Disclaimer: We don’t think all charities are bad or that there are not good things being done by charities – many are incredibly necessary. We just choose to work outside this model as we think there needs to be proper alternatives as well as big systematic change.
We are not a charity. We refuse to fit into a pre-existing structure because we see many problems with all NGO and charity organisational structures.
We have decided to be an AEP (an anti establishment project). We want to create a completely new way of organising based on humanity and unlearning.
We don’t have policies, codes of conducts, monitoring forms, evaluation forms, business plans or obvious rules and regulations, and we will fund ourselves independently.
We operate instead on trust, humanity, kindness and understanding. We aim to offer solidarity rather than help and create collective responsibility for supporting one another and a space for exchange of support and ideas rather than a service that provides support. We will learn and unlearn as we go and welcome being called out or questioned.
Why we are not a charity:
Even the connotations of the word charity, for us feel quite negative. There is a feeling that charity is giving to those inferior and there is a lot to say for problematic power dynamics within th charity sector.
Having both worked for and been supported by many charities and support providers we feel that there is a lot of dangerous aspects to a charity such as hierarchy, oppressive structures, patronising systems, poverty porn and unhelpful stereotyping of survivors, to name a few. The reasons behind charities are also very problematic such as a white saviour complex, religion, money and people generally deciding what others need (and thinking they know best), rather than asking.
The way charities are funded and have to fundraise as well as have to monitor and report on their services also leads to competition where charities compete with each other not only on who is best but on who supports the most vulnerable and most needy. This creates further innacurate and exploitative representation of survivors and our experiences.
Our identity is shaped by this which is why we are often reduced to faceless, nameless shadows or sillouettes on charity marketing.
Competition between charities and funding sources also creates an attitude of superiority, defensiveness, charities deciding they are the expert (instead of survivors) and charities always having to be seen perfoming well- not being able to admit mistakes or say when they fucked up. This is not ok and means a lot of serious mistakes are hidden rather than addressed and learned from.
Monitoring and evaluation within charities is also designed to keep us powerless, vulnerable and further victimise us. We need to be vulnerable and oppressed for funders to fund the service and for the service to run a certain way.
A lot of assumptions are made within survivor charities about our experience, our identity and our recovery. Survivors are portrayed a certain way and not given much autonomy or power. We are told ‘for our saftey’ we have to use the service a certain way -our saftey is used as an excuse to hold control within the organisation.
There needs to be something very different that moves away from how survivor organisations currently operate. A space where instead of ticking boxes and filling in forms we connect with each other and see each other. A space where we can allow for mistakes and want to learn and unlearn. A space where we acknowledge privilege and power. A space where instead of having to prove your vulnerability, your need or your trauma you’re trusted unconditionally. A space where you have control and ownership of your own support. A space where we don’t have to answer to funders. A space where we see vulnerability as powerful. A space where survivors are three dimensional beings and are allowed to have a face, a name and are allowed to have more than three emotions at any one time. A space where recovery is not only hard but can be fun. A space where humour and laughter is allowed as well as crying and pain. A space where we celebrate our breakdowns and flaws as well as our coping strategies. A space where we can explore our sexualities, love and flaunt our bodies and be sex positive. A space where we have uttermost respect and trust for each others expertise in their own healing. A space where we share support, regain our power and build our resilience in our own ways that work for us.