Creating safe spaces

At LMM we are trying to encourage wellbeing in all we do. Right for the beginning of planning an event, activity, course, meeting or group I try to think about how someone who is struggling will feel in the session.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but does give some ideas of ways of making people feel that their whole self and their wellbeing are important within a space. We hope it is useful in creating safe spaces whatever your context.

  • Start the meeting with a time of quiet reflection.

Asking people to focus on their breathing for a minute or two, or asking people to close their eyes and focus how their body feels and the sounds they can hear around them. You can find an example of creating a mindfulness moment here, use this recording or try leading something youself:

  • Start with a wellbeing check-in.

If it is a smaller group or you have more time then going round and asking everyone to share how they are feeling today is a good way to encourage honest sharing.

This can build trust and make people feel it is ok if they aren’t feeling great. It can create more vulnerability and honesty, encouraging kinder interactions. Make sure to premise it by encouraging people to only share what they are comfortable sharing, it is a horrible feeling when you feel you have over-shared. I often find if I share first then I can set the tone in terms of the level of sharing.

  • Make clear it is ok for people to take a break from the meeting.

If means that is people are struggling or feeling uncomfortable they are more likely to feel comfortable to take a few minutes out of the space and come back refreshed. Also on this same note, if it is going on longer than an hour allowing people a comfort break is always a good idea.

  • Think about how you set the tone of the meeting

The person who speaks first or is facilitating a space does a lot to dictate the tone of the time you have as a group. If you are calm, considerate and kind from the beginning others are more likely (although not guaranteed) to follow suit. Perhaps taking a few minutes yourself before the meeting to breath and calm yourself. It can also be useful to plan your first couple of sentences of introduction.

  • Put pastoral support in place ahead of the event/meeting

This may only be appropriate in more formal groups and events but in certain situations it can be really useful for people to know how they can contact if they need someone to talk to. This is particularly important within spaces where personal topics are being covered or vulnerability is being encouraged. It is advisable that the pastoral person is someone who is DBS checked and a good listener who understands the basics of safeguarding. This mitigates any risk.

Have any questions about this, please contact us.

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