Action Wellbeing Manual
A guide to regenerative culture
ABOUT THIS TRAINING
In this training, we will cover the roles and methodology of action wellbeing. This training was originally created by Extinction Rebellion UK and was modified for NooWorld.
This training is a 14 Minute read.
THE ROLES OF ACTION WELLBEING
ACTION SUPPORT ROLES
- Action Coordinator — An excellent communicator, both verbally and electronically. Makes sure that everyone is in the loop and given the action go-ahead in the moment. Needs to be able to think on their feet and be strategically responsive. Advised to not risk arrest and have a backup coordinator. Could have one coordinator’s phone that is passed on if switching roles. On the ground, it is useful to have 3 people in this role to make quick decisions via consensus together, or individually if the need arises. Ahead of time, it is important to have one person as the final decision maker for the project.
- Police Liaison — Ready to speak to police before and during actions.
- Logistics — Person to lead on gathering equipment required and taking it away
- Stewards — Help guide people where to go and speak to the public and hand out flyers.
- Legal Observers — On the ground at an action. Legal observers are trained volunteers who support the legal rights of activists. Legal observers are independent of the protest and do not participate. They monitor arrests, collect witnesses and help connect arrestees with support at the police station.
- Media team — Live-stream, take the footage to edit, interview people, etc.
- Spokesperson — Ready to speak to any press and are well-versed on the narrative of the action and core values and demands of their organization
- De-escalation — Person who has good skills at calming a situation, e.g. speaking to a rowdy member of the public or speaking to a crowd to calm an undesired atmosphere
- Anchor — A point of stability during the tumult of action and offers check-ins as needed by rebels on the ground. They might be someone who can’t come to the action or wants to support from a distance, thus conserving their energies especially for pre and post-action support.
- Arrestee Support — Willing to go and wait at police stations to welcome brave rebels back to the free world: making sure they can get transport home, that they are ok, giving them massive love. Preferably go in pairs. This could involve waiting long through the night so needs designated shifts. This role requires good communication with the back office about where arrestees have gone. Arrestee Support people must be sober.
Note: The last three are Regenerative Culture roles. In Affinity Groups, these roles may be held by the same people like the ones doing Action Wellbeing.
ACTION WELLBEING ROLES
- We advise everyone involved in an action to have a Personal Anchor. This is someone who isn’t at the action and is able to support you remotely especially with check-ins before, during, and after the action as needed. Anchors are there to ground rebels and help them re-connect when they return home, especially after an arrest. Anchors are less likely to be swept up by the tumult of action and can provide a kind, outside perspective that helps rebels to integrate their experiences with their lives and the world around them.
- We think it’s important for everyone to have a Buddy to help them feel connected and supported at an action. This means simply pairing up with someone at the action.
Within Affinity Groups
- The Action Wellbeing Advocate in affinity groups is there to specifically lookout for the 8-12 people in their affinity group.
- An Action Wellbeing Anchor is someone who reserves their energy (possibly away from the action) in order to support post-action wellbeing such as welcoming home, debrief, talking circles for the whole group.
- At actions with more than one or two affinity groups, we try to have additional Action Wellbeing Supporters and First Aiders.
- Action Wellbeing Coordinators help in the preparation of action, for example by creating a rota of Action Wellbeing Supporters and First Aiders, organize training and kits. During the action, they help with hand-overs between shifts. After actions, they organize debriefs for the Wellbeing Supporters and Advocates so we can learn from each other’s experience
- At large actions, they will have a Well-being hub as a calm, quiet space for first aid.
ACTION WELLBEING BASICS
Action Wellbeing Supporters (WBs)
The main role of WellBeing Supporters is to provide physical support as needed during the action (e.g. blanket if its cold, tarps and brollies if it rains, biscuits if people have a post adrenaline sugar crash); emotional support during the action, including de-escalation when needed and during arrest (e.g. walk with the arrestee to the van to give them comfort). They also look out for vulnerable people and their well-being.
- It is NOT the WBs role to take the emotional strain from others. They support people in looking after their own mental health.
- WBs need to be proactive, energetic, compassionate, and keep an eye on the situation.
First Aiders (FA)
- First aiders are less involved in the action than WB. First aid stations should be near the main action in a safe area, with at 1 FA always at the station (on shift). Other FAs are visible around the action.
- FA qualification – preferably no longer than 2 years since they were trained; people who have done only basic training are to ‘buddy up’ with more experienced FAs.
Setting up a Wellbeing Point
- Once you arrive on-site and the action has started, find a spot that is close enough to have an eye on the action, but separate and safe enough to set up a wellbeing point. One FA person and one WB person should always be there so people know where to find help if needed.
- People tend to use the point to drop their bags there. Remind them that it is their responsibility and that you cannot guarantee that there will always be someone to look after their stuff (after all, you’re there for the people, not the things). However, if possible, one person should always be at the Wellbeing Point.
- If you haven’t had the chance before, familiarise yourself with the contents of the wellbeing kits and backpacks so you know where things are when you need them.
Walking around in buddy pairs
- Those not at the Wellbeing Point can walk around at the Action site, getting familiar with the vibe, the people, seeing whether there are any vulnerable people or people who will need some assistance now or later (e.g., warm drinks, blankets, sunscreen).
- Have chats with people and ask them how they are.
In case of...
- Minor injuries: call over a first aider
- Serious injuries: call an ambulance
- Someone feeling overwhelmed/seems distressed: take aside to sit down, offer water/reassurance/to call a friend/family if needed
- Someone feeling unwell and needing to leave the action: ensure they have assistance/company- either a friend or trusted wellbeing person, do NOT send them off with someone unknown, or on their own.
- Someone taking direct action intoxicated or behaving in a way that doesn’t adhere to XR’s principles and values/the action consensus eg: Being verbally or physically violent: let the person know that we are a strictly nonviolent movement with a set of principles & values guiding our work and that they either have to stop or leave.
- Being kettled by the police - call the coordinators for advice.
- Support arrestees when they are taken off to the police van or if they are alone, accompanying them to the van and being the last smiling and supportive face they see before they are taken away.
ACTION WELLBEING TASKS
Providing physical support
- For example, blanket and hand warmers if it’s cold (or people are glued on), tarps and brollies if it rains; water and sun cream on a hot day; biscuits for post adrenaline sugar crash. Helping someone maneuver if they have been stuck in an uncomfortable position for a long time, or finding a cushion or a bit or cardboard to pad their seat whilst glued or locked on to something.
Providing emotional support
- This may include de-escalation when needed, a listening ear, company to someone glued or locked onto something, or encouraging people to sleep/rest if they seem sleep-deprived/ burnt out. You might want to support someone by giving them a hug. Make sure you ask for consent. Don’t assume that they want to be touched. And check in with yourself first, this might not be something you feel comfortable with and that’s fine too.
Pay attention to
- People who appear to be alone
- People from marginalized communities
- Vulnerable people including children
Checking-in with arrestable
- Before and during an action, check in with people and see if they are planning to be arrested. If they are, then explore the following with them - explain that this is not to deter them, but it is to make sure they are fully prepared to maintain their wellbeing through the criminal justice system:
- Reasons & Motivations
- “ How did you decide that you want to be arrestable?”
- “Do you have any fears or concerns about being arrested?” "Do you have any concern that any of your traits/qualities may impact your experience at an action or during arrest (e.g. ethnicity, class, disability, sexual orientation)"
- “What impact do you think this will have on you and your family/friends? What do you think is the worst-case scenario?”
- Support & Preparation
- “How have you prepared yourself for today?” e.g., attended NVDA, know your rights, informed family)
- “What is your support network like?” e.g. part of an affinity group, police station support, has an anchor at home, has a buddy with them at the action.
- “How does today, including any arrests, court appearances, etc. link in with the rest of your life, your plans, your values?” Link back to the motivation at the beginning. Help the activist to return to a positive place after what could be difficult questions.
Providing emotional support and safeguarding during arrest
- Walk with the arrestee to the van. It’s important that they have a smiling, friendly face as the last part of the action they see before sitting by themselves for hours.
- Are the handcuffs too tight?
- Are people’s arms or legs getting twisted?
- Are the police minding for injuries, vulnerabilities?
If something is hurting the person you are supporting, vocalize it calmly and clearly. It is important to remain very calm in this situation even if you are friends with the arrestee. Remain centred, because yelling at a police officer helps no one.
Wellbeing Rights in police custody for arrestees during arrest
- Up to 3 Blankets
- Access to a book, notepad, food, tea
- Right to have the lights off
- They won’t necessarily be offered these things; they may have to ask!
Help find Legal Observers
This may be if someone is getting arrested or the police are getting violent/overstepping their remit. If no Legal observers can be found:
- Ask what police station the arrestee is being taken to
- Note down the arresting officer’s name and identifying number (found on the pips on their jackets.
- Note down the physical appearance of the arrestee so your organization can try and figure out who they are. They may not want to give their name so do not ask it.
- You or one of the arrestee’s buddies to call the back office and pass on the information
Note: It is not the Wellbeing Supporter’s role to take on the emotional strain of others.
They support people in looking after their own mental health. If you feel like you are the only person that someone can talk to, your support has gone too far. Your role is to help them identify their own support networks: friends, family, affinity groups, buddy, and anchor. You should always have someone who can help you/somewhere to refer a situation to if it is more than you can deal with. You can refer them to the Trained Emotional Support Network for further support post action.
ACTION WELLBEING COORDINATION
Beyond the Affinity Group level, Action Wellbeing Coordination includes some more planning before and after an action. Here are some tasks that should be thought about. In larger groups, these may be separate roles within the Action Wellbeing Coordination Team.
- Training — organizing training in Action Wellbeing and/or organize training for FAs (first aid and mental health first aid). Includes setting up a list of trainers to call on.
- Finance and Kit — Keeping an eye on the budget sheet and inventory, restocking as necessary, and encouraging people to return kits after actions.
- Local Connects — Getting and staying in touch with affinity and other local groups and their Action Wellbeing / Regenerative Culture advocates. Helps with the information flow (docs, videos, and guidelines) to local groups, trainings in their areas, and feedback from local groups (e.g., communicate the number of rebels involved, trainings still needed, and collating debriefs to learn from).
- Communication Advocate — Keeps an eye on emails and other communication channels. Writes email blasts and Facebook posts and connects with integration. Keeps an eye on basecamp flow.
- Debrief Facilitator — Organise and facilitate action debriefs, at larger actions the daily debriefs.
- Rebel Sanctuary — A stationary hub running workshops, sharing circles, and facilitated sessions for anyone involved.
- Action Wellbeing Coordinator — Has an overview of the above and takes on those roles if needed or finds someone to do so. Holds the team together and connects with other working groups as needed, e.g. with the Actions and Logistics team for daily briefs. Puts together rotas of Action Wellbeing Supporters and First Aiders for specific actions. Potentially co-ordinating with the Rebel Sanctuary.
- It is advisable to have a minimum of 1 WB per 100 people and one buddy pair per 200 depending on the action. Swarming requires more as groups splinter off, and more are needed if there are multiple entrances or roads being blocked or there is a likelihood of kettling.
- It is advisable to have at least 1 FA per 500 people (or more if a high proportion of vulnerable people will turn out or if the action involves higher risks).
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