Safer Space Policy

Introduction:
Open Barbers seeks to be as safe a space as possible for its staff, collaborators, salon based/home visit clients, and online and in person visitors. We ask everyone in the space to be aware of their language and behaviour and to think about whether it might be harmful or hurtful to others. We comply with the Equality Act 2010, but with this policy we aim to go further than just legal frameworks by creating an environment where everyone cares for and respects one another.

Actions:
Here are some things we would encourage everyone to keep in mind:

1. Open Barbers is used by a wide range of people with varied gender identities. We encourage each other to politely ask names and pronouns (i.e. they, she, he) and to refer to each other as people / person rather than man, woman or other terms with gendered assumptions. It’s not OK to deliberately use the wrong pronouns for anyone, but if someone refers to you with the wrong pronoun, or you realise you’ve made a mistake, we encourage people to make a correction and move on.

2. Open Barbers is used by people from a wide range of backgrounds, current circumstances and different life experiences. We encourage community and friendship building at Open Barbers, but in doing so we also request that visitors keep an open mind about other people’s identities. Take care when making assumptions about other people’s experiences or asking personal questions that may serve to satisfy your curiosity but may be upsetting to the person being asked.

3. Everyone needs different amounts of physical personal space. Some people like hugs and others don’t like to be touched at all. We wish to emphasise that this also applies to people’s mobility aids (wheelchair, stick, crutches, etc.) and assistance animals (i.e. access or therapy dogs). We encourage each other be sensitive to our own and other people’s body language and ask if we’re not sure whether the things we do are too close or unwanted. Change your behaviour if someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable. You are not personally under attack but your behaviour does need to adapt.

4. Everyone needs different amounts of emotional personal space. Some people like to talk about their emotions and experiences, and others are more private. We encourage each other to be sensitive to our own and other people’s experiences and ask if we’re not sure whether the things we say are too personal or unwanted. Change your behaviour if someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable. You are not personally under attack but your behaviour needs to adapt. It’s OK to change, or ask someone else to change, the topic of conversation.

5. Open Barbers actively welcomes people with various appearances, body shapes, and body sizes. Some people are looking to change aspects of their appearance, and others are not, and it’s important not to make assumptions about what people’s desires may be as we don’t always share the same values about what looks good. Our work often involves altering people’s looks in line with their wishes and it can feel natural to want to compliment someone after a service. While people often appreciate compliments, we also encourage people to consider asking first or paying attention if it feels that comments might not be appreciated at that time.

6. Open Barbers actively welcomes people from a wide range of backgrounds, life experiences and current circumstances. This can mean that we are sharing space with people who have different opinions, beliefs, and experiences from our own, and we don’t have to agree with everything each other says. However, we encourage each other to be aware of how our opinions, beliefs, and experiences, might be received by others in the space and to reflect on whether they may be hurtful or harmful to others. We encourage people to assume good intentions, but also to challenge each other kindly when needed. If you think there’s a chance that something could be harmful or hurtful, perhaps think twice before saying it out loud.

7. If you are challenged on something you have said or done we encourage each other to be gracious and to listen as opposed to explaining our intentions which usually comes across as being defensive. Take the opportunity to learn and grow from the generosity and energy it takes to challenge someone. We wish to create an environment where everyone in the space feels able to encourage each other into supportive and positive behaviour, and one that doesn’t punish or put people down for not knowing things. If our behaviour gets challenged, it doesn’t mean our character is under attack, but our behaviour does need to adapt.

8. Open Barbers subscribes to the social model of disability, which means we believe that when environments are designed with disabled people’s needs in mind, barriers to access are reduced or removed. We actively encourage disabled visitors and clients in our salon and to book in for home visits, and we encourage each other to be attentive to how their own actions may be making Open Barbers less accessible to others.

9. Ideally Open Barbers is a place free of alcohol and drugs for recreational purposes, particularly where these substances restrict people’s judgement or ability to manage their own language and behaviour. This is particularly important on Wednesday’s when the salon hosts an N.A meeting. If someone feels that any substances they have consumed may make it difficult for them to control their behaviour when in the space or during a home visit, we kindly request that they reschedule to another time. We do understand that sometimes substances are an important part of people’s pain relief or mental health management, and want to accommodate this where possible, as long as the person does not consume alcohol or drugs on the premises.

10. Open Barbers considers our safer spaces policy to apply in the salon, and when staff provide home visits, or work on pop up events. We can’t easily influence other people’s behaviours outside the salon, but we do consider this policy to apply to the behaviour of Open Barbers team and clients wherever they are receiving our services.  We have procedures in place to make sure that staff on home visits feel comfortable, and are able to safeguard themselves and their clients effectively. We encourage anyone receiving a home visit to get in touch if they want to raise anything. We use DBS checking procedures for any staff who do home visits, and these are updated every 3 years following best practice.

Follow up/feedback:
There are various ways to give us feedback, share any concerns, or use our complaints procedure. These are:
– Speak to a member of staff directly (will be passed on to Felix and/or Greygory)
– Suggestions box in the salon – checked weekly by Felix
– Feedback form on our website here – checked weekly by Felix
– Complaints procedure – available here and printed copies in the salon
– Collaborators are familiar with this policy, and also have their own policies and procedures in relation to their own services.

This policy is a work in progress and can change and adapt as necessary. If you have any thoughts or comments on our policy please speak with us, or email openbarbers@gmail.com. These emails are read by Greygory and Felix but are also accessed by Richard and Mable during holiday cover periods.