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awful experience at work

(112 Posts)
springymater Fri 17-May-13 14:25:59

Took part in a volunteer's 'reflective practise' yesterday and two colleagues tore me to shreds. Along the lines of: you are up yourself, think you're wonderful, who do you think you are; that I talk down to people, am lazy, don't do any work, wander about. Those are the accusations I remember, anyway. I don't recognise any of it - I work hard, got my eye on the ball, am generally friendly and chatty in a non-obtrusive way. Ordinary, basically.

This came out of the blue. We work with the homeless and a lot - though not all - of my colleagues are ex-homeless/ex-offenders/recovering addicts etc and the two who laid into me come into these categories.

I have been working with these two men in a reception capacity and relationships were becoming very frosty - not on my part, but theirs. It was becoming increasingly awkward to work with them as I appeared to be frozen out of working practise, let alone conversation. But I didn't particularly notice iyswim! We are very busy and I suppose I assumed in that vague way that people are stressed, tired, whatever. I have a generally good professional sense and have good experience of the professional environment - though this environment is more relaxed in one sense (though more boundaried in others). it is generally a 'friendly' environment - it has to be because of the dire straits/vulnerability of the clients.

The discussion with my colleagues was initiated because I was trying to flag up that I was being left out of working practise - I addressed this by suggesting the issue of team work, are we working as a team. I didn't directly confront but kept it general. A lot of ex-homeless etc find it very difficult to engage with teamwork eg and I wasn't about to be pointing fingers.

I was thoroughly attacked - a character assassination; shouted at (red face/neck, bulging veins), accused of being 'fucking patronising' etc etc. It went on and on - about half an hour. I began to shake (I wish I'd got out then) but kept professional, asked them to clarify, give examples. The examples were bizarre and there was no way I could respond, though I tried. I don't know what has happened to cause this but I do think I've had the 'white, middle-class do-gooder' tag put on me (when, as it happens, the only one of those I am is white - I am, for instance, in recovery). I eventually left as the unremitting assault wasn't abating at all. The situation wasn't resolved, my presence only encouraged them to continue.

the whole experience was horrifying and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I went into shock and burst into floods of tears in a cafe about half an hour later, completely unable to control it. I had a very bad night and cried and cried. I feel beaten up.

I have a bit of clarity today - though still tearful. I spoke to my line manager, saying I wouldn't be working in that capacity again because of a very bad experience in reflective practise. He said reflective practise is confidential and he can't know anything about it, so there is no support there.

So where does that leave me? Is it ok to tear a colleague to shreds under the auspices of 'reflective practise'? The psychotherapist who ran the group basically allowed the thing to continue. She was reluctant to 'let' me leave (though we are all of course free to leave when we want). I felt like a lamb led to the slaughter.

Sorry long sad. Any advice (hand-holding, hugs!) etc gratefully received. I realise the people I work with can have very significant issues - I have a fair few of my own tbf - but I don't accept I can be torn to shreds in this way.

Jux Tue 28-May-13 22:55:38

Hope the meeting goes well.

Buy the pub! Living mortgage free would be a great move. Get the best survey you can though!

Good luck.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Wed 29-May-13 17:54:27

Good luck, I hope the meeting goes ok

springytate Fri 31-May-13 21:15:53

As you have all been so supportive, I thought I'd give you an update about the meeting today -

It went very well indeed! The practice manager is taking it very seriously and unreservedly apologised. He is gathering together my line manager, the ineffectual line manager, him and me to thoroughly go over what has happened.

I asked who the psychotherapist works for and although she is s/e, she has strong links to the therapist who works at the centre. I didn't mention the link between the therapist and the psychotherapist but perhaps my questions about both probably tacitly made the link (?), though I didn't make it at all obvious - I had to know who the psychotherapist is answerable to (thanks for that tip, Hello ).

he gave me the option of either a meeting with him, me and the psychotherapist to go over it, or to make a formal complaint. I feel so strongly that what happened should never have happened and I have chosen the formal route of making a complaint. I have the w/e to officially decide. Perhaps I may, after all, take the option of a 'gathering' over a complaint - so that, frankly, I can let her have it in no uncertain terms. Perhaps I can see how it goes before deciding to make it formal? As I have said, I have been involved in a lot of wrangling in the past (largely through the family courts...) and, if I'm honest, I don't relish a drawn-out process.

thanks again for the support on here - it really helped me to get the horrible thing into perspective.

He was very complimentary about my email, fool smile

Job well done, I say.

diddl Sat 01-Jun-13 08:03:15

I think I'd make a complaint tbh.

It was totally unprofessional.

Are you going to stop volunteering for them?

BerylStreep Sat 01-Jun-13 09:36:53

Springy, I am glad to hear the practice manager has taken it seriously. It was awful what happened.

springytate Sat 01-Jun-13 09:48:41

I know this is tiny ie it's 'only' vol. I have to weigh that up. It's not a glittering career at stake here.

Jux Sat 01-Jun-13 13:41:50

I don't think that is relevant, springy. The therapist may not stay there for the rest of her (?) working life, she may move on to somewhere and just continue doing what she's doing and doing badly. If you get away with something once, firstly you're likely to do it again, and secondly, you don't learn or understand that it's wrong. This is what we (try to) do with children and sometimes adults have to be pulled up too.

I'm so glad your meeting went so well.

springytate Sun 02-Jun-13 12:49:54

Yes, but it's a huge sacrifice for me to go through a complaints procedure. That may be selfish, but I do have to protect myself at the moment.

It's a voluntary job. They've got the point. Some orgs are dysfunctional and this looks to be one of them. HOwever, they do a marvellous job on some level - for the clients. Is it my job to lay down on train tracks to bring some things to light?

I apparently don't have the support of my colleagues - save one or two; or the staff, save one or two. It is apparently common knowledge that I am/this is rocking the boat, and a collection of volunteers and staff are 'on my side'. But they're not going to step out imo. I'm not prepared to take the flak for this. I'd rather step away and let them sort out any mess themselves. They may or may not sort it out, I'd rather not be around.

that's where I stand at the mo, anyway.

Jux Mon 03-Jun-13 18:47:39

Springy, I didn't mean to add any pressure. I really think that you should do what's best for you, whether that is formal, informal or just leaving it altogether.

People are aware now, and that may be enough to encourage someone else in the future.

springytate Mon 03-Jun-13 20:57:44

I wasn't having a go Jux! I was grumpy, admittedly; but with the whole blasted thing. Like, too much effort, too much risk. That fucking woman did me over by not doing anything, standing by/back and letting the lions out of the cage. That should never have happened! The practise manager suggested a member of staff attend the sessions in future - at least, eg my situation, there would be someone there to say 'now come on, springy is a hardworker, what are you talking about'. A member of staff there would be undermining for the therapist, I should've thought - I wouldn't like it if I were running a group. Perhaps that's the best I can hope for in the circs. I don't want to take her/them on.

That said, I still haven't told the manager what I want to do! 6s 7s and grumpy tbh.

Jux Tue 04-Jun-13 08:31:00

No, Springy, I think quite a lot of it was me! I haven't worked for a long time and I don't recognise a lot of what goes on in workplaces any more.

Bearing my ignorance in mind though wink - have you got a reference? Maybe you could get a 'To Whom it May Concern' one now, while they're still wondering how far you're going with your complaint. (That would have been reasonable in my day!)

melconsidine Tue 04-Jun-13 10:54:15

Welcome to my world ... that's the reaction I often get from the Witches of Mumsnet LOL

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