• Supporting those affected by the misery of stigma and exclusion

Getting support through Qultura

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Quality of life experience

The quality of life experience comes down to one thing - how we get our needs fulfilled. Whether or not we can get our important needs fulfilled, and how, is the biggest single determining factor which influences what we all commonly understand as quality of life experience. If we are not getting our needs fulfilled, how much of this is down to us choosing not to get those needs fulfilled, and how much of it is down to not being able to get those needs fulfilled, say from a lack of opportunity or a lack of support? Another important factor is how we are perceived by others, generally, in our communities and society in general. People judge, they judge each other and they judge themselves and it is often these judgments which can influence such things as access to opportunities, how people generfally perceive usm, how we perceive ourselves, and whether or not our lives are easy or more difficult, and whether they do indeed have any real quality or significance.

Stigma in life experience

Stigma, where it exists, often has a direct relationship to the quality of our life experience and whether or not our lives are easier or more difficult. Someone who has a profound disability or is struggling with a chronic health issue may have a vastly different life experience to someone who is healthy, able-bodied, and considered average or "normal". Likewise people with different skin colours or ethnic backgrounds may have different life experiences, one may be much easier, with a greater access to opportunities and being generally perceived by others differently to someone who has far less access to opportunities and has a much more diffifcult life experience. Where it exists stigma can create numerous barriers and obstacles in people's lives, making their lives much harder through restricting access to opportunities for friendship, housing, employment, education, and even the provision of services and access to goods whether through public service or private enterprise. As we are referring to social stigma, there's not a lot these individuals can do about it, for it would require the changing of the way many people think.

Personal relationships to stigma

How much social stigma can impact on someone's life, making it much more difficult, is usually determined by their own unique and personal relationship to the specific stigma, and whether or not they have developed an effective strategy to overcome the stigma and gain access to opportunities and what is generally perceived as social privilege, i.e. enjoying the privileges of being part of a community or society. The strategy for being able to overcome stigma needs to work in the vast majority of cases so that the effects of the stigma are negated or reduced. These strategies might have been taught in childhood, learned from an intimate relationship or friendship, or come from following examples or advice from others who have been affected by the same type of stigma. Not everybody who is stigmatized by others gets to develop successful strategies, because they either weren't taught to begin with, or they didn't have enough opportunity for whatever reason to develop such strategies.

Getting support - introducing the concept of reverse participation

This is where you can get support from Qultura through what is known as reverse participation. This works on the principle of exchanging life experiences. If the quality of your life experience is impacted by stigma from others, for whatever reason, irrespective of the type of stigma involved, you can become a reverse participant. How it works is quite simple. If you are affected by stigma for whatever reason, you have direct personal experience of that particular stigma, and a greater understanding and insight to how that stigma influences social relationships. It is assumed that your understanding and insight is greater than that of the wider community or population. You participate with Qultura to raise the awareness and understanding of others through your experience of the stigma and in return receive support from Qultura designed to support you so that you can get access to greater opportunities and find ways of overcoming the stigma.

Reverse participation explained

You become a reverse participant by making an application to Qultura which if granted enables you tyo be able to get support through writing appeals. You can become a reverse participant irrespective of who you are and your life circumstances provided that you can demonstrate that you are affected by social stigma from others to the degree where it adversely affects the quality of your life experience, making it more difficult and creating barriers which mean that you have less access to opportunities than other people. The purpose of reverse participation is to negate the stigma through support from others so that the quality of your life experience isn't adversely affected because you are being you.

What are appeals?

An appeal is simply a request for additional support from others to enable you to achieve an objective which is a way or means of overcoming a barrier or difficulty which you are experiencing as a result of being stigmatized by others and not being able to access opportunities yourself independently. Essentially it's a statement that you need support in something and it works rather like a short term charity appeal. You can promote your appeal online through social media, share it with others, put it on a blog, or use it to get access to support from other organizations. Appeals are written by reverse participants and relate specifically to objectives designed to help them overcome barriers caused by social stigma.

How to become a reverse participant and write an appeal?

You can find out what's involved in both becoming a reverse participant and writing appeals from the links on the right (click on the red buttons).