to feel cut-off from communal support, other sights, and experiences.
In 2020, we launched our ‘Notes from Chayn’ pilot to offer support; this round, we wanted to keep in touch with more people, with mini weekly check-ins. We came up with ‘Flowerbed’: live video discussions anyone can show up and ask questions about the topic of the week. We’ve explored topics including patriarchy and pop culture, the single life, and more.
There have been challenges when configuring this outreach, however. At first, we were hosting these 30 minute talks on Zoom, but it felt especially formal for such a short call, and it was difficult to fit in everything we wanted to say. We even had a Zoom bomber (which we quickly dusted and dispersed!)
For now, we’re sticking to our shorter runs, but have expanded to broadcasting via Facebook live. So, please, join in, connect with us, and hear from our wider group of volunteers in a safe space! (We know how to handle intruders!)
We’re grateful to Nooreen, Snigdha, Connor, Beatriz, Hera, Dina, and Zoë for hosting. You can watch previous sessions back on our Facebook page.
What we are reading and watching (and doing!)
Zoë, Beatriz, Hera, and Alyson have been deepening our understanding of trauma-informed practices, design, and research to best serve and reach out. We’ve been learning from Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski, on content related to sex, the science of the body, relationships, and pleasure; The Body is not an Apology, by Sonja Renee Taylor, for radical self-acceptance; and Men Who Hate Women: From incels to pickup artists, the truth about extreme misogyny and how it affects us all, by Laura Bates. In fact, we have a whole reading list of content, available here for anyone interested in our research.
We are mindful about decolonising our reading list and accounting for the testimonies of non-Western authors, writers of colours, trans-women and non-binary experiences. If you have more suggestions for our list – please get in touch! We’d love to learn and expand as much as possible.
Call for help
We’re looking for supporters, current and potential partners to help us co-produce our organisational strategy.
Volunteers can get involved at any stage of the process all the way from dropping into a meeting to convening others for deeper conversations. Existing or potential partners and funders have the opportunity to choose one or multiple ways to engage with the strategy from group meetings, one to one interviews or by just reviewing our collaborative document. Everyone else who cares about Chayn will get an opportunity to comment on the draft policy in late October 2021. If you would like to be involved, sign up here.
We’ll see you all soon. With constant care,
Alyson, Naomi, and the team at Chayn