You will need
- Scrap paper
- Sticky tape
- Pens or pencils
- Coloured paper
Before you begin
- Make sure you've risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here.
- Prepare tags or stickers for everyone. You could make your own by cutting shapes out of coloured paper or you could use stickers. The tags should be a mix of colours, shapes, patterns, and sizes. For example, you may have a few purple tags but they may be circles, squares, and triangles and square, spotty, and stripy.
- Make sure you’re ready to talk about affinity bias: the unconscious tendency to get along best with others who are like us. You can find more information (and a link to a short talk) at Future Learn. Don’t tell the people taking part in the activity that it’s about affinity bias until you’re ready to put it all together.
- If you want some extra support or information on discussing Black History Month with young people, take a look at Scouts Black History Month information or this article on discussing race and racism with young people.
Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk asses your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:
- Set up a handwashing station that you can use throughout the session.
- Remind everyone to stay at a safe distance when they’re moving around the space.
- Think about how you’ll hand out things like the tags and pens or pencils – it won’t work for everyone to help themselves from one big pile.
The tag game
- The person leading the game should give everyone their own tag. Everyone should stick their tag to their top between their waist and their shoulders.
- Everyone should move around the space and stay at a safe distance from each other.
- After a minute or two, the person leading the game should ask everyone should get into small groups without talking.
- Once the groups have formed, everyone should break apart again and continue to move around the space.
- Everyone should repeat steps three and four so they’ve made three or four different groups without talking.
- Everyone should gather in a large circle at a safe distance from each other. They should chat about how they decided the groups they’d split into and take it in turns to share their thoughts.
- The person leading the activity should ask if anyone looked beyond the tags or if anyone intentionally formed a diverse group with different shapes, colours, patterns and sizes.
The circle of trust
- The person leading the activity should set out some scrap paper and pens in a large circle so each pile of equipment is two metres apart.
- Everyone should choose a spot and sit by the pile of equipment.
- Everyone should write the initials of up to 10 people that they trust the most down the left of their piece of paper. None of their people should be family members.
- The person leading the activity should name a diversity characteristic such as gender, age, race, religion or ethnicity.
- Everyone should put a tick next to the people on their list who share that characteristic with themselves.
- Everyone should repeat steps four and five with other diversity characteristics.
- Everyone should look at their list of people. How many characteristics do they share with their trusted people? Which characteristic did most of their list share? Were there any people on the list who only had one or two ticks?
- Anyone who feels comfortable could share some of their thoughts with everyone else.
Put it all together
- Everyone should think of some ways that people are the same, for example, that they all have bodies, all need energy to keep going, and so on. Everyone should think of some ways that people are different, for example, that they have different backgrounds, likes and dislikes, and dreams and ambitions.
- The person leading the activity should explain that everyone shares a human experience while being unique. At the same time, we’re all more like some people than others.
- Everyone should think back to the first game. How did they split into groups? Some people probably relied on similarities between their tags. Similarly, it’s likely that everyone’s trusted people list was filled with people like them.
- The person leading the activity should explain that affinity bias is the name given to the way that we tend to prefer and trust people who are like us. Everyone should chat about why this might be a problem.
This activity helped to introduce the concept of diversity and affinity bias (one type of unconscious bias). Were people surprised to hear about affinity bias? How did they feel when they looked back on their groups in the tag game and their list of trusted people? What are some of the benefits and challenges of working in groups with people who are similar or different?
Everyone should think about some of the groups they’re part of, for example, a class at school, a sports team, or a friendship group. Are these groups full of people who are similar or different to themselves? Everyone should get into pairs and chat about how they could learn more about diversity in their everyday lives and interactions. People could take it in turns to share their ideas if they want to.