• Supporting those affected by the misery of stigma and exclusion

The stigma involved in social exclusion

Social exclusion is a social issue which generally comes with a lot of stigma attached to it. While human beings are social in nature, we are naturally predisposed to avoiding conflict and people generally do what they can to avoid experiences and things which are unpleasant. Social exclusion is in itself a highly individual experience, so much so that we have yet to come across two instances which are in any way alike. However there are common factors and stigma is one of the most common factors in social exclusion. This can affect people in different ways.

Generally hardly anybody will admit to being socially excluded and this is for various reasons. They have experienced unpleasant or negative social encounters in the past and usually when someone has been discriminated against or judged they are left feeling vulnerable. This causes them to put up emotional and psychological barriers, develop avoidance or defence strategies, and do what they can to 'put a mask' on their actual feelings or circumstances which in turn creates a barrier between them and other people.

Another issue which stigma creates is related to trust and confidence. Many people affected by social exclusion feel that they have been let down by others, have felt unsupported, they may have been subjected to abuse in the past, whether in childhood or their adult lives, they may even have been the abuser or have abused themselves or they may have been deceived or misled. This situation is not helped by charities and support services employing conditionality as part of their service delivery where the provision of support is conditional to the person receiving the support meeting certain conditions. This can result in people affected by social exclusion and very clearly needing support taking measures to avoid reaching out for that support and thus they remain socially excluded.

This has been a persistent issue for Qultura and this is why, despite the fact that we are a charitable organization set up to support people affected by social exclusion and social stigma, we have restructured our organization to diminish any division between service user and service provider and behave much more like a community cultural organization. We don't care why someone is socially excluded, or how they want to live their lives, all we are concerned about is that they have access to the support and assistance they need without feeling judged or uncomfortable doing so.