Report from the 2023 gathering
A report of the proceedings of the Autumn Gathering and Visioning at Dovedale 27th - 31st October 2023
Forty ECC'ers enjoyed the stunning South Peak District countryside and the shabby chic of Dovedale House over the long weekend (even more once we located the central heating controls!). We enjoyed a lively Halloween-themed soirée, some mixed weather, David Wray's wonderful cooking, all mixed in with base groups, some interesting workshops, and pleasant social time. But we were also there for the more serious work of the annual Autumn Gathering and on this occasion, a Visioning where to look at the future direction of ECC in more depth.
At times this was a fairly exhausting, challenging process, and it was certainly not all smooth sailing. It is fair to say that we had to navigate through some fairly dark and dense forest before finally arriving in a place where we could see some clear blue sky ... and some important decisions were then summarised and reached about the future direction of the ECC, in both the short term and the long term.
Headline points to come out of the AG/Visioning
Where ECC is now
- ECC is seen as being an enriching environment that provides members with company, mutual support, and the opportunity for new experiences and personal growth within a safe space.
- However there is an issue that demand for places on retreats is currently outstripping supply, as well as issues around a lack of a unique USP for ECC, accessibility for members with disabilities, and also around a lack of diversity.
- ECC is also facing challenges in the context of new thinking and perspectives in a rapidly changing world both socially and politically that differ quite radically from the 1980s when the ECC came into existence.
- We also face challenges in terms of whether we are keeping pace with the changing legal environment and statutory requirements, particularly in regards to our safeguarding responsibilities and the Equality Act.
In light of all of the above the following action points were agreed:
- To work towards actively encouraging and supporting more volunteers to step forward to organise events. Also to ensure that events happen within the context of the ECC Event guidelines.
- To increase the supply of events, and to seek to have a wider range and supply of venues…particularly in regards to working towards having an increasing majority of venues that are more accessible.
- To look into issues around safeguarding, in particular around initiating a specific safeguarding policy. With this in mind a safeguarding working group is being established and Jeremy Bedford was appointed as a task holder.
- To work more closely with disabled ECC members to look into disability accessibility issues around ECC venues. In particular to write to YHA High Close to ask if they can find the funding for a ground floor accessible shower room.
- It was also agreed that we need to look at our website, to have a more diverse cross section of people on the website, and also to look into how the ECC promotes and interfaces with the wider LGBT community.
Staying the same
- ECC will continue to be an organisation for “Men who love Men”.
- The covid protocols for events will remain the same, as the best means currently to protect members, particularly those who are vulnerable. ECC will however supply and pay for tests, so as members, particularly those facing financial difficulties, are not left out of pocket.
- The events booking system will remain the same, despite some concerns about how it currently operates.
Maintenance Group and Taskholders
Mike Kaye, Shaun Kent, Rob Parker were all re-elected to the Maintance Group.
Duncan Weaver was re-elected website and archivist taskholder, Dave Edwards was re-elected as social media and contacts database taskholder.
Jeremy Bedford was elected as a new taskholder, specifically around diversity and safeguarding.