Fancy becoming an Active Bystander Facilitator?

Don’t listen to us, let Avery Delany, a PHD Anthropology student (and facilitator extraordinaire), convince you to give it a go too…

‘Alongside my student role, I’m also an Active Bystander Facilitator. This means I’m employed by the SU to teach training sessions to fellow students about how to safely intervene where an incidence of sexual violence may be occurring or where someone might be at risk.

I came to the role after completing my undergraduate degree at Goldsmiths, followed by a year out before returning last year for my Masters. It was then, while checking the SU website, that I read about the job. As someone who also comes from a background of youth work and sexual health outreach, I knew I had to apply.

After being offered the job in June, I started training sessions – three with Rape Crisis London and then a refresher. We went into lots of depth and I felt confident, although of course a little nervous, about starting the training and meeting the students.  

In terms of the structure of the sessions, they last two-and-a-half-hours and follow a script, although that can deviate a bit depending on the makeup of the group.

The training always begins with a group agreement, which details things like respect, so everyone feels comfortable. One of the facilitation tools we use is called “meeting people where they’re at,” so it’s less about challenging thoughts head on and more about discussing why someone might think and feel a certain way.

The session includes a myths and statistics section and, as a facilitator, your focus is on teasing out what the reality of that myth is about. Sometimes people are adamant that what they’re saying is a fact, so you have to be careful about how you deal with that. But that’s why we facilitate in pairs, so there’s always someone to help and support you.

As well as a presentation, we also play a video and form a discussion around it. We cover scenarios and a short role play, so we engage with students on different levels. It’s less of a lecture and more of a workshop.

You don’t have to be a particular type of person to be facilitator, in the same way you don’t have to be a specific person to be an active bystander. You just do it in a different way.

I’ve already got a lot out of the role – and I’ve really developed my active listening skills. I’ve learnt to give space for different conversations and let people have their opinions.

If you’re thinking about becoming a facilitator, I’d recommend you go for it. It’s rewarding and there’s a lot of support. We have weekly team meetings, one-to-one development, plus supervision with Rape Crisis London where we talk about the emotional impact of the work. Having an employer like the SU, who values the work that we do is also really positive. And when students leave a session, it’s so rewarding to hear them say thank you, especially when you’ve just been talking about something so heavy.

Everyone comes to be a facilitator for different reasons. For most of us, though, we just want to be the solution to a problem. We recognise that we can play a role in changing the campus culture around sexual violence. This kind of training wasn’t something I was offered as an undergraduate - and I think it showed. The culture at Goldsmiths has really shifted in my time here and hopefully the Active Bystander Training is contributing to that change. I like to think my work has made a difference.’

**We're recruiting for Peer Facilitators to join the Against Sexual Violence Campaign. Apply here by 6th November at 9am. Good luck!**