How to start a group, from one to many…
While a group might be only two people, we would suggest that you need an establishment group of 4-6 people. This might be your whole group, but work on getting at least four people willing to coordinate or share these roles:
One of the most important group resources you will need is a welcome person, a public facing contact. It’s best to have at least two people who are OK to be contacts for the group and have at least their first name and some way to contact them available to share. Some groups operate completely anonymously, but at least one point of contact needs to be public. This person needs to be a good listener with loads of empathy, because people who contact you are likely to need to tell their story.
This person arranges your meetings or communications, keeps track of your stuff (eg. papers, emails, facebook page, passwords, the morning tea roster, donation tin, key contacts) and is good with details.
This person sorts out an agenda (in collaboration with everyone), keeps everyone on track with time and topic, while encouraging sharing and participation.
This person is someone with lots of connections who lets other people know how great you are. You may have many champions, but to start you need at least one. They may not necessarily be part of your group.
All of these roles can be challenging, but there is a lot of assistance available. Talk to other groups, Self Help Queensland, your local community centre or on-line community. It takes time and effort to get a group going, but they can be wonderful. If you are thinking about doing all these roles yourself… Stop! Reality Check! Ask for help!
While you are working in this beginning phase, we would encourage you to:
- Meet in a public place, such as a library or community centre
- Think about group rules, there are many simple templates available to start
- Think about who your group members will be and why they would come
- Have a mentor, someone who can be a sounding board for your ideas
- Explore operating under auspice (where a community organisation or charity extends their legal umbrella above your group).