New Safer Spaces Policy
What is a Safer Spaces Policy?
A safer spaces policy is an outline of how we request staff, clients and visitors to behave in our space. The purpose is to support everyone to feel comfortable and respected, especially those from marginalised communities who regularly face prejudice in broader society.
The policy contains some explanations to help people understand how their behaviour might be unsafe for others, and some suggestions for ways to share space with or interact with others respectfully.
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. As such, we would always aim to challenge racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, fatphobia, ableism, ageism, or discrimination based on gender, gender presentation, nationality, asylum and immigration status, ethnicity, religion, cultural and/or spiritual beliefs, language ability or any other kind of oppressive language or behaviour.
Here are some things we would encourage everyone to keep in mind. Please click on the + icons for more detail on each suggestion.
1. 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
Open Barbers is used by a wide range of people with varied gender identities. 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. We encourage community and friendship building at Open Barbers, but in doing so we also request that visitors avoid making assumptions about other people’s backgrounds
Open Barbers is used by people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, current financial circumstances and different life experiences. Keep an open mind 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). 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, unwanted or triggering. 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 and equally we ask you to respect the privacy and confidentiality of people whose disclosures you overhear in the salon.
5. You’re welcome to take photos in the salon, but please seek permission from anyone you capture in your photos
Clients and staff may feel uncomfortable being in photos if they don’t know you or how you will use their image, even if they’re just in the background. Some people may feel ‘outed’ by being documented at Open Barbers or simply don’t enjoy having their photo taken. Please be mindful of this when documenting the space and consider these issues before posting on social media.
6. 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 to whether it feels that comments might not be appreciated at that time.
7. As most disabilities are not visible, people’s access needs or the levels of pain they are managing might not match your assumptions
Not all disabilities present steadily or consistently all of the time. Flare ups and fatigue can become activated and disabilities can fluctuate in impact over time. Disability is sometimes, but not always, about limited mobility. Keep this in mind before commenting on people’s mental and physical appearances. Aim to meet people where they are at that moment, by inviting and listening to input and requests. While wishing people to ‘get well soon’ might be well intentioned, for those living with chronic physical and mental health conditions, and chronic pain, this is usually not very likely or very helpful.
8. At Open Barbers we will be sharing space with people who have different opinions, beliefs, and experiences from our own
We don’t have to agree on everything, 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.
9. If challenged on something you have said or done, we encourage us all 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.
10. Open Barbers subscribes to the social model of disability
This 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 to 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.
11. 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. 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.
12. 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 behaviour outside the salon, but we do consider this policy to apply to the behaviour of the 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.
There are a few ways to give us feedback or share your concerns:
1. Speak to a member of staff directly (this will be passed onto Toddy and/or Greygory)
2. Complete an anonymous feedback form on our website here – checked by Toddy and Greygory (please include your contact details if you want a response.)
3. Follow our complaints procedure – available here
Back room collaborators are familiar with this policy, and also have their own policies and procedures in relation to their own services. This policy is always 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. These emails are read by Directors Greygory and Toddy but are also accessed by Nell and Mable during holiday cover periods.