Minutes from the BiCon 2021 Decision Making Plenary

Held online, 22nd August 2021.

1. Welcome, introductions and attendance

Kate (tech-runner) introduced the session and gave the tech briefing.

David (DMP Chair) welcomed everyone to the session and gave a quick introduction to the sli.do voting software by running a test vote.

Attendance: at least 72, the highest count of the votes. There were some attendees who were attending for the DMP only, not the rest of BiCon. This was permitted to allow people who were unwilling or unable to attend the anti-racism training to still attend and vote in the DMP. There were not more than ten people attending in this category.

Votes will be recorded as 'Y: xx, N: yy, A: zz' being 'yes' (xx), 'no' (yy) and 'abstentions' (zz) respectively.

2. Previous minutes

The minutes from the 2019 DMP and the 2020 not-a-DMP were presented and voted on. Note that people who hadn’t attended the DMP in question abstained, which explains the higher-than-usual level of abstentions.

The minutes from the 2019 DMP are here: https://bicon.org.uk/for-attendees/dmp-minutes/minutes-from-the-bicon-2019-decision-making-plenary/.

They were passed Y: 25, N:0, A: 39

The minutes from the 2020 not-a-DMP are here: https://bicon.org.uk/for-attendees/dmp-minutes/notes-from-the-bicon-2020-decision-making-plenary/.

They were passed Y: 22, N: 1, A: 27

3. Anti-racism training for next BiCon

This was proposed as follows:

"For the next in-person BiCon, all attendees must attend anti-racism training or take part in an anti-racist discussion group. As with this year’s training, accessible options for the training must be maintained and if possible added to.

"Separately, the BiCon team for the next in-person BiCon should complete anti-racism training aimed at event organisers."


Training already taken in the past two years will count as the training having been taken for the purposes of booking.

The offering for on-the-day attenders will be different, as it won’t be practical to offer full training of the sort people booking in advance will get.

A vote to confirm that this would apply to attendees who turn up on the day was passed Y: 68, N: 2, A: 2

The motion as a whole was passed Y: 62, N: 2, A: 3

4. Report from BiCon Continuity Ltd

Marsh gave a summary on behalf of BiCon Continuity Ltd. There were relatively few outgoings, as this was a year without an in-person BiCon.

He thanked Elizabeth and Ian who are stepping down this year to make space for new trustee directors. Continuity is withdrawing to core work until it has more volunteer trustee directors, and is actively soliciting volunteers. Interested people should email info@biconcontinuity.org.uk.

He thanked Hessie and Pascal for systems that made the finances easy to pick up.

A representative from BiCamp thanked BiCon Continuity Ltd for their grant to the event.

5. Guidelines changes

The Guidelines have undergone a thorough anti-racism review. Separately, a section has been added on inclusion for Carers or Personal Assistants and the attendees who reply on them for access.

This is a high-level summary of the changes:

  •   Review of wording from an anti-racism perspective and for modern terminology
  •   Expanded statement of intent
  •   Standard review of Guidelines every two years to be passed by a simple majority
  •   Statement of intent to create and maintain a BiCon Organising Support Space (BOSS)
  •   Explicit reference to the Code of Conduct, including how it should be changed
  •   Mention of rules for virtual BiCons
  •   New section specifically listing the responsibilities of organisers and what they should make sure they have in place before presenting as a team
  •   New section on access for Carers and Personal Assistants, and for people who need them
  •   Sections on social class, on chill-out space and general statement of intent on inclusivity of spaces and sessions placed throughout the document, so no longer have individual sections.
  •   Point on national or local groups not being denied space to run sessions no longer included but the statement of intent explicitly welcomes all Bi+ people as organisers.

The new Carers section was worded as follows:

Carers and Personal Assistants (PAs)

Many people who attend BiCon are disabled and need support to be able to attend. This support may be given by friend(s), partner(s), paid professionals, e.g. a PA (Personal Assistant), or a mix of these. In these guidelines we use carer to apply to anyone providing support for a disabled person to access BiCon. Many people come to BiCon both as attendees for themselves and as a carer for their friend, partner or family member.

There should be complementary tickets available for those who attend as a professional carer. Financial support such as complimentary tickets should be available to informal (unpaid) carers on a case by case basis, for example they should be provided in cases where the disabled person would be financially disadvantaged, i.e. if the disabled person has to buy tickets for their unpaid carer(s) as well as their own ticket. Needing carer support should not be a barrier to anyone coming to BiCon. Complementary carer tickets holders must still sign up to the code of conduct/fulfil any other attendance criteria (e.g. anti-racism training/engagement).

If a carer is no longer able to support the disabled attendee for any reason (including illness or the extreme case of being asked to leave because they have breached the code of conduct), the BiCon team will do their best to find alternative support options to enable the disabled person to continue to attend.

Carers in specified group only sessions

Attendees/session leaders should assume that if a carer is accompanying a disabled person in a session that the disabled person needs their assistance during the session and not question them on their care needs.

If a carer is accompanying a disabled person to support them to access a restricted session, to which the person who needs support meets the session criteria but the carer does not, the carer may be present only to provide support. The carer may not participate for themselves but will be there to provide support. That support might include things such as assisting with care, communication needs, translation, mobility and medical needs, being on hand to help, but will not include speaking on someone's behalf in this space.

If a carer is needed but the members of the specified space are uncomfortable with the disabled person’s usual carer because the carer has breached the code of conduct, e.g. the carer has perpetrated microaggressions against members of the specified group, the BiCon team will do their best to find alternative support solutions to allow the disabled person to access the specified space.

The text of the guidelines as discussed and voted on is here.

Eunice explained that their Guidelines review had been specifically looking at them from an anti-racism point of view, but also looked at other aspects of accessibility. The main change compared to the existing guidelines was moving the anti-racism sections from being 'add-ons' to being the foundation of the document. The space itself is expected to be actively anti-racist compared with society in general.

Ora explained that until now, the status of Carers at BiCon was uncertain, especially with respect to restricted spaces where the person needing the carer qualified but the carer didn't. Also, that people needing a carer are often people on low income, so it's important that they should not need to pay for the carer as well as for themselves.

The general tone of the discussion was that in the areas where the Guidelines are not yet perfect, they are still better than the ones we currently have and that we should not let the best be the enemy of the good.

The new Carers section passed Y: 65, N:0, A: 2.

In principle approval of the anti-racism review passed Y: 61, N: 0, A: 4

Adoption of the new Guidelines passed Y: 62, N: 1, A: 4 This has the 75% majority needed to add it to the Guidelines immediately.

To summarise, the new anti-racism Guidelines have been adopted, replacing the current Guidelines. These include the new Carers' section.

6. BiCon 2022

Rowan explained that BiCon Continuity Ltd had two people interested in BiCon 2022. They have a venue, Leeds Beckett, on which a deposit has already been paid, and are currently looking to run a minimal BiCon with whatever volunteers are able to do. However, they explained that if they don’t get more volunteers BiCon 2022 might not happen and this would involve a loss of the £12,000 deposit (as we cancelled having the event there in 2020 months before the lockdown was extended to August) which would come from the surplus.

They are actively soliciting people to be part of a team. Interested people should email info@biconcontinuity.org.uk.

7. Thanks

The chair thanked: Kate for running the tech; Natalie for doing the captions; Rae and Ora for working on the Carers’ section; Eunice, Nims and the anti-racism working group for the Guidelines review; Marsh for presenting on behalf of Continuity; Rowan for soliciting volunteers for BiCon 2022. The meeting thanked the chair.