Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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.

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

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!)

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 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 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 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 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.

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.

diddl Germany 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?

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.

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

Good luck, I hope the meeting goes ok

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.

FarBetterNow Tue 28-May-13 22:16:51

Springy, you sound lovely and so do ALL the other posters.
Quite restored my faith in MN.

I hope that whatever you choose to do next will be enjoyable and your efforts will be better appreciated.

Best wishes to you.

springymater Tue 28-May-13 21:50:06

That's a good plan Hello.

Hellohippo Tue 28-May-13 19:22:23

I have ony just seen this, are you able to complain to whoever the psychotherapist is registered with so it's an independent person who investigates?

springymater Tue 28-May-13 19:12:07

Update: it's been a week since all this shit happened but I've been out of it.

I have sent the email to my line manager today, copied to Centre Manager, who has asked to see me this week.

We'll see how it goes. I knew I should have struck while the iron was hot, so to speak, but I just couldn't get it together at all. Ah well, the heat is out of it to a certain extent (heat analogies akimbo)

I loosely used your template, fool - and also your list. Thanks for that - it gave me a structure to work from.

We'll see how it goes.

Lavenderhoney Tue 21-May-13 10:15:15

Food and beverage is F&B.
I hope you get a good response from the trust. You've been treated very badly.

BerylStreep Mon 20-May-13 23:22:27

I would write to the trustees to set out what happened.

No need to subject yourself to post mortems or findings. But they need to know.

I don't think it is dramatic at all to say you felt like you had been assaulted.

springymater Mon 20-May-13 20:55:19

what's F&B ??

I said upthread I didn't want to run a pub, only interested in buying a skanky old pub that's for sale. As things stand, it is £100K less than my current house and I could live in it mortgage free. I wouldn't have to decide what to do with it, I could just live in it - and develop any ideas as and when. So it's an appealing project...

I'm wondering if I would actually be better s/e. My own boss... Obv there are problems with that. I've just posted a thread about my lodger (who is pissing me off) - re being in charge or being an employer is just as potentially troublesome as being an employee - swings and roundabout, I should've thought.

I'm still very disappointed about this job. It seems to be a brutal end and endings like that are hard to process. I'd like to take some control of it somehow!

Lavenderhoney Mon 20-May-13 20:33:21

Thank goodness you are not going back! Great decision. They don't really care about people do they? Best out of it.

I wouldn't advise a pub until you have done some time in a professional kitchen. A b&b might be ok, if you don't mind being there all day and night.

Why don't you do some digging on forums and go and visit some pubs and b&bs to see what owners say?

I would still approach your local F&B places for a role to see if you really think a professional kitchen is for you and have some access to how to cost food and menus. Have a look on caterer.com for jobs in your area.

Or start a private dining dinner company and go to people's houses to cook - depends on what you need financially to survive.

Jux Mon 20-May-13 18:13:11

It's disgusting, and your manger is as bad as all of them.

Springy, I really hope that, whatever you decide to do, you get closure on this.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 20-May-13 14:52:16

Rum lot. That manager probably thinks he's 'covered his back' by giving a half-hearted invitation to take part in the next task. That to me says he knows you have respect of at least some co-workers. I agree with what you said upthread, possibly in the midst of that scene you didn't notice if colleagues walked out and didn't want to be caught up in that charade. Small consolation perhaps but it wasn't a complete lynching. Somehow the men who confronted you thought they had carte blanche to air their grievances in public. The woman leading the exercise could have halted this at any time when she saw you were upset. The two perpetrators obviously had time to think up their tactics and spiel beforehand.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 20-May-13 11:55:22

Good lord! They really are awful and not a good environment for you to expose yourself to. I can see need for closure and a very quick move on to safeguard your own self...

imaginethat Mon 20-May-13 11:38:37

I suspect you will too and I think you would be wise to protect yourself from further attacks by not doing any more meetings. Unless there is a manager that is any good and you took a support person with you? Might help with closure.

springymater Mon 20-May-13 11:38:02

the flashbacks have stopped btw. I hope that's that and I won't be troubled with them anymore.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now