More about being a reverse participant
Overcoming stigma is extremely difficult when you've got no support
Social stigma usually divides people in ways which are persistent and illogical. It can be hard to overcome social stigma if you're not part of a community or network or if you have no support. Sadly, for many people this is a reality in their life as people becoming increasingly divided with fewer and fewer opportunities to participate in real time, face to face social interaction with other people in their local communities. Even when there are opportunities many people won't take them, for fear of being further stigmatized and rejected by others. Most people will go out of their way to avoid unpleasant social encounters especially if they are unnecessary.
The need to raise awareness and challenge the stigma
Social stigma has become more widespread simply because stigmatizing others carries few, if any consequences and people can get away with it. Many people are stigmatized, as well as being unsupported and increasingly isolated and when this happens the social stigma spreads and more people become affected. Additionally the longer this sort of behaviour goes unchallenged the more people become excluded and the less viisble they become. However when people who are stigmatized are supported by others and this becomes known then the stigma is challenged, confronted, and diminishes and this can have a tremendous impact on the lives of those affected. This is why Qultura is setting up this system of reverse participation so that, anyone who is affected by social stigma no longer feels isolated or excluded, but part of a wider network of people working in their own individual ways to raise awareness in others and challenge the stigma.
The equal marker
Social stigma acts as a marker which is closely related to someone's identity. It could be based on their skin colour, a disability they have, their gender identity, or some other natural aspect of their being. These markers indicate vulnerability which can be exploited by other people to create divisions and to stigmatize and exclude. Qultura's reverse participation is designed to be a marker which is equal to the stigma and which negates it. It is therefore a status and is expressed through a unique ID. This unique ID is unique and individual only to one person. It is designed to support attempts to overcome the barriers caused by the stigma so that someone can develop effective strategies to overcome the stigma while getting support from others.
Understanding the application process
The most important single aspect of being a reverse participant is that this is about you the individual human being. This is not about anything like political correctness, this is not an exercise in diversity, you don't become a reverse participant because you have a disability, because you're a different skin colour, or ethnic origin, or your gender identity doesn't conform to the more common gender binary. You become a reverse participant because social stigma or exclusion affects you personally in a way which restricts your access to opportunities and creates barriers in your life.. Our entire mission revolves around you getting as much support and assistance as you need to overcome those barriers and have equal access to opportunities the same as most other people.
Understanding the objective - overcoming the stigma.
When making an application to become a reverse participant you will be asked for an objective. The objective needs to be based on your own personal perception and should be based on the change you feel is necessary to be able to overcome the stigma. What change do you feel you need personally which would make your life meaningful and fulfilling to you? What would make your life experience easier? What would need to happen so that you have the autonomy and freedom to live your life in a way which is comparable to most other people?
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.
Whenever we receive an application for reverse participation what we are looking for is to be able to see the world through your eyes. There are no right or wrong answers, nothing is unacceptable, what we are looking for is how stigma has affected you personally, individually, in your life. You can write as little or as much as you like. As all the information you supply on your application form is strictly confidential (and is never shared with any other person for whatever reason) you can write whatever you like. If it's acceptable to you and something worth expressing, then it's acceptable to us.
How does becoming a reverse participant affect you?
Becoming a reverse participant doesn't change in any way, shape or form the unique and individual human being who you are in reality, nor does it change or affect any relationship you have with Qultura or with anyone else in the Qultura community.
But what it does do is change your status in law and defines you as a potential beneficiary. Currently being affected by social stigma is not seen as a charitable objective which explains why Qultura is not a registered charity. There is no physical basis - abstract or concrete - which can offer a universally recognized set of criteria, such as homelessness, mental illness, poverty, having a disability, which can define someone as a beneficiary of a charity or support organization. The application you make provides that basis because you define the criteria and benefits which you can receive from us and from others.
The difference between a human right and a social privilege
Additionally the marker created by reverse participant status illuminates a human right which has become abused or not respected as a result of social stigma, i.e. the removal or denial of a social privilege. We intend to use reverse participation status, for example, as a counter argument to benefit sanctions where currently the inability to seek or find employment is seen by some as sufficient grounds to deprive someone of access to income through welfare benefits, which is a measure which has been developed directly out of social stgigma.
Can you become a reverse participant?
Anyone can be a reverse participant so long as it doesn't create or cause a conflict of interest or lead to any commercial or profit making activity. You can be a reverse participant with respect to a specific issue, and a participant in other issues. If you are directly involved with Qultura in any way, either as a volunteer, a trustee or a supporter you cannot be a reverse participant.