Anyone with Exp in organizing a support group?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by hearts and roses, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Hi everyone,

    I am in the process of trying to organizing a support group with a couple of other women.

    We're only just starting this and haven't posted publicly as of yet. We need to find a place to hold the weekly meetings and we're having a hard time.

    Can I get some suggestions please? Thanks.
  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Public libraries usually have rooms you can reserve, don't think they charge but may depend on where its located. You could then call it a "book" club if some need to disguise the intent of the group....
  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Thanks - I did check out one library that is centrally located to we three existing members and they don't do weekly meetings, which is what we're looking for. I am going to fill out their application anyway and see what happens. Keeping fingers crossed!

    Thanks. I think I may check the churches in that area as well.
  4. kris

    kris New Member

    <span style='font-size: 14pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #000099"> i was going to suggest that if any of the women are affiliated with-a chuch they may be able to persuade the pastor/ruling committee to donate a room if you do it on a night thay have an exisiting activity going on. it will have to be run past the committee as well as the pastor.

    is it possible that one of the women would donate their den/family room?

    </span> </span> </span>
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    We accessed the place that you can find 4H. Lord what is the Cooperative Extension Agency I think. They let us use their bldg for meetings after work.
  6. Stella Johnson

    Stella Johnson Active Member

    I know there are some that hold meetings at our local community college. Might be a the next best thing to a church.

    I also attended one years ago that was held at a private school after hours and on weekends.

  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Great suggestions everyone. I think we've struck out at the library as they will only allow us once a month and we're looking for weekly. I am hitting the phone book and will contact the churches in the area. We've already asked the nearest hospital and we haven't heard anything yet. I will also contact the local community college in that area as well. I'm so glad I asked! Thanks!
  8. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    JoG, what kind of a support group are you trying to organize? I've thought of a support group because all that is in the Houston area is NORTH Houston or waaaaay west Houston which is too far for those of us in this part of Houston. Let me know how it goes.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You can try, besides libraries, church halls, scout halls, service club rooms, public (government) space - but make sure you ask for some sort of support, like free rent to begin with, at least.

    Just to begin with, why not meet at each other's homes on a rotating basis? It keeps things informal and fairly equitable. As things grow you will have more idea of where you want it to go. Chances are, once you lose the initial rush of, "Wow! I'm finally talking to someone at last, I want to drink in all the information," you may find the need for weekly meetings wears off.

    Support groups also need vital ground rules.

    1) What we talk about in the group, stays in the group. No gossip. Confidentiality rules.

    2) No put-downs, only support.

    3) Allow everyone equal time to talk. Try and limit it to one person talking at a time.
    Warning: when a NEW support group starts, this rule may need to be ignored for a while, or maybe set aside some "everybody can talk at once for a while" time. A support group I helped start once, we spent the first five meetings with total mayhem, everyone talking at everyone but still coming away feeling that we had had a chance to vent and still be heard. Later, we quieted down.

    4) If you have social get-togethers with family, the support group members are NOT allowed to talk 'shop'. The family members are allowed if they choose to. Or not. This can be a very interesting thing to try.

    Any other rules - basic legal stuff, relevant to the laws in your area (such as no defaming various doctors you've found you loathe - find a discreet way to warn someone off the local ratbags.

    You needn't start big - small is often best. Informal is great, to begin with. Then let the group go where it wants. You can never try to drive a group - it will drive itself. If you try to drive a group where the members don't want to go, you will fail. If the group is desperately needed, it will run under its own steam. It just needs some steering to keep it on the right side of the road once it's up and running. While you can't choose the destination, you can at least drive it safely.

    Good luck!

  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Thanks Marg for those excellent tips. We've been in contact and took a course on starting a support group at a recent conference and learned a lot - most of what you suggested, but they missed some very common sense ones! I really like what you said about allowing the group to take it's own direction - having general guidelines, but seeing where it goes rather than forcing it one way or another. That's great.

    I will share this with the others. Thanks
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't know if you guys get the British version of "Absolutely Fabulous" - it's about a totally self-absorbed mother (Edina) and her fashion-conscious friend (Patsy), both extremely selfish snobs.
    In one episode, Edina is attending a new-age support group (not sure what it was for) and they had a 'talking stick' which was supposed to be passed to the person who was talking at that moment. You said your piece and then passed the stick to the next person who was waiting for it. The idea was to help people take turns, and share - definitely NOT Edina! Edina was getting so impatient she was grabbing for the stick. The group facilitator, one of those annoying, softly-spoken people, kept calmly correcting her saying, "You may not speak right now, you don't have the stick," to which Edina replied, "Then I'll buy my own stick. How much are they? Where can I get one?"
    A novel approach. All of us who have been to over-controlled support groups just cracked up.

    One more important rule - different people find different ways that help them cope. This needs to be accepted, as well as recognising that we shouldn't criticise someone if their coping strategy is not our own. And vice versa - the new zealot who arrives to help everyone else to discover that what worked for them will help all the others - not acceptable. The door's thataway.
    Our support group was connected to disability and trying to find ways to cope. One woman actually recovered by taking a certain collection of vitamins and supplements. We were very happy for her and a few people tried the same ones, but without the same miraculous results. No recriminations - what worked for one was not the answer for another. We were glad for our friend who got better and continued to support those who did not. The aim was as positive as possible - the search for the cure is an individual one, the group was mostly about helping each other cope day to day, where we were rather than where we were aiming for. While I'd love to be physically well, in the meantime I have kids to raise, does anyone have practical suggestions on how to hang out the washing when your arms feel like lead? Easy cooking recipes? Things to say to certain doctors when they expect you to do something totally impossible?

    Basically, think about what rules work on this site. Use those. Write your own procedure as you go, ask others for input. Keep it low key and relaxed and just enjoy the time together, because a burden shared is a burden halved.

    Sounds like you're definitely on the right track.