This briefing provides groups with some guidance on how groups can be open and welcoming. All Dystonia Society Support Groups are asked to be open and welcoming to all those affected by dystonia and to members, staff and trustees of The Society.
Each group will find its own way to be open and welcoming. You may find it helpful to occasionally re visit this issue and ask yourself “Is there anything we could be doing differently?”.
There are some things we do expect all groups to do to be open and welcoming and these include:
There are a variety of ways to make your group more open and welcoming – talk about how to do this with other group members. Some ideas from other groups are listed below and more ideas can be found here.
Before meetings: If you know new people are going to attend try and make contact beforehand; make sure the venue meets the needs of those coming to the group; if you cover a large area consider rotating the location of meetings; send a mailing with details of how to find the venue At the meeting: Use signposting at the venue to make it easier to find the meeting; meet and greet and encourage existing members to involve new members; make introductions; provide refreshments and an opportunity for people to get to know each other; encourage people to take responsibility for their group.
After meetings: Call new members, if you have their contact details, after the meeting to see if it went okay, get their feedback and so on; follow up meetings with a newsletter or similar.
Remember these are just ideas to get you thinking about how to be open and welcoming - do what feels right for your group. Good luck!