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Day 2   0900 - robin parry & ben klassen
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Day 2 0900 - robin parry & ben klassen


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  • 1. Social Support Groups: Do They Still Have a Role in 2013?
  • 2. Are Groups Still Relevant? Definitely!
  • 3. Are Groups Still Relevant? Groups are a site of information gathering, social connection, exposure to diversity of ideas and lived experiences, and a positive determinant of health.
  • 4. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • • • • Being heard Develop confidence Validate identity and worth Reason to leave the house Anti-oppressive influence Intellectual stimulation
  • 5. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Access to trusted figures- facilitators, community leaders, peers Access to experts that may not be financially or socially accessible for participants otherwise
  • 6. Are Groups Still Relevant? Many participants graduate to facilitating, supporting, becoming community leaders
  • 7. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Groups are especially important for socially disconnected men Community connection is important in different ways to different cohorts
  • 8. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • Groups empower older men who may be losing power in their lives Chosen family: Queer men more likely to age alone, be re-closeted, face cohort oppression Not many queer-safe youth or seniors’ spaces in the city
  • 9. Are Groups Still Relevant? • Groups VS online/bars/sports: A false dichotomy • Other environments can complement groups • Group participation can be a step toward other environments • People move on when they’ve got what they needed
  • 10. Are Groups Still Relevant? Many environments • Invisibilise seniors and diversely abled folk • Are not accessible in terms of hours, addictions, mobility…
  • 11. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • • Face to face engagement is important for social and mental health Tech-based interactions can facilitate but also impede interactions Meeting offline may depend on social or sexual capital; Groups aim to be open to all
  • 12. Are Groups Still Relevant? • • Groups aim to be a structured, safer facilitated space Groups may be an easier space to discuss health and relationship topics than bars for many
  • 13. Are Groups Still Relevant? There is clear value (feedback and demand) and challenges (numbers)
  • 14. Groups and Information Access Groups vary from information-centred groups to groups where information is packaged in with social activities or support circles
  • 15. Groups and Information Access • • Expert human guest speakers offer dynamic responses, trust, authority, safer space for people to open up with questions Low barrier access to experts eg medical, legal, HIV disclosure
  • 16. Groups and Information Access • • • Referrals, information on community resources Information from trusted sources and peers is shown to be effective Discussion boosts information retention
  • 17. Groups and Information Access • • • Opportunity to SHARE knowledge, lived experience Intergenerational knowledge and skill sharing Exposure to different perspectives, lived experiences, ways of processing information boosts critical thought
  • 18. Groups and Information Access • • • Not everyone is online, and not everyone reads Not everyone actively seeks new information Confidentiality- no browser history, people walking past in the library
  • 19. Groups and Social Access • • Bars are less and less dominant in facilitating social health in the computer age, but technology may not meet all social needs Technology and bars require money
  • 20. Groups and Social Access • • • • • Friendships, mentorships formed Less sexual pressure and requirement for sexual capital Trust, sharing Source of “resilience” Opportunities for chosen family development
  • 21. Groups and Social Access • • • Concern for well-being: absences noticed Queers more likely to age alone, be alienated from biological families Skill sharing and teaching such as transport, tech skills to facilitate online dating
  • 22. Groups and Social Access • • • • Socialising before and after Cliques to some degree Facilitation can help avoid exclusion Not everyone will make friends from a group- set realistic expectations
  • 23. Groups and Health Outcomes Not a panacea, but a piece
  • 24. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Participants check-in reporting a bad day or week, and check-out reporting feeling good Groups can be an escape, positive social experience, a place to laugh, and way to de-stress
  • 25. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Works against internalized homophobia and minority stress, leading to better holistic health Relief of talking to peers who get your experiences
  • 26. Groups and Health Outcomes • • • Connection to community health resources Didactic information, discussion Physical health focused groups such as Chronically Queer, Gen Yoga
  • 27. Groups and Health Outcomes • • Sounding board and availability of trusted facilitators Healthy routine
  • 28. Groups and Diversity More exposure than might happen organically
  • 29. Groups and Diversity • • • • • • • • • • • Intergenerational Multicultural Religious Gender identities Gender expression Ability Newcomers and refugees Education Sexual orientations Ideas +++
  • 30. Groups and Diversity • • • • Understanding of diverse cultural norms and competencies Self-advocacy “Curriculum” diversityopenness, resistance, and water on stone Mostly able to interact positively
  • 31. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? Who comes and/or comes back? • Out guys • Gay-identified • Looking for something besides sex • Anticipates their needs being met • Positive previous experiences with groups
  • 32. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? Who doesn’t come, or doesn’t come back? • 25-40 • Worried about being outed- whether entering the building or by fellow participants
  • 33. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • Embarrassment barrier to discussing topics such as risk or kink face to face. Good facilitation can help overcome this, but only if people show up! Stigma of support group Don’t see self represented- age, cultural background, ability…
  • 34. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • • Not engaged with organizations Men who feel alienated from gay community Unable to access the spacemobility, geography, outness, hours, food not provided… Classism
  • 35. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • Couples First impression was on a slow night, or with a speaker they didn’t identify with
  • 36. Who’s There… and Who’s Missing? • • • Do groups exclude or create space for introverts, socially anxious men? Perception of what the group is Some like structure, some don’t- you can’t please everyone!
  • 37. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • Difficult! Inclusive organizational cultures trickle down to programs, groups Outreach to marginalized groups
  • 38. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • • Diverse non-tokenized speakers Scour your curriculum for oppression Accessibility; Environment, geography, hours, language, facilities… Space for different communication and learning styles
  • 39. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • • • Space for all levels of English Space for diverse knowledge, experiences, ideas Facilitators trained in anti-oppression Look for oppression and exclusion in discussions; it’s sneaky! Male privilege
  • 40. Intentional Inclusiveness • Safer space agreement: • Clear • Participant buy-in, contribution to • Pronoun checks • Safe to speak or pass; Space sharing • Empower group to address breaches of safer space in an appropriate way
  • 41. Intentional Inclusiveness • • • Facilitators must actively have the hard conversations; challenge exclusion and oppression; create learning experiences; model behaviours Cliques are difficult to realistically avoid Don’t get complacent- oppression will always happen!
  • 42. Sustainability • • • • • Participant ownership Volunteers active in planning and management Staff involved- attend at least at the beginning Groups have agency and responsibility to problem solve Communication among all stakeholders
  • 43. Sustainability • • • • Facilitators have an opportunity to shadow, train, be mentored Support for facilitators: check-ins, multiple facilitators, relief facilitators or breaks available Facilitators don’t burn candle at both ends: workload and commitments Facilitators, not leaders
  • 44. Sustainability • • • • Well-selected facilitators with the ability to compartmentalize Make time to really recognize your incredible volunteers! Knowledge sharing between facilitators Debriefing as a habit
  • 45. Sustainability • Guest speakers, outings, movies, topics, open discussion- mix things up! • Well-briefed speakers who gel with the group • Mix of structured and open time within a session • Relationships focus
  • 46. Sustainability • • • Assess needs before and during - why are we doing this? Don’t reinvent the wheel What are the actual needs? Do men need a coming out group, or are they finding barriers to accessing queer community?
  • 47. Sustainability • • • • • Need may come in waves Groups often have a natural shelf life Try for a year before discontinuing a group Promote, partner (more time commitment but more reach and resources) Niche VS numbers
  • 48. Mind the Gap • • • Promoting privilege Setting oneself up as the sole expert Uninvolved staff
  • 49. Mind the Gap • • • Underbriefed presenters Underprepared, insufficiently trained facilitators A lot of human variables are inherently unpredictable!
  • 50. Mind the Gap • • • Organizations can never know for sure if facilitators are working ethically, inclusively Trying to do everything, or prioritizing poorly Ultimately: Insufficient organizational investment, often as a result of trying to do too much