Providing support and promoting respect for everyone with a visible difference

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Peer Group Chat guidelines

This page outlines how we expect you to behave when taking part in our Peer Group Chat sessions and what you can expect from the facilitators.

Our Peer Group Chat service is a safe, supportive, and friendly space for people with a visible difference or disfigurement. We have put together a set of guidelines to help with this, which we ask all group members to read before taking part.

Guidelines for all groups

Our groups run alternately on Chatwee and Zoom. The guidance below is for everyone. Please make sure you also read the relevant platform-specific guidance below.

Be punctual

Please try to join the group at the designated time so we can start and finish on time (we recommend logging in five minutes before). If you are more than 15 minutes late, we may not be able to allow you to join the group. We understand that circumstances may arise that might make this difficult, such as technical problems. If you experience issues logging in, please email [email protected] as soon as possible to let us know.

Be respectful and kind

We expect you to be honest, respectful and contribute in the spirit of supporting and learning from other users. Nothing you communicate in the group should ever be abusive, derogatory, sexually explicit or suggestive, malicious or deliberately misleading. We explain this further under the role of the facilitators.

If someone says something that you find confusing,  it is okay to ask them in person what they mean and give them the chance to explain a little more. This is particularly important if you have chosen a Chatwee session – words can sound harsher in the online world and sometimes it’s hard to type what we actually feel.

Think about the information that you share

  • Share information from your own personal experience. You can talk about other people in your life, but please be considerate and responsible about what you share in the group.
  • Do not reveal personal contact details. To protect your anonymity please do not share information that can identify you such as where you live, your phone number, email or your social media accounts. If you are talking about someone else, please do not share their personal information.
  • Be mindful of what you share. This is a space for you to be open and honest about your experiences, but some things may be triggering to others in the group. Please avoid sharing detailed descriptions of self-harm, trauma, or any plans or ways to hurt yourself. It’s okay to talk about how you are feeling, but Changing Faces does not provide crisis support and it is not the right space to share current crisis feelings. See the support available if you need urgent help or are in crisis.
  • Remember that group discussions are confidential. Please don’t repeat what others share outside of the group. Changing Faces takes your privacy very seriously and all information you share is kept confidentially within our organisation. The only exception to this is where we consider there is a risk to yourself or someone else, including children. In this instance, as part of our duty of care, we would contact the relevant professional body. If we believe it might be necessary to breach your confidentiality, we will discuss this with you where possible.

Follow the topic being discussed

Try not to ‘interrupt’ or change the subject while a conversation is flowing, even if something unrelated to the current conversation pops into your head. Much like you would in a face-to-face conversation, try to wait for a suitable moment or raise your hand to indicate you have something else to say once the current conversation is finished. The facilitators will direct the conversation to you when they can.

Avoid making assumptions about others and their experiences

Some differences can be very visible or prominent, whereas others may be less noticeable. We know that the visibility or severity of a person’s scar, mark or condition does not always match the distress or unhappiness they may feel about their visible difference.

Communicate with the facilitators

If you need to take a break at any point during the group or you’re struggling with anything being discussed, please private message one of the facilitators. For Zoom, you can do this using the drop-down menu in the chat box.

Please also keep your mobile at hand in case of an emergency where we may need to contact you via phone.

Be careful not to assume the role of health or other professionals

Your experiences are valuable to the group and can be helpful to individuals. However please avoid giving medical and treatment advice or recommending anything, although it is fine to share about any treatment you have had and how it worked for you.

Platform-specific guidance

For Chatwe

  • Be patient and inclusive. We all have different typing speeds and some members may find it easier to take part than others. It is important that no one feels left out or gets lost in the chat. Please try not to type too many messages at once and be aware when other people are typing.

For Zoom

  • Be mindful of noise and distractions. If noises are coming from your household, such as a dog barking, it may be helpful to mute yourself while this is occurring, as background noises can be distracting to others speaking. You can control your own audio by muting and unmuting yourself.
  • Take steps to maintain confidentiality. If you are able to, please find a confidential space, such as an enclosed room, where you cannot be overheard by anyone in your household. If possible, we recommend wearing headphones.

The role of the facilitators

Each group is facilitated by two members of staff. Their role is to oversee the group and to make sure that everyone is sticking to the guidelines, so it remains a safe and supportive space. If someone says or does anything that goes against the group guidelines the facilitator will send them a private message to let the person know. Group members that are unable to stick to this agreement and repeatedly go against the guidelines may be asked to leave or if necessary, removed from the group. This would be discussed with the individual.

If you are unhappy about anything that happens during the session or if anything makes you feel uncomfortable – please tell us about it. You can send a private message to the facilitator or you can email [email protected].

We hope that your experience participating in the Peer Group Chat will be positive. To continue to shape our service, we will ask for feedback at various points and would greatly appreciate your thoughts.