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Lean In Lincolnshire marks two years of supporting people experiencing workplace bullying

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Many people have been made to feel uncomfortable at work, but when this turns to manipulative or bullying behaviour, what can be done?

It is often not as simple as reporting it to the boss, as Amanda Schonhut knows.

She found herself the victim of workplace bullying and gaslighting - in which the bully creates a false narrative and makes the abused person question their judgments and what is ‘real’.

Amanda Schonhut. Photo: Amanda Schonhut Photography
Amanda Schonhut. Photo: Amanda Schonhut Photography

In trying to address these issues, she discovered gaps in the support and legislation available. It was by chance she then came across an organisation called Lean In, and, realising its significance, set up a Lincolnshire branch.

“I had been working for a company as a photographer,” explained Amanda, who is now self-employed.

“It’s an American company and on one of the staff newsletters was a link to Lean In. I clicked it and went through to a website where there was information and resources to support people experiencing workplace bullying.

“The timing was bizarre - it was like it was meant to be.”

Amanda received support through Lean In, which is a network rather than a charity, and was founded by Rachel Thomas and the chief operating officer of the social media company Meta, Sheryl Sandberg. Both still play very active roles, attending online meetings and talking to people seeking support.

It is exactly two years since Amanda set up Lean In Lincolnshire, and since then she has not only improved her own life significantly, but has supported huge changes to the lives of others.

“Seeing the transformation in people and knowing you have helped them to get there is so rewarding - it’s a massive boost,” she said.

Without divulging her identity, Amanda described the changes she had seen in a businesswoman in Stamford who had lost confidence because of an abusive relationship, no longer wanted to form relationships with others, and was reticent about developing her business.

“Now she is dating again and is taking steps to branch out in her business,” said Amanda.

Lean In’s key to helping people is through sharing experiences, talking, and finding positive steps through which to move on.

Lean In Lincolnshire is currently helping people in Stamford, where Amanda lives and was recently elected onto the town council, and in Grantham, where she is director of fundraising for the museum.

The network is open to men and women, and can play a particularly supportive role for men.

“Men experience domestic abuse and bullying at work but if they complain they are often told to forget it, or that it’s just banter,” said Amanda.

“It can be more difficult for men to deal with because many find it difficult to show their emotions and, for many men, work defines who they are.”

Lean In Lincolnshire holds monthly meetings by web-video, and people joining can opt to keep their identity private.

“When someone first gets in touch - usually by email - I respond to find out more about their situation and the help they would like,” said Amanda.

“If they need the help of a different organisation, then I can put them in touch, and I can provide details of our meetings and resources.

“Once people start to get to know others in the network, they often switch on their web camera, as they become more confident with the group.”

For more information, visit: www.leanin.org/circles/lean-in-lincolnshire or search ‘Lean In Lincolnshire’ on Facebook.

People can also call Amanda on 07717 159808 or email: leaninlincolnshire@gmail.com

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