Inclusion & diversity

Outreach Development Officer Rachel Davies with Diversity Consultants Sandhya Dave and Dave Samuels

Our Programme Developer Rachel Davies with Diversity Consultants Sandhya Dave and Dave Samuels

Gaia House is dedicated to fostering a safe and inclusive refuge for all people to explore the practices and teachings of the Buddha. It is important to us to welcome people of every age, ethnicity, cultural heritage and religious background, socio-economic group, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity, and we are actively working to investigate and remove barriers to inclusion.

In this we follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, who offered his teachings of awakening and freedom to everyone without exception, and in doing so challenged the limitations of the social structures and attitudes of his day, such as the rigid caste system and restricted position of women. We believe that everybody benefits when our hearts and our doors are open to all, and so we seek to promote the inclusion and participation of people of diverse identities in all Gaia House’s activities, and we are committed to identifying, understanding, and taking down whatever barriers might prevent this happening.

Access for people with disabilities
It is important to Gaia House to be accessible and inclusive and we welcome people with disabilities. While we have made many adjustments to accommodate everyone, we welcome people with additional needs to let us know if there is anything more we can do to support them.

We have a rambling old house, however the ground floor is mostly accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with restricted mobility. We have an adapted bathroom and ground floor bedroom available. The main meditation hall is accessed via a gentle ramp.

We have a hearing loop facility in the meditation hall which is compatible with hearing aids and we are very happy to provide written information in large print.

In some cases a carer may stay free of charge to support a retreatant who needs personal care/support. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this.

If you have specific needs relating to a disability, long-term illness or health condition please phone our Reception team on 01626 333 613 who will be happy to provide you with more detailed information about the house and discuss your needs whilst on retreat. We are keen to ensure that the retreat environment can be accessible to all.

What’s been implemented to date:

To take this work forward, our Diversity Working Group has recruited people from across the organisation to reflect on our pratices and what changes might be implemented to honour both diversity and equality in developing an inclusive environment.

With the support of specialist consultants, feedback from retreatants and our enthusiastic community, we have made changes to the way we think about diversity, equality and inclusion, as well as practical changes in how we recruit trustees, present ourselves in our communications and what we ask people when booking on retreats. Awarenss training and action planning among staff are now a regular part of their Gaia House calendar.

We understand also the importance of inquiring into views and attitudes held both individually and organisationally which manifest in sometimes very subtle ways, both in terms of how and what we communicate, how we organise ourselves, and what we offer as an organisation. Our work will include finding ways to inquire in this way.

The strongly held intention is that all Gaia House activity will genuinely and actively promote and support a diverse sangha, and we will update on how we are moving forward with this important aspect of our work. This is indeed a journey of learning for Gaia House and so we welcome feedback at any time about how our intention to become more inclusive manifests. To offer feedback or discuss any aspect of this work, please email Devin on director@gaiahouse.co.uk