We all know how hard it can be in the early days of reaching out for help, and how much courage it takes to step out of isolation and fear. While our meetings are being held online, technical hurdles can be yet another barrier for newcomers. For others, dropping into an online room is easier than showing up at a face-to-face meeting.
How can we ensure we continue to be the hand of AA when someone reaches out for help? Here are some suggestions, coming out of discussions in two E-Comms committee meetings involving members from a range of different groups. This is a work-in-progress, and feedback is always welcome. See also Zoom Guidelines.
Most meetings invite newcomers to introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting. It is also a good idea to invite them to stay and chat after the meeting has closed. And do start your meeting at least 20 minutes early. As well as being an opportunity for fellowship, it also means you can sort out any technical glitches before the meeting starts.
It can be daunting for some newcomers to speak with the whole group. Some groups are experimenting with creating a designated service role for Newcomer Rep, or Online Greeter, ideally two people for mixed meetings – a man and a woman. That person would be responsible for exchanging phone numbers with newcomers, and making a follow-up phone call to offer guidance and support.
You may want to consider an appropriate sobriety requirement for this service role – many groups stipulate one year’s sobriety for key positions, but there’s usually room for discretion with this. You could also suggest that a member interested in taking on the role first discusses it with their sponsor before putting themselves forward.
We also suggest that meetings have a role for Host (and ideally Co-Host) separate from the Secretary role – see Zoom Guidelines for more on this. The Host can assist the Newcomer Rep / Secretary in identify newcomers.
Posting info in Chat Box
You can share this link for information about tradition seven and about how to access literature:
You may also wish to create some introductory words for newcomers to post in chat, with key information (see suggested template below).
If you haven’t already, how about creating a WhatsApp groups for your meeting? This works well, not just for chat between members, but to actively support newcomers and nurture them in the context of the group. There are also intergroup-wide groups newcomers can join – see contact us for more details.
Breakout Rooms and 12 Stepping
Hosts could create ‘breakout’ room for newcomers so they can chat with 1 or 2 members separately – less intimidating than speaking in the whole group. This could happen at the end of the meeting, or separately.
Some meetings invite people to share with the group if they are available for sponsorship. Some meetings also have sponsor list.
It can be difficult asking about sponsorship, we’ve all been there and understand it isn’t easy. Please suggest to the newcomer that they stay on the zoom call after the meeting to chat with other AA members and ask about potential sponsors.
Finally, the General Service Board of AA has produced some guidelines to help us consider our responsibilities towards vulnerable people in our meetings. It also suggests steps we can take if we become aware of harmful behaviours or discrimination toward minorities within the group. Download
Newcomer welcome template for posting in Zoom chat
Feel free to use and adapt, and send us your ideas if you have something to add!
Firstly and most importantly well done for attending this meeting – asking for help takes a lot of courage.
Sponsorship is recommended to help you navigate your recovery journey and to guide you through the 12 step programme, and it’s suggested that men help men and women help women.
If you have any questions about the 12 steps, sponsorship and how it all works please use the chat box – just identify yourself as a newcomer and state that you would like some support. One of the established members of the group will then be in contact privately.
Please remember if you are giving out your telephone number to another member of the group to use the ‘Private chat’ function.
Feel free to share during the meeting, but any questions you have will need to be answered either directly after the meeting has finished, or on a 1-2-1 basis afterwards.