The Southampton T&Q group who have just redone their group contract.
These are Laura’s words about the process. Laura is co-facilitator of the group:
At T&Q Southampton we have been doing our group contract, where everyone sits down and discusses what we want to have as our rules. As a new co-facilitator it was my first time being around for the writing of one and it was so helpful to get together as a group to agree how we want the group to run.
Before the session started the facilitators wrote up the structure of the sessions, in black at the bottom of the “Group Rules”, but everything else was up for discussion or suggestion. (I draw your attention to a rule so important it’s now part of the structure: no rocking on chairs!)
We have a lot of new faces at T&Q recently and for them it was their first opportunity to have a say too. I could see that initially people were reluctant to know how to approach the making of our own rules, but our lead facilitator did a great job putting everyone at ease and started by suggesting a big rule. A rule that comes up an awful lot in T&Q: you are trans enough. I want to repeat that, in bold, because it’s so important. You are trans enough. In group, no matter where you are in your journey, you can be yourself and know that everyone around you thinks you are trans enough too.
From that point on suggestions for rules came a lot faster, starting with another big one, it’s okay to not be okay, and ending with a reiteration of the no rocking on chairs rule! As a facilitator it was wonderful to see the group come together and all chip in, discussing how the wording should be, offering little amendments, and generally supporting one another. It felt like a necessary and vital part of us re-establishing our own T&Q identity after having some members leave and new members join. I now understand why this should be a fairly regular occurrence as it makes sure everyone in the group feels like their have a stake in it, they have a voice in how it works, and they know that the facilitators will support them uphold the rules they have created.
So just to recap, group rules are great (don’t rock on chairs).