More than 100 VOYAGERS members have signed up to VOYAGERS Cabins, our peer-support groups of 4-8 people who meet in confidence for two hours each month to share their challenges in an intimate, private, non-judgmental context. They’re video meetings for now, but most Cabins are organised by location, to allow in-person meetings in due course. There is no cost to be a Cabin participant: we ask only that you commit time reliably, and that you respect your Cabin-mates’ confidences.
What is a VOYAGERS Cabin?
A completely confidential, trusting space for members to share, learn from each other, exchange ideas and explore personal challenges and opportunities. Participation is intended to enrich your personal, family and business life; to provide non-judgmental peer support; to help you develop personally and as a leader; to make tough times a bit more fun and tolerable. If a member needs guidance or support, is facing a personal or family difficulty, or has a business challenge, others can help by sharing their own experiences.
What it’s not
A networking group.
Just a bit of fun. (It should be fun, of course, but aspires to meaningful emotional growth and peer support.)
An example of how it might help
When you are facing a difficult decision, the CABIN can help you understand your motivations, your strengths, how to understand the opportunities ahead of you. It won’t judge, but it will help you see your challenge objectively and through the prism of experience.
Qualities you need to bring
Honesty; trust; respect; kindness; humility; a willingness to share; a curiosity and self-curiosity; an openness to taking small risks; a belief in personal growth; a patient ability to listen and, when asked, to offer feedback.
Attendance: Meetings are scheduled monthly apart from August and December. A group should schedule times six months in advance. You commit to attend each meeting punctually and to re-arrange any other calendar commitments that may conflict. A member who misses two meetings in a year will face a majority vote by CABIN members on whether they remain in the CABIN.
Confidentiality: Anything shared in a CABIN stays in a CABIN.
Respect: CABINS may be diverse in all sorts of ways, not least the viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds of members. Be tolerant and treat others as you would want to be treated. Don’t make another member uncomfortable.
The formal structure
Meetings take place once a month, at a time agreed by members.
A meeting lasts two hours.
Each CABIN meeting nominates a MODERATOR and a TIME-KEEPER, both of whom are full participants in the meeting. The roles will rotate over time.
The time-keeper’s role is to ensure it smoothly follows the structure below.
Meetings can take place in person or by video conference (with cameras switched on). Any expenses for an in-person meeting, such as for refreshments, are equally shared among the group. There is no rule about where in-person meetings should take place; seating arrangements should allow every member to make eye contact with every other member.
The moderator’s role
The moderator’s role is to manage the session, to promote open communication, to ensure all members are heard, to put CABIN members at their ease, and to bring continuity to the conversation. You are creating a safe haven for confidential self-expression, and you serve as a role model for members. The moderator serves a practical role but also a role that empowers the group emotionally, taking the lead in enabling the group to be open, vulnerable and self-curious. The moderator works to restrain their own ego and to avoid leading the group to a conclusion of their own. You ensure that no member dominates the conversation; that tensions and problems aren’t skipped over but examined at a deeper level; that the more introverted members are included in the conversation; that the group confronts conflict when it arises. It’s a tough and sensitive yet crucial role.
What defines a successful CABIN meeting?
It remains confidential.
Members are committed.
It keeps to structure.
All members feel they have been heard.
An atmosphere of honesty and trust has been established.
The structure of a meeting
A meeting has four key parts:
1: The opening
2: The updates
3: The deep dives
4: The closing
1: The opening [15 minutes]
The moderator welcomes members and reminds the group of the core rules:
•Nothing shared in the meeting must leave the meeting. Not now, not ever.
•Devices and notifications must be turned off.
•Be physically and mentally present.
•Listen, don’t judge, ask questions, share relevant experiences.
•The moderator clarifies the structure of the meeting. [2 minutes]
The moderator asks each member in turn to share, in 30 seconds or less, how they are and if anything is making participation today difficult for them. [4 minutes]
As an icebreaker, some sort of group exercise or game that has been prepared in advance, is useful. [8 minutes]
2: The updates [45 minutes]
Five minutes of quiet preparation, then 5-10 minutes per person (timed):
Highlights and lowlights of the past month, and what you’re most and least looking forward to next month in a) work b) personal life c) family life.
Focus on your feelings and the aspects that you feel have the deepest impact for you.
The CABIN listens without interrupting.
Short break [5 minutes]
3: The deep dives [45 minutes]
Based on the most urgent or significant issues raised in the updates, two or three members in turn dive deeper into an issue affecting them. They speak, the group asks questions, the group offers personal experiences (but not direct advice), the presenting member closes with any conclusions.
The structure for a deep dive:
•Frame the exploration: The person presenting explains the issue and the feelings around it for them.
•Group self-curiosity: The group shares freely their emotional response, ie feelings and memories. “When you shared xxx, I felt [emotion] and thought of [memory or experience].”
•People share personal experiences relevant to the issue being discussed.
•The person presenting draws a conclusion based on what has been said.
4: The closing [10 minutes]
The moderator invites any further questions and shared experiences.
The moderator asks the group: what worked, what didn’t work, how can we improve this?
The moderator confirms timings for the next session, repeats the need for confidentiality, and closes the meeting.