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Christian Ethos at the CHAT Trust

The CHAT Trust stands as a witness in the area we serve to the values taught by Christ. Like many agencies and organisations, we work through particular projects and initiatives; we also work in partnership with many of these other bodies. Generally, we do not fund the work ourselves, but rather seek grants that we apply to the tasks we undertake.

The profile of our activities is not unique to us and it does not, of itself, represent the Christian dimension of our existence. It is always important to remember that these projects and initiatives are not the essence of our work. In the words of the song, “it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it.”

We recognise, of course, that the values that we seek to bring to our work are not unknown in the secular sphere. However, unlike other organisations that are task led, we aspire to being value driven. Our values determine both the nature of the work that we undertake and the manner in which it is done.

Ultimately, this is a matter of the quality of the relationships that bind together the people involved in the Trust’s work and those that we create with other organisations.

It should go without saying that we seek to be honest, honourable and above board in all our dealings. This does not entail frivolously sharing every piece of information, indeed it can require a high degree of confidentiality, but we must be and be seen to be straightforward in our discussions and activity.

This is a much more complex area than just saying that we should not tell lies or even that we should not set out to deceive. Often there is information to which people are not entitled to have access. Those participating in early discussions of issues need to feel confident in the confidential nature of those meetings if they are to be candid in their contribution. Not every idea, by any manner of means, will develop into action and there is no worth in causing hurt or insecurity by publishing details of thinking that has hit a dead end.

There is also, often, an appropriate time for information to be released into general circulation – perhaps when other contingent issues have been addressed; and so, although people may be entitled to know things, they may not be entitled to know them now.

Clearly, much of the responsibility for the management of information lies with those who possess it. They need to make proper decisions, based on the good of all concerned rather than their own benefit and private agenda, as to when and how that information is released. A secretive culture can be very destructive, but so equally can one in which things are improperly disclosed.

Those who possess privileged information should, therefore, be supported in their role by the knowledge that they will not be pressed to disclose information by other people in the organisation. There needs to an assumption that people act honourably in this regard and can be trusted always to endeavour to proceed correctly.

Interactions with one another
How we treat one another on a day-to-day basis underpins the ethos of any organisation. The CHAT Trust starts from the premise that every person in the organisation is of equal worth and that our conduct should mirror that conviction.

Obviously, no two relationships can be exactly similar; what passes easily between some people may be unacceptable to others. We do not seek to regulate the interactions between people beyond requiring that we do not cause offence or discomfit.

Clearly, bullying and intimidation are quite unacceptable, but we would wish to see a more positive approach that encourages an obvious mutual respect. This includes acceptance and valuing of the diversity of human character. The people of our organisation should be able to flourish as themselves, playing to their strengths and being appreciated in that light.

In this regard, everyone must acknowledge the role and part that others have to play within the work that we do. We do not encourage the trappings of hierarchy, but those with managerial responsibilities must enjoy the support of other members of the organisation so that they can effectively discharge their role. Equally, the decisions and activities of managers must be implemented in a way that clearly reflects our foundational premise that everyone in the organisation is of equal worth.

There is, however, also a balance to this. Individuals should not unreasonably take offence at the conduct of others, thus provoking unnecessary tensions; this draws again on the need to accept and value the diversity of human nature. Neither should they behave in such a way that requires excessive levels of patience and tolerance of others.

With this principle in the forefront of our intentions we aspire to be as inclusive an organisation as possible. It is a vain ambition to hope that one can at all times be wholly inclusive: the expectations of different people can be mutually incompatible and some are not consonant with our ethos. None-the-less, we hope always to be sensitive to those occasions where some have felt excluded and are committed to ensuring that such occurrences are limited to those that are inevitable. Furthermore, it is a foundational aspect of our organisation that we work to reconcile contrary expectations.

Since we also seek to be an inclusive organisation we should avoid actions and behaviour that can leave people feeling excluded. Private conversations, for example, should be just that and not conducted sotto voce in front of others. “In jokes” should be avoided in contexts where their content and significance cannot be shared with everyone present. A proper concern with  

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