Group purpose statement and group agreement

In 2014 we will prepare a group purpose statement and group agreement. One of our members has done an excellent job of preparing draft versions.

Support group members are encouraged to have a say in the way these documents will be developed. The first meeting of AWPCSG will be on FEBRUARY 11th, 7pm at the Albury Commercial Club. The group purpose statement and group agreement will be the main business at this meeting.

Please read the suggestions below, and come along to the next meeting with your ideas.

Group Purpose Statement

Ideally this should be no longer than 3-4 sentences. It should be simple, honest and frank. Most importantly, it should tell potential new members what the group will offer them when they come along.

So in forming this Statement, ask yourself these questions
·         What kind of group are we?
·         What do we do?
·         Why do we do it?
·         What does our group stand for?
·         Who can attend?         (Now try to write a 3-4 sentence statement that captures the purpose of our group - not easy, is it!)

At our next meeting (not Christmas) we can throw your ideas in and come to some consensus on something that will suit. We may even want to just adapt one of the samples below.

Here are a couple of samples of a Group Purpose Statement:
1.       The purpose of the AWPCSG is to provide information , education from health professionals and support to men and their partners, carers and family affected by prostate cancer. Support means the group will offer a place where men can share with like-minded people and learn coping skills in a non-judgemental, caring atmosphere in the hope of relieving the sense of feeling alone.
The AWPCSG exists to provide support and friendship for prostate cancer sufferers and their carers/partners. We discuss in confidence where members are at with their treatments. We aim to raise awareness of prostate cancer in our community and we welcome new members.

Group Agreement

A group agreement is a set of guidelines for leaders and members to follow and outlines how the group will operate. It should keep us together and on track. It needs to reflect the wishes of the group as a whole, not just be imposed on members. It is a living document (i.e. it can be changed as needed). It sets the tone, sets boundaries and helps manage challenging behaviour. It helps to create a safe environment. (Wow! This makes us sound an unmanageable lot - untrue!)
When we are  developing this Group Agreement, it is vital that you input points you believe are important. A couple of styles of group agreements are listed below to start you thinking. Bring your thoughts on these, and some of your own, along to the next normal meeting.

Example 1:
·         Confidentiality - keep discussions between group members only
·         Respect - let each person speak without interruption
·         Guest Speakers - keep introductions short, give speaker time limit, add question time
·         Patience - be patient towards group members, especially those in need
·         Constructive discussion - confine group discussions to issues and coping strategies specific to the group, deal with external matters later
·         Group ownership - it is your group. Speak out, be respectful and stay on track
·         Finish meetings on time, arrive on time.

Example 2
·         What we share in the group remains confidential. What is said in the group stays in the group
·         We encourage “I” statements, so that everyone speaks  in the first person. “I think” “I believe” “I reckon we  could..”
·         It is important we actively listen and avoid side conversations
·         Our goal is to accept people and avoid making judgements
·         We try not to discuss people who are not present
·         We especially encourage members to regularly share their strengths, skills, insights, successes and hopes
·         We have the right to ask questions and the right to refuse to answer.
·         Each of us shares responsibility for making group meetings work
·         We recognise the need for volunteering our time to share in taking on responsibilities outside meetings when possible
·         No naming/shaming of health professionals  

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