Peer Educator Guidelines working draft

Submitted by admin on Wed, 03/15/2006 - 21:03


Freedom Center Peer Educators:
Overview and Working Guidelines For Representatives, Organizers, and Peer Counselors, Including our Mission Statement and Preramble

Freedom Center
Box 623
Northampton MA 01062
About the Freedom Center Peer Educator Program:

Peer Educators are skilled, knowledgable, experienced and compassionate advocates officially authorized by Freedom Center to represent our work. Freedom Center officially recognizes the capacity of certified Peer Educators to provide mutual aid and support to others, educate groups and individuals, be an effective advocate and organizer, speak to the media, and be a point of contact between Freedom Center and the broader community. Peer Educators make decisions that run the Freedom Center and have a vote in decisions when that governing body is not able to reach consensus.

Peer Educator certification is based on demonstrated skills, knowledge, and experience, which can be gained through being part of Freedom Center, through personal study and growth, and by taking Peer Educator trainings. Peer Educators receive their status by being approved unanimously by the governing body.This is not a formal bureaucratic process but an organic community involvement. Becoming a Peer Educator relies on the feelings and trust of everyone involved.

An individual who wishes to be certified as a Peer Educator makes a request to the Freedom Center governing body. The body makes a decision to either approve that person, or to recommend where that person still needs time to develop their skills and commitment before they can be approved. For example, the governing body might recommended they take a training, do more partnered public speaking, or do more organizing with others. People are considered potentially eligible to request Peer Educator status after at least 6 mos of collaboration as an organizer with FC.

Anyone is eligible to be a Peer Educator. Allies bear an additional burden of proof from survivors of their suitability, and are designated Peer Educator Ally.

Peer Educators agree to uphold our Working Agreements in all that they do. Peer Educators sign these Working Agreements as a commitment to the substance and meaning of Freedom Center’s work. Peer Educators are also strongly encouraged to write an Advance Directive or wellness map to foster sustainability and support.

Peer educator status can be suspended or revoked at any time by the Freedom Center governing body on grounds of drifting from or violating our Working Guidelines. If someone feels a Peer Educator is not in line with our Working Gudelines, notify the Freedom Center governing body. We will look into the situation and choose a course of action. Typically a warning will be issued, and on a third warning the person will suspended for 3 mos before they can re-petition for certification.

Peer Educator Working Guidelines:

To be certified as a Freedom Center Peer Educators, we agree to:

  • follow the Freedom Center mission statement
  • follow our Support Group Preramble:
  • follow applicable FC policies and procedures
  • work accountably with each other and consult in decisions to guide Freedom Center based on interrelationships, communication, trust, one-on-one personal contact and a spirit of collaboration
  • say yes to autonomous initiative and action within our mission and vision
  • rely on best available science and accurate information, and to be honest when we don’t know something or when science is itself unsure.
  • present feedback, responses, and criticism to each other openly, with an opportunity to reply and with and invitation to mutual listening offer criticism only in a supportive and constructive manner, providing concrete ideas for new directions and communicating directly
  • follow good practices of facilitation and meeting procedure, including not interrupting, staying on agenda topic, and supporting the facilitator(s)
  • express ourselves in meetings with a verbal and physical tone of respect
  • assume good intentions and acknowledge the sincere contributions from others
  • respect FC property, facilities, and reputation
  • act in ways that enhance and serve FC as a whole
  • acknowledge FC’s debt to the psychiatric survivor movement and women’s movement
  • always work in a spirit of activism and service, without expectation of personal gain, recognition, or advancement
  • take steps to prevent burnout and protect personal and group wellness
  • resolve interpersonal difficulties directly, in phone or in person and with the assistance of neutral mediation if agreeable to both parties, and avoid using email chat or internet
  • conduct friendships and relationships at Freedom Center, including any intimate, romantic, or sexual relationships, according to principles of respect, self-determination and informed consent, and to be cautious in these relationships when power imbalances may exist, such as between newcomers and more experienced members, or between survivors and allies
  • work to overcome any obstacles to accessing meetings, events and resources
  • invite and encourage newcomer involvement by sharing power and opportunities for leadership and responsibility, offering training and support and stepping back where appropriate
  • work to level and horizontalize power by offering speaking, publishing, organizing and other leadership opportunities to less experienced people
  • work to ensure quality control of all work, balanced with need to include less experienced people
  • recognize the skills, knowledge, dedication, and quality of work that experienced organizers have brought, while at the same time using the privilege of these skills to advance the organization and support others in developing them as well
  • keep FC as a whole informed of our work and inform the public about our work via the website and email lists, and to stay informed about FC
  • recognize, acknowledge, and recognize the work that each other all do and not take it for granted
  • follow state and federal laws applicable to our work except when explicitly intending to break them as an organizing strategy
  • recognize the need we all have for personal and career development, and support individual opportunities and development as spin-offs from FC, while at the same time not making FC a vehicle for personal advancement or personal power, recognition, or money
  • give money earned from speaking engagements to Freedom Center when FC was approached for the engagement, only receiving money personally when the speaker was approached directly for their own personal experience
  • expect that our involvement is a personal growth and learning experience by encountering views and experiences different from our own
  • approach conflict as a potentially positive learning experience that is intrinsic to group collaboration
  • understand and expect that between us there may be real inequalities in access to power privilege and resources in society, and work to acknowledge and overcome those differences as a way of collaborating better
  • work to build movements by actively joining with outside groups, and to not be territorial or competitive with groups when they share our overall vision and direction or are working in alliance with us
  • hold each other accountable to these working guidelines and present concerns about drifting from these agreements to the governing body for consideration and action
  • observe strict transparency in all financial interactions
  • reimburse for expenses only when the payment was approved beforehand. significant expenses must be approved in writing and the spender is liable for payments if there is disagreement and no record of the agreement is available
  • share our creations according to the creative commons license: free circulation if source is cited, no changes are made, and no commercial interests are involved, unless otherwise specified in advance
  • communicate and collaborate on all funding and resource development opportunities
  • respect the confidentiality requests of everyone we work with
  • respect the acommodation needs of everyone we work with
  • name, challenge, and provide constructive alternatives to racism, classism, homophobia and other forms of oppression and privilege, focusing on behavior and not personality
  • respect diversity in communication styles, cultural orientations, and relationship to dominant reality
  • ensure that all services and events are accessible to people regardless of income
  • reject dependency on Freedom Center volunteers or services and to assume personal responsibility for contributing concretely when we can
  • decline financial or any other kind of support from pharmaceutical companies or their front groups, and if in doubt to discuss this
  • disclose any financial or other relationship that may create a conflict of interest
  • express our limits and only take on responsibilities when they are sustainable and nourish us
  • communicate immediately when we are unable to fulfill a responsibility or commitment, and to be met with support and understanding when doing so
  • unconditionally accept the right of anyone to withdraw from any work responsibility whatsoever on grounds of personal wellness

To be signed and dated by certified Peer Educators

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