Who runs this can anyone get involved?
There are just two of us (Bryony and Megan, we are both survivors in case you didn’t already know). At the moment the main running of the project is going to stay just us. Although help with some tasks is still needed. This is because we are at a really early stage of the project and we want to make sure we are really solid in how we operate and move forward. Having been involved in many charities and organisations in the past we are very careful in making sure we do this the right way and are still unlearning many of the systems that can be dangerous and problematic. We need you for this too by making suggestions or calling us out as we go. When we are a bit further along with the project we will be open to more involvement. We are survivor led so it will always be led by survivors or those who have experienced sexual violence. There are some tasks we really need support with every now and again so get intouch to see what you can do.
Why aren’t you a charity?
Read our post about this here
I want to support you but don’t have any money how can I help?
If you want to support us fundraising would be amazing. We have some exciting ideas of ways to fundraise here. As there is only two of us a the moment, we always need extra help with things like admin and random tasks. Conact us directly if you want to help. We are also open to you randomly surprising us with presents and treats to keep us energised.
Who can apply and how do you monitor and asses applications?
Anyone who identifies as a survivor (regardless of gender) or who doesn’t identify as a survivor but has experienced rape, sexual violence/abuse/harassment/coercion, domestic violence/abuse, gender based violence/abuse, trafficking or FGM/C. We don’t dictate or judge who can apply. We strongly believe within accessing support there is too much proving your vulnerability and worth, and too many assessments and evaluations that once again make us feel inferior and more vulnerable. We operate on a trust basis. When someone applies they fill out a very simple application of six basic questions (most are optional). The process is if we have funds and receive an application it is granted. There is no feedback or evaluation forms for the applicant. If you are a partner, friend or relative of a survivor and have no money but want to treat them, you can also apply and use the fund to buy them a gift or do something nice together. You are not expected to tell them where the money came from.
So what actually happens to money I donate?
Your money goes directly to the fund. We use PayPal and money stays in our PayPal until a survivor applies and we send them funds they’ve applied for. We use PayPal as they don’t take a cut from what you donate like other fundraising platforms. We don’t have a bank because we are not a charity or official governing body (if you want to know why see here). If someone apples from a country with different currency to the pound (which has happened) they get the full amount of £10 in their currency at the current conversion rate. PayPal does charge a tiny amount for this (between 30p £1.20) which comes out the fund not the mini grant going to the recipient. We also don’t pay ourselves any money to run the fund or have an office space.
How do you sustain yourselves?
We rely on independent donations (this means no grants, sponsors or conglomerates getting involved and restricting, controlling or interfering with what we do and how we operate). This is harder to get funds (so do support us :-p ) but means we can maintain control of how we offer support based entirely on what survivors tell us they need. This is imperative to be able to stand up for what we believe in and be able to run something in a completely different way. We are not payed and work in free time when we have capacity, energy, joy and desire to. Having both experienced burnout from unhealthy working patterns in the past it is important that we have developed this more organic way of working that suits our needs.
Do we use the fund ourselves?
Um yes! It wouldn’t make sense to not practice what we preach and we are survivors too. We don’t see ourselves separate from those that apply and so it is important that we treat ourselves and take breaks too. So if we want cake and coffee after we have been working we make ourselves indulge.
Can I apply more than once?
Yes. There aren’t any rules or restrictions around this and we don’t believe that support should be restricted or capped. However we believe in distributing this fund fairly so if we get a high volume of people applying we might have to look at who hasn’t already applied and work out the fairest way of sharing funds. We are still trying to figure this out so any suggestions are very welcome.
What if I don’t have a PayPal account?
If you don’t have a PayPal account give us the Paypal email address of a person that you trust and we can transfer it to them to get the money out for you. We know some people don’t have or have access to bank accounts due to immigration status or because they currently live in a safe house or have no fixed abode. We are trying to make this as accessible as possible so any suggestions are welcome.
The Mutual Support Collective:
How do I join?
Email us at email@example.com and we will send you an email with some questions to answer to get a sense of what you want from the process and some questions to answer with the person you are connected with.
What kind of support will we give each other?
This project is aimed at creating greater connections between survivors and building our strength and resilience collectively in non-hierarchical ways and as an alternative to other support services. This is not therapy. This is the opportunity to be connected to and have conversations with another person who has also experienced sexual violence, to find ways to offer each other the space to talk and listen. You will control how this works for you. There are no set rules. This is an exchange and a space to create the specific kind of support you need. You will both set your own boundaries and work out what each other feel comfortable with. This could look like weekly or monthly messages, texts, emails or phone calls, it could be exchanging letters or having video calls. You could have set topics to talk about or work through or you could want to find ways to support your mental health together – like building up tools to manage breakdowns or regulate your nervous system. You might want to be more creative and exchange artwork or make playlists for each other. It could be just someone to talk to about anything.
What if I don’t feel a connection or it feels wrong?
It is important you both feel comfortable supporting each other so if either of you feel the connection just isn’t right that is totally ok (sometimes you just don’t gel). Let us know at any point and we will re-connect you both with someone else.
How can I manage my boundaries and not give more than I am able?
We send you a set of suggested questions to ask yourself around boundaries but you are responsible for creating open communication around d what your boundaries are to each other. If you do need advice around boundaries you can always ask us for support but remember we are not experts, we are still trying to learn and manage our own boundaries too.
What if I want a break?
It is a good idea to communication with your connection at the very beginning about how you will inform each other when you want a break so that when you do it is easier to be clear. Taking a break from co-support is important as you are looking after your energy. Make sure you both try to discuss the importance of looking after both your energy and being able to take breaks without guilt. If you really feel like you can’t say to your connection that you need a break you can ask us to let them know but we encourage you both to manage this independently where possible.