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Barriers

We aim to be a diverse and inclusive organisation. As a new organisation we are constantly learning and aiming to improve how we work so that we can achieve this. After our first round of funding we consulted grantees (successful and unsuccessful) and members about their experiences, as well as paying for a consultant to attend and observe processes at our final meeting and speak with participants. This is just the start of the process and we’re committed to continuing to reflect, review and evolve as often as we need to, for as long as we need to.

Some barriers we have identified, along with ways we hope to lessen them, are listed below. Barriers are often connected to  impairments, disabilities, gender, sexuality, race, nationality and class but people’s skills, knowledge and confidence to take part can also be affected by life experiences unconnected to these factors. There are also other issues to take into account such as location, finances, technology, time and being carers or parents. Even with an organisational structure that gives every member an equal say, informal hierarchies, that give some people power over others, can emerge and we all have to keep an eye on this to ensure everyone is able to take part.

Location

Edge Fund members and grantees are based across the UK. We have members in major cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and London but also in all places in between. Our co-ordinator works from home in Dorset. So far, for logistical reasons all our meetings have taken place in London and are likely to do so for a little while longer while we become more established and grow in members. Whilst much of the work associated with Edge Fund can be done remotely (e.g. people send in their application ratings by email), we realise that holding all our meetings in London makes it difficult for members outside of London to take part. Also, on a political level we recognise that Londoners are often at an advantage over others because of where they live and to effectively break down all issues of power in society we need to address this.

  • We have long-term aims to regionalise and recently held a launch event in Glasgow with a view to this being our first ‘Edge Hub’ in future with others to follow as resources allow.
  • In the meantime, we will aim to make it as easy as possible for people outside London to attend meetings by covering travel and other costs associated with attending and setting meeting dates at least a month in advance.
  • We’re also putting together a map of where all our members and applicants are, which you can see on our Contact page.

Time

Taking part in Edge Fund takes time and many people who want to take part are either very busy with other projects in their spare time or have personal commitments.

  • We will ask members about their time constraints and take a flexible approach to member responsibilities as much as possible.
  • We have formed a Facilitating Group to take some of the workload off members.
  • We have recently agreed to form an Advisory Group who will also take some of the pressure off members.

Technology

Many parts of the process require the use of a computer and the internet, for example, for receiving information about upcoming meetings, receiving applications and sending back ratings.

  • We will ask new members what their requirements are in relation to technology and cover costs of an internet cafe where needed, organise for them to meet with another member or print off information and send this to them.

Financial

Some people may not be able to afford the costs of taking part in Edge, such as travel to meetings or covering childcare costs to allow them to attend. Also, there may be a cost to an organisation for allowing an employee or volunteer to participate in Edge Fund.

  • We will ensure, the best we can, that no one is out of pocket by taking part in Edge. We will offer to make a donation to an organisation to compensate for lost staff time where needed, if for example, they need to pay for someone else to come in to replace the Edge member. We will cover travel, respite care, childcare and other costs on case-by-case basis.

Disabled people and barriers to participation

Disabled people may encounter barriers in accessing venues, participating in meetings or in accessing online information.

  • We will ask new members if they need any adjustments including; large print or Easy Read accessible documents/formats, particular access needs, BSL interpreters for events and floating personal assistance at events.

Culture/language

Cultural barriers are perhaps the most difficult to overcome. It takes time to build up trust across communities. Also, people who don’t speak English as a first language may find it difficult to understand guidelines or to follow often fast-paced discussions at meetings.

  • We will ask new members about their requirements and concerns and do what we can to accommodate them.
  • We are constantly trying to grow and diversify our membership so that new members have people they can immediately relate to. Members are welcome to form subgroups to discuss issues.
  • We are in the process of establishing a diverse Advisory Group who can help us to outreach to communities, for example by adapting materials, including translations.
  • Our website can now be translated to over 40 different languages.

Confidence, skills and knowledge

People’s level of confidence, skills and knowledge have a huge impact on their ability to take part. Thanks to Radical Routes How to Set up a Worker’s Coop handbook for the suggestions below.

  • We will develop an induction process for members, including a handbook.
  • We’ll ensure roles are rotated.
  • We’ll actively challenge the ‘expert’ mentality that often results in new ideas being overlooked if they are not from someone with the relevant experience or qualifications.
  • Meetings will be well facilitated and use methods such as go-rounds to ensure everyone has the opportunity to have a say.
  • We will encourage more experienced members to support new members.
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