In 2016 Wharf Chambers was approached by a POC member that disclosed they had been in an abusive relationship with one of our staff members. At the time we had no policies in place or training to know how to deal with this situation. Though the staff member was eventually fired, we failed to act promptly and effectively and as a result caused harm to that person and to our wider community and members who trusted us as a space.

Members and users of the space have also flagged up other incidents relating to racism and our lack of focus on anti-racism work.  As an organisation we are incredibly grateful for the patience and the feedback we have received and for the opportunity to improve as individuals and as a space. We have undergone staff training and sought external help to develop written policies that will help us proactively deal with any future situations. This work will always be ongoing for us and we are committed to listening and learning and doing as much as we can to make Wharf Chambers a safe and welcoming place to be for POC.

We hope that the documents that you can find on our website such as our ongoing accountability work document and our policies are open and transparent. We also hope these documents might help other spaces now, and in the future. If you would like to talk to us further about this, please get in touch via info@wharfchambers.org.


APRIL 2021

*This is a Live Document which continues to be updated*

WHARF CHAMBERS ACCOUNTABILITY / ANTI-RACISM WORK

In light of our our previous failings, we continue to be committed to practicing anti-racist behaviour both as an event space as well as a cooperative work force. We aim to be both accountable and proactive in our approach. The aim of this document is to update members on what we have been doing, whilst also highlighting the work that still needs to be done.

We have gathered a list of action points and suggestions from the sources below. This is not a definitive list, rather things that we have identified to be within our capacity at this moment. We thank everyone for their patience, input and support, especially POC, as we recognise the inherent difficulty in doing anti-racism work with white people.

Our action points come from the following places:

  • Our previous anti-racism action point table
  • Our email exchanges with Wharf Members Against Racism
  • Our training session with Racial Justice Network
  • Our consultation with an outside facilitator
  • Feedback gathered from our members surveys
  • Ideas from our own internal development meetings

BETTER COMMUNICATION WITH AND BETTER LISTENING TO OUR MEMBERS:

    • We are committed to keeping open all avenues for communicating safer spaces issues. We continue to regularly check our saferspaces email address and reply in a timely fashion. We will ensure that this is widely publicised through social media as well as through posters in the bar.

 

    • We have reinstated the information board in the bar and we are making better use of it. It explains the structure of the workforce of Wharf Chambers and provides a space for any of our own in-house updates. We hope this will make our structure more transparent as well as make it clearer how to get in touch with us for issues beyond safer spaces.
      (Completed October 2019 and will be updated as regularly as necessary)

 

    • We have created a monthly email newsletter, updating members and reaching those who do not use social media. This consists of our own in-house updates, monthly event listings, events happening in and around Leeds, as well as any other external news.
      (First completed October 2019, during the pandemic/closure we haven’t been creating these but will resume when we are open and functioning as “normal” again)

 

    • We are generally putting more time into improving our social media presence. This means having dedicated members of staff replying to queries and updating members, as well as making more use of it to publicise the events which are taking place at Wharf.
      (Ongoing)

 

    • We are publishing our accounts on the website to be more transparent about money.
      (Completed, will update yearly)

 

  • The members survey (which happens twice a year) will continue to have questions regarding racism and accessibility. We hope this will keep us up to date with how we are meeting people’s needs and what needs to be changed if not. We have also published a digest of the results from the last members’ survey on social media in order to be transparent with the feedback we received as well as to demonstrate the action points we have come up with as a result. We will do this again after the next members’ survey in February. We are also going to include a question which gives participants the opportunity to disclose their identity in order to discuss any further issues they may have.
    (The last survey should have happened just as the first lockdown happened so we didn’t do one, but once we are open and functioning again we will endeavour to do one 6 months in and will review/update the questions so that we can also gather some feedback on things that have changed via the pandemic)

SELF EDUCATING, GROUP EDUCATION AND COLLECTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY:

  • We are going to make our safer spaces agreement more visible and easier to digest in the bar room. This means having more posters and signage in the bar addressing different aspects that the agreement touches upon (i.e. what are micro-aggressions/ what is the pyramid of white supremacy/ what does appropriation look like).
    (We want to pay artists and designers for these infographics. If you have any suggestions please contact us. Deadline:before the end of the year)
  • We will continue to keep zines about cultural appropriation and racism in the bar.
    (Ongoing)
  • Our staff review system now asks each staff member to reflect and share what anti-racism learning/activism they have been engaging with. This goes alongside a question asking how each staff member is continuing to educate themselves. The staff reviews happen twice a year.
    (Next staff review in October 2021)
  • We are keeping an in-house document of resources (reading material/ films/ podcasts) to share with one another.
    (Ongoing)
  • Whilst doing any and all of these things we are going to be mindful not to place emotional burdens on POC in the organisation when challenging and discussing issues that affect them directly or indirectly.
  • From recent experience we have also learnt that a third party/ facilitator is invaluable at difficult meetings. Moving forward, we will make better and earlier use of this.
  • Anti-Racism Lending Library: During Lockdown we crowdfunded £500 and bought over 60 books recommended as reading material for people to learn more about racism and anti racism. This Library will live in the Bar room and is free to use for anyone and will hopefully grow over time and become a useful resource for our members and others. All members of staff are anticipated to make use of the library

SHARING OUR RESOURCES AND HELPING THE SPACE BECOME MORE WELCOMING AND ACCESSIBLE TO POC:

  • We have been and continue to offer reduced/waived room hire fees to events led by POC.
    (Ongoing)
    • We will continue to challenge events organisers that are appropriative or have all-white lineups. The terms and conditions sent to promoters continues to include a section asking them to reflect on the diversity and representation of their event.
      (Ongoing)

 

  • We are keeping better records of the events held at Wharf. In our weekly co-op meetings, we are looking back on what has happened that week and if we notice any events which have been led by POC, we encourage them to come back.
    (Ongoing)
  • During The Pandemic we received Arts Council Recovery Funding, allowing us to pay people to host events at Wharf Chambers. We also opened a funded call out for events from promoters we had specifically not worked with before. In both cases we prioritised submissions from POC and underserved groups

FUTURE AND LONG-TERM GOALS

    • Hiring POC. Next time we are recruiting we are going to state that we particularly welcome applicants of colour.

 

  • External equality monitoring and reviewing the experience of our hiring process. We did equality monitoring last recruitment and will do it again, in the future when we find a suitable company to outsource this to. But we need to ask for further feedback on how accessible the hiring process was in general.
  • Applying for more funding was the only time we have ever received any money from a funding body. It was an incredible opportunity which allowed us to host and encourage a wider range of events. Going Forward, we want to continue being able to offer this extra support and remuneration, particularly to POC and other underserved communities.
  • Continuing to Gather and Implement Ideas from our members feedback and our own internal development meetings

Here are links to our previous Anti Racism Action plans should you want to view how this process has come along

November 2019

July 2019

January 2018