I was blown away by this venue, and the generosity of many of the people, the charity and political work, and not in the least the eccentric art. However what I welcomed most, was what I thought was the cafe’s approach towards: ‘tolerant inclusiveness and fairness!’
Therefore all the more the gross injustice for the Forest Cafe to ban me because I challenged politely although forthrightly… a person who happened to be a member of staff, in respect of having my phone stolen!
This member of staff, who has since left… was acting very suspiciously on the evening in question, and had since been continuously “inconsistent” in respects of what ‘he’ had said happened at the time.
There was also a stark lack of consistency in his promised efforts to agree to a meeting with me, and try to resolve this? In fact at one point, even asking myself if he could attend a meeting with an intermediary body who work on behalf of the cafe Safer Spaces… a point I nervously agreed with, as I also thought this was the best course of action, and I wished to be fair with him, even if he had not always been with me.
In the event he did not turn up to the meeting, which he then went on to bizarrely or ‘conveniently’ blame myself for… as being another reason as to why I am the one who is a disruptive influence; rather than this person facing the truth, which is his behaviour.
In similar circumstance, I would have understood and respected someone who challenged myself… not in the least because I have nothing to hide, and actually would ‘expect’ and respect anyone to do the same if they had the same concerns about myself… taking an item of their valuables?
However, instead of listening openly to each side, and arbitrate fairly… I was just told to leave by a manager who stepped in at the time, and I feel out of favouritism of who they knew... rather than seeking to do the right thing by the cafe and myself!
Yet, still even years later… this injustice has not been addressed?
To add insult to injury… this ban did not happen over night, but degenerated over a lengthy period of time: arising from a series of untruths, indecisions and myself being dismissed and fobbed off on behalf of the cafe. Not in the least, unfortunately by those members of staff who out of a sense of misplaced loyalty to this person, having at times intentionally misinterpreted my honest desire to resolve the situation.
“Our first loyalty, if we are to be characters of sound judgement… should be to the truth!”
There have been various reasons or rather ‘excuses’ given, but that is precisely what these are… excuses!
It is not strength to abide by a decision, which is unfair and unjust, and to perpetuate a poor mistake absolutely serves no one… not just the person who was on the brunt end of this injustice, but actually the Forest Cafe itself!
Far better… to take this as an opportunity for positive change, and make instead the ‘right’ decision, our own decision, and seek to reverse this gross unfairness and lift this ban?
And I would feel the same… if this situation had happened to anyone including the people and staff at the Forest Cafe, and would equally seek to correct any wrongdoing! This is not about being selfish, but looking at the big picture to the world we all in reality wish to live in. I believe the Forest Cafe, and staff there should seek the courage in truth to do the same, and treat myself as they would wish to be treat? This is true courage, there is no courage in not treating someone fairly and with respect, and refusing to face a problem!
The Forest Cafe is grounded in an ethical ethos, but I do not see this in the way I have been dealt with, and their unwillingness to deal in equal measure the values of fairness and truth.
Once more in respect of the values they speak of and the cafe has a poster on their window, which says precisely this, “Challenge Diversity!”
However with this situation the management at the Forest Cafe has not welcomed the difference, diversity… of an alternative opinion, but has seeked to repress this.
If the Forest Cafe is not prepared to deal with the difficult situations, and fight equally for fairness… then it diminishes the very purpose of the cafe!
If the people who visit the cafe cannot be sure that they will be treat fairly, that the staff will not take sides if a problem arises, close ranks and favour their fellow staff… then how can the community and its customers have trust in the cafe? Where does the Forest stand in the community, if we cannot even trust that the Forest… if a similar incident were to arise – will they not treat others as they have treat myself?
There are ‘some’ people at this centre for the community, who are not reflecting the best of the best values of the cafe! If they cannot live up to the values of the Forest and be consistent in this… then I believe they should be asked to no longer participate, and make way for those who do sincerely have the best interests of the Forest at heart?
I followed through on this protest, not just because this should “never” have happened in the first place and I also admittedly due to the fact I did enjoy going to the Forest, but because of the principle!
The Forest Cafe should uphold its own ‘Principles’ which it is so far failing to do.
The issues arising are:
1) The Forest Cafe must stand by its values and treat those who visit with fairness and a sense of justice… in a manner “they” would wish to be treat. Not behave like some narrow clique that is only for the popular people, which makes a mockery of the poster in their window, which speaks of ‘challenging diversity!’
2) Treating people fairly: If someone is upset on the night, taking this into account in respect of their actions and offering compassion and understanding.
3) Treating people with balance in mind? It is clear that some staff members have “blindly” gone along with a poor unjust decision… taking precedent over my own rights to be heard.
*This should not be the case… a person should be treat with the same rights to fairness and justice ‘regardless’ of their position or who they know! This is a very basic tenet of human rights!!!
4) Ensure things are not stolen at the cafe, providing a Safe Space for everyone involved in the cafe?
The inconsistency continued, when later this person who later became a manager for the Forest before leaving, said, ‘he helped me look for the phone on the night this was stolen.’ This certainly was not true, as has been the situation with ‘many’ of the various things he has said.
Another “false” accusation levelled at me… rather than the Forest Cafe managers’ having their courage to fight for the truth and seek a fair solution, is that my peaceful protesting is inconvenient or harassing. The truth should never be merely an inconvenience… many of our basic rights were attained by the right to protest:
The fact is after I had my phone stolen, I had left this situation initially for nearly an entire year as I was too preoccupied with being homeless… still at this time I was not told this was a ban! I only became aware of this when I tried to return a “significant” time later, despite having left contact with the Forest Cafe for nearly an entire year at one point. This unfortunately speaks of a community cafe, not wishing to deal with the situation, and behaving in a discriminate and abjectly unfair manner.
Nonetheless, I was and am prepared to “forgive… but not forget” because if we forget… then we risk losing the lessons on ‘both’ sides, which can be learnt from this? However, even this attempt at a positive compromise has not been as things presently stand, enough for the cafe.
*** Sorry Forest Cafe, but something untoward happened that night some years ago, which led in part to two years of homelessness for myself, due to important housing contacts being on that phone. For this then to lead to a ban… shows a terribly lack of compassion and understanding.
And if the Forest cannot even stand for these intrinsic principles of compassion, fairness, and justice; then what precisely does it stand for?
Pretending that this is just some minor oversight, or worse that this is entirely my own fault… does the cafe and myself a serious disservice!
Does the Forest then on top of all this… wish to compound these gross injustices by in effect standing by this theft, which it is in effect doing when… it unjustly upholds this ban?
It is not myself who is failing to uphold the values of the Forest. I’ve tried to be fair and just… in all my dealings with the cafe, which on too many occasions is not the way I have been dealt in return by some staff.
The community cafe, has been unwilling to overturn what I see as a huge injustice, and I believe your own customers would… if they knew the truth, wish for the Forest Cafe to make amends!
Someone, has to fight for the ‘true’ values of the Forest Cafe…?
This is not right, and I for one, and I know your customers feel the same… would rightly expect and believe the Forest Cafe to be better than this!
If you were being honest with yourselves about the ‘facts’ of the incident, and what has taken place since… yourselves at the Cafe would also see this as unjust?
I ask that you look to your own conscience please, and be honest as to how you would feel if you had your phone taken under suspicious circumstances, then was banned from the place where you loved to go, simply because you had the courage to raise your voice and speak out?
Particularly, when this is entirely what the Forest Cafe is supposed to stand for!
Also for this then for this to contribute towards 2 years homelessness…?
And… to put a falsehood to bed, it is myself who has offered to forgive and move on with this; so far it is the management at the Forest who are refusing to do so, by unjustly maintaining the ban!
The Forest is not just a cafe, it represents a set of the highest values, which must be maintained and respected for customers, staff and management alike!
Therefore I request that the Forest Cafe truly represent and stand by its own beliefs… respect the diversity, which you yourselves say the cafe espouses, and therefore have the courage to correct this severe injustice…?
A person having their phone stolen from the cafe, and then being banned due to challenging politely a member of staff in respect of this, which as I said led to a stint of two years homelessness… this is not what the cafe must represent! The staff at the cafe then going onto to compound this injustice… by repeatedly refusing to make amends, forgive, move on and overturn this gross injustice of a ban, does the true values of the cafe a great injustice!
The Forest Cafe deserves the best from those who say they speak for the cafe and its customers, and frankly… if the managers are not representing the best interests of the cafe, they need to have a change of heart, or move on themselves?
This is far from I believe representing the best of the Forest… I think if the people and staff care for the cafe and its integrity with the same passion I do myself, then we will be able find a solution that remains true to the spirit of this very special venue!