Our new Inclusivity Coordinator

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CNCC

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At our committee meeting in October 2023, we discussed ways the CNCC could support and promote greater inclusivity, both within our organisation, and northern caving more widely.

This was partially prompted by feedback that some of the information on our website, particularly some of the text aimed at those who are relatively new to caving, was challenging to interpret by those who are not already familiar with the caving world, are neurodivergent or have a learning disability.

At our January meeting, we were delighted to welcome on board Josh White as our new Inclusivity Coordinator.

Josh is well positioned to take on this role. His day job is as a tutor at a residential activity centre which aims to get disabled or disadvantaged people into the outdoors. He is also a former BCA Youth Development Officer.

We have no idea, at this stage, what is going to evolve from this role. This is new territory for us, but we look forward to seeing what comes, and we hope this will be a useful learning experience for many of us. In particular, Josh is keen to hear from anyone who would like to be part of a team to help bring skills and experience, or anyone who has an inclusivity matter that has been bugging them.

More details and Josh's contact information here:

https://cncc.org.uk/article/meet-our-inclusivity-coordinator-20240129
 

JoshW

Well-known member
Hi All, glad to be ‘in role’, and looking forwards to starting to make a real difference in my local caving region.

Feel free to reach out to me on here as well as the email above if you need me, or on most social media as @joshwhite992
 

Samouse1

Active member
This isn't a joke, is it?
Why would it be? Making caving a more inclusive sport is a very positive pursuit, and assigning someone to make sure that we aren’t missing anyone or unintentionally excluding people is very progressive, all round a good idea.

I for one am very happy to see someone as competent and experienced in similar things as Josh in the role, I have faith that he will do an absolutely amazing job!
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Anyone and everyone has always been able to get into caving. There's never been any barriers stopping people from becoming involved. However, caving is definitely elitist purely because of the physical rigours involved but you've got a mountain to climb if the plan is to actually modify all the popular caves so they're do-able for a wider audience (many recent threads about fixed aids and safety prove that perfectly; the rank hostility towards proponents wishing to take the deathiness out, for example).

The main type of people who are definitely intentionally excluded by the UK caving scene are those who work with groups. If the role of the Inclusivity Coordinator is to dial back the anti-professional stance within our sport then I'm all for it. Is it?
 
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Samouse1

Active member
Anyone and everyone has always been able to get into caving. There's never been any barriers stopping people from becoming involved.
Maybe not to you, but there are definitely people who have been excluded in the past.

A lot of clubs didn’t allow female members for a long time, to the point that the first female members of some dales clubs are still alive and caving!

LGBTQ cavers will have felt excluded and been scared of being themselves due to attitudes expressed by others in the caving community. Acceptance of this has been fought for in wider society, and as weird as we may be, cavers are still part of that wider society, so it stands to reason that similar attitudes will still have been present in the caving world.

Bendrigg (who are paid instructors I might add) is doing wonderful things for disabled people and giving them access to caving. Sure, there are caves that aren’t accessible to them, but not every cave needs to be accessible for everyone.

Just because you didn’t have hurdles to get into caving doesn’t mean that everyone has the same path as you. An accessibility officer will listen to someone who says “I struggle to get into caving because of X Y Z”, which may be things that no one has thought about because it hasn’t been a problem for anyone before. They will then take that to heart rather than brush it off, and do something about it.

Why are you against having a role dedicated to helping people get into caving who otherwise might not?
 

JoshW

Well-known member
Hi Chris,

I’m not entirely surprised to see you averse to this.

My theory (with potentially little data to back it up) is whilst caving as an activity is fairly fixed in terms of accessibility for disabilities and is as open as possible for those from other minorities, the culture and facilities around caving could definitely be improved.

For example, how often do you hear phrases like ‘bender, queer’ etc used around huts. I have a worrying amount, if I was non-hetero, I’d probably struggle to feel at home in this environment.

As another example, how many clubs don’t have plug sockets near beds preventing the ability to plug in vibrating pillows (for hearing impaired people to be alerted by fire alarms). In my experience, plenty.

As a final example, how many instructors do you hear of (bearing in mind instructors have the opportunity to introduce many times more people into the sport than any recreational caver) that take an anti-inclusive stance. This would probably prevent me wanting to get involved in the sport even if I’d had an amazing day out in wookey hole my local show cave.

Finally inclusivity means inclusivity, it doesn’t mean including some by excluding others. I’m not proposing we say so that we can get someone with cerebral palsy into caving, people who were already caving, can’t any more!

The role itself, is somewhat flexible at the moment, and I’m not sure exactly what direction it’ll head in. But I’m looking to recruit a team, and if you think you’ve got something constructive to bring to the party please do reach out and I can bring you into the group.
 

David Rose

Active member
For years now it's been said that the number of cavers is diminishing. I remember the 1980s, when the coaches carrying university students on freshers' trips would clog up the centre of places such as Ingleton. I believe Rostam Namaghi has some data that back this up, suggesting there has been a significant fall.

Promoting inclusivity isn't (as I suspect one or two commenters here may be implying) some kind of lefty, performative virtue-signalling. In my opinion, it's the right thing to do. But beyond that, it's a strategy for caving's survival. Assuming we want future generations to carry on exploring and stewarding the wonders that lie beneath our feet, we should be casting the recruitment net as widely as possible, and making those attracted by caving feel welcome, irrespective of their backgrounds.
 

topcat

Active member
The biggest barrier for women is the state of the hut toilets.
I'm a member of four caving clubs, only one of them has toilets reasonably clean ( because they pay for professional cleaners).
Why do old guys think it is ok to piss all over the seat then just walk away?
 

cap n chris

Well-known member
Why are you against having a role dedicated to helping people get into caving who otherwise might not?
I'm not. Helping people get into caving who otherwise might not has been my livelihood for more than twenty years. Hence my comment that the exclusivity which exists is directed against the very people who represent in large measure the future of caving.
 

Samouse1

Active member
This isn't a joke, is it?
Here is where you wrote something that made you look averse to it….

I'm not. Helping people get into caving who otherwise might not has been my livelihood for more than twenty years. Hence my comment that the exclusivity which exists is directed against the very people who represent in large measure the future of caving.
Maybe you should advocate that the CSCC has an inclusivity officer then
 

hannahb

Active member
Anyone and everyone has always been able to get into caving. There's never been any barriers stopping people from becoming involved.
Is this a joke?

As for the rest of what you say, it seems to me that Josh is not proposing to modify caves to make them accessible to all. Based on other threads that seems to be what you would like, but I don't think it's what he's suggesting. Could you just stop stirring, for once, when people are trying to do something good?
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
I'm not. Helping people get into caving who otherwise might not has been my livelihood for more than twenty years. Hence my comment that the exclusivity which exists is directed against the very people who represent in large measure the future of caving.

Just as a matter of interest, can you clarify what you are excluded from, and by whom? The "UK caving scene", as an expression in this context, is a little vague.
 

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Personally I am very warey of this drive to inclusivity. TV is rife with it in drama and adverts and many big companies have to employ Inclusivity and Diversity officers on big salaries to rubber stamp all executive descisions thus slowing the whole process. I would prefer a mentoring scheme within the club system thus encouraging folk to join in the first place. Caving can be a hazardous pursuit ( as defined by some personal insurances ) and cannot be open to everyone without making caving easier and safer. Ie more fixed aids.
 

Fjell

Well-known member
The biggest barrier for women is the state of the hut toilets.
I'm a member of four caving clubs, only one of them has toilets reasonably clean ( because they pay for professional cleaners).
Why do old guys think it is ok to piss all over the seat then just walk away?
My wife hasn’t stayed in a club hut for 30 years. The only decent one was the YSS. Others featured men walking round largely naked in Nazi caps. Maybe things have improved?

I seriously wouldn’t bother trying to “change” people, I can’t imagine a group you are more likely to get a bad reaction from being told what to do or think. It won’t help. If you want to use clubs then pick the ones that volunteer enthusiastically. This happens in other sports, some declare a strong interest in youth development, others just don’t. Back in the day there was a serious split between older clubs and students - the latter went off and did their own thing and most never bothered with clubs ever again. I just wanted to go caving, not engage in hytte liv.
 
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