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Learning from Our Experience 3: Roles, Power and Privilege

Reflections on Facilitating the CLARiTY Sessions

In this blog, excerpted from the CLARiTY Project Report, Philipa Bragman, consultant facilitator shares her experience of working on the CLARiTY Project.

As the facilitator of the sessions and being in regular contact with many people with learning disabilities through the Covid 19 Support and Action Group, I saw my role embedded in supporting and facilitating a process that was accessible and inclusive for everyone.

I did this by ensuring we were creating together a space that was welcoming, warm, challenging of systemic power structures and safe enough for people to both listen and understand as well as share experience and ask questions.

The process of doing this started with encouraging people with learning disabilities to come and experience the sessions as a place that they would be respected and valued and that there was information relevant to them.

I was keen to build a good relationship with the legal professionals involved. In the beginning, during our planning meetings, I realised how I sometimes felt intimidated and nervous to ask if they were talking about something I was not familiar with. I didn’t want participants in the sessions to feel the same. The CLARiTY team made it easy for me to ask questions and I quickly realised that I needed to support them to make sure they were communicating using straightforward language so people in our sessions also felt comfortable asking if they didn’t understand.

Our planning sessions were really important and I feel that we built a relaxed, respectful, fun and informal team sharing our ways of working and embodying our joint values of diversity and inclusion.

Working closely together as the CLARiTY team really helped the sessions feel relaxed and welcoming.

As a facilitator using process work and Deep Democracy, I feel it is important to understand the roles, rank and privilege that are at play in the room. One way we can do this is to recognise our own power and bring more of ourselves into the space.  The legal professionals were brilliant at sharing and bringing into the sessions more of themselves. This immediately role modelled an openness and a vulnerability that challenged the privilege and power that legal and other professionals have over people who use services. By doing this they helped to co create a space in which I could facilitate, that felt diverse and inclusive, where everyone had a voice, and was empowered to use it to both ask questions, but also to support each other by sharing their own experiences and what they have learn through their own journeys.

Philipa Bragman, November 2021

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