Alpha This is a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Contributed by
Chayn

Overview

Chayn is a volunteer run project that provides resources for survivors of abuse in multiple countries around the world. There has been an increase in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown, and Chayn wanted to reach people who may feel unsafe at home.

To provide support, Chayn adapted a trauma resilience course they had been planning to run in person. They used Telegram to communicate discreetly with the group, and structured interactions so that people can take part at a time they choose and without having to speak out loud.

Chayn have been gathering feedback and measuring engagement through the use of their resources and activities. They are doing this to understand how effective the course is and are adapting it accordingly.

The Chayn Telegram group shown on a mobile phone

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since March 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Chayn’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a person who has survived abuse, I need emotional support to help me cope and recover.
  • As a person who is living with an abuser, I need to be able to access support when it is safe to do so.
  • As a person who is living with an abuser, I need the support I access to be unobtrusive and private.
  • As a person who has experienced sexual assault, I need to continue accessing emotional support.
  • As a volunteer, I need my privacy to be protected.
  • As a volunteer, I need boundaries to my work.

Software and tools used

Telegram

Telegram is a messaging app which focuses on privacy and security. Chayn uses it to communicate with their trauma support group.

Cost

Free

Considerations

Telegram does not display the names and phone numbers of group members or volunteers.

The application can be set so that it doesn't send notifications.

Messages can be set to self destruct.

Messages have end to end encryption.

Chayn integrated their chat bot into Telegram so that volunteers can communicate with group members from one place and do not have to use their personal phones.

Telegram is not widely used. This means a person can open it only when they know it’s safe to do so. This reduces the risk of an abuser seeing the messages amongst other chats in an app (like in Whatsapp).

Slack

Slack is a communication app for group and 1-1 messages. Chayn’s volunteers use it to communicate with group members and as a team using a chat integration platform - Crisp.

Cost

From £5.25 per month.

Considerations

Slack can integrate with many other productivity applications. Chayn use Crisp to link their Telegram group with Slack.

Integrating with Slack means Chayn volunteers can centrally manage all their communications with group members. They can see and track 1-1 conversations.

Crisp

Crisp is a cross-channel customer support messaging service that acts as a bridge between Telegram and Slack. It allows us to share a chatbot link, which users can click to message Chayn directly on their Telegram app. These messages are then received in a designated Slack channel, where approved volunteers are able to review and respond to messages in Slack, these responses being viewable in private on the user’s Telegram.

Cost

Free for 2 users. €25 for up to 4 users.

Considerations

Crisp allows the user’s messages to stay in Telegram and Chayn’s messages to stay within Slack, meaning they are not directly texting users and sharing volunteer’s contact information.

Recipe steps

1. Design a syllabus

Chayn’s trauma support course is based on Rockpool’s Sexual Violence Recovery toolkit and Woman’s Aid’s The Power to Change manual. Chayn adapted the content to work online and in a shorter time frame and added their own experience to make the content more relevant for a diverse and younger audience. They started by creating an introduction video to explain what the group and support is about.

2. Choose a platform to host the group

Chayn chose Telegram because it is discreet and they could protect volunteer and participant privacy by not showing names or phone numbers.

Because Telegram is unobtrusive, the group members do not get reminders to take part. Chayn is considering running another version of the course on Whatsapp for people who are no longer at risk.

3. Invite participants

The group can be joined from an invite link, which Chayn shared on their website and social media platforms. This link was also shared by several media outlets which featured Chayn in articles on the sector’s response to Covid-19. Some users in the group have also referred new users since launch.

4. Ask questions and have conversations

The trust between group members is an important part of an in-person support group. Chayn wanted to recreate this online, but not everyone would be able to speak freely, or join at the same time. To get around this, they ask a question as a prompt, and group members respond to a bot with their answers. They are then connected with a volunteer for a 1-1 conversation.

They used a survey to understand what situation group members are in: Can they recieve messages? What challenges are they facing? What time of day can they receive messages? By asking for a consensus on timing for new messages, Chayn established a schedule of 6-9pm GMT daily when messages would be sent within the channel, allowing at risk users to prepare for this.

Group members with specific concerns were recommended to reach out via the chatbot to discuss safety plans.

5. Respond and share resources

Chayn volunteers make videos which respond to the answers from group members and offer advice and tools. They also share specific outputs from the lessons with the rest of the group to recreate the feeling of taking this journey with other people e.g sketches of animals, self-care tips and favourite songs. When sharing resources, they make sure the journey for the user is natural and easy to follow. Chayn volunteers and the bot make it clear what group members are supposed to do at each step.

6. Ask for feedback

Chayn run a poll on Telegram at the end of each week and link to a short evaluation form.- Questions included in the evaluation form are: how useful did you find it, what was most useful, and what would you like to know more of.

As well as the feedback questions, they ask the group what else would be useful. As a result, they’ve done some sessions on Instagram live where volunteers answer questions sent in anonymously.

They also send a cat gif to celebrate the week’s achievement and keep people motivated.

7. Measure engagement

Chayn track as much as possible: how many people watch the videos, send messages, fill out feedback form, etc.

8. Hold a weekly review call

The team have a weekly call where they review the feedback from the week and talk about any issues. They use this to check in on individual conversations with people and to set up an evaluation approach and schedule.

  • Tracking individual conversations with people
  • Setting up evaluation schedule
  • Deciding on what prompts to send in between the videos

9. Make improvements

Chayn use the feedback collected with the evaluation as a guide to create the content for the next week.

Guidance

  • When looking at the feedback collected each week, keep in mind that some people will feel worse, because some negative trauma or feelings have been uncovered. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • A remote group like this will never replace intensive support but it is another option.
  • Think about how to increase engagement and commitment to the course. Remind the people who receive the care how much time your team spend creating the content so they value it more.
  • Don’t overthink but don’t compromise on safety. Be open about the fact that it is an experiment with the group but never compromise your client and your team’s safety.
  • Limit the personal information you collect and display.
  • Be open to change, be flexible and be creative.

Risks

Participants could be at risk if an abuser discovers that they are using the group. The choice of Telegram helps to mitigate this risk, as does their decision to collect inputs from group members through text rather than voice calls.

Engagement rate will be lower online than offline. When people meet in person for group support they have a stronger commitment to each other and the facilitators. Chayn collect regular feedback and track engagement to understand what content and formats keep people engaged.

Staff invest a lot of time into writing the content (approx. 40hrs / week) and the risk is people who receive the care don't see the time you’ve spent. Sometimes they take it less seriously then they would if they see you in a physical space.

Points of contact

For further information about this recipe, you can contact:

Hera Hussain
Founder

Thanks

Many thanks to Chayn for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Chayn and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on May 28th, 2020. Last updated June 11th, 2020