Guidelines for Support Groups

Role of convener

  • To confirm times and venue with the group
  • To act as point of reference for the group
  • To pass on to the Trustees ideas from the support group e.g. for training, changes to aspects of our work etc.
  • To ensure group rules are agreed (see below) and circulated
  • To ensure everyone has a chance to speak
  • To note points for further discussion
  • To keep group to time and monitor process
  • To be mindful of attendance, for problem-solving/ following up on difficulties in attending

Role of all group members

  • To offer emotional and practical support to other visitors and teachers
  • To discuss the group’s working agreement
  • To adhere to the working agreement
  • To take a shared responsibility for the smooth running of the group, noting points for discussion, picking up on people’s feelings etc
  • To share expertise
  • To welcome new members up to ideal number of 6
  • To take responsibility for getting the support one needs from the group

Suggested process

  1. Share points of information from Trustees’ meeting and Sunday notices, as appropriate. (This could also come at the end of the meeting.)
  2. Check-in: up-date, feelings and what one would like from the session. Start with everyone taking a turn in briefly saying what is happening for them in terms of visiting/teaching and how they are feeling about it.  This is also a good time to state what one is hoping to get from the session, e.g. practical advice, moral support, information, opportunity to share, opportunity to meet with other visitors, affirmation, get it off my chest, chance to mull things over………..  (This is not the time to answer queries, unless very brief factual answers, nor to start discussions in any depth – keep to headlines.)
  3. Group decides on order and time for further discussion required, based on issues raised and noted in first part of the meeting. (Sometimes it is appropriate just to divide up the time equally between members attending).
  4. Discussion of issues/questions not answered in passing.
  5. Ending – allow some time for a proper closing of the session. It can help to finish on a positive note.
  6. Agree date for next meeting.

Possible prompts

If no particular issues/questions emerge (which is rare!), people could discuss in turn:

  • “Something which has been difficult for me since last we met is……..”
  • “Something which has gone well for me since last we met is ………” This can be a good note to end on.
  • Further possible questioning could include “What did you do that made it go well?”

Working Agreement

Group to establish a working agreement when a new group is started or new members join.

Review these regularly – at least annually – in case of amendments or additions.

Some possibilities for discussion/inclusion:

  • Confidentiality – explore what this means to the group
  • Everyone gets a turn to speak
  • Respect each other’s opinions
  • Option to pass
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Keep to times
  • Send apologies
  • Mobile phones on silent
  • Availability for phone contact between meetings on x-day between y o’clock and z o’clock

Download these guidelines as a pdf.

Last updated May 2021