Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bringing Volunteers & Organisers Together

Across the UK there are an assortment of local groups for bi people to get social support.

They vary in shape and size greatly - in Manchester and Brighton there are groups which meet up several times a month, and have pub, coffee and community centre type meetups to suit people who feel comfortable in different settings. In London and Birmingham there's a similar range but offered by different, separate groups each meeting less frequently. Glasgow at present only has the community centre meeting model. Cardiff and Swansea do a mix of community centre meets and pub socialising.  In other places, meetups are more ad-hoc with more of a focus on web and email communication between times.

Some do outreach stalls, offer speakers and training, produce resources, research and information.

Every group has things it does well and things it could do better. It seems foolish to each be inventing the wheel in parallel across the country without comparing notes on shapes that seem to be performing well or poorly.

A couple of the groups have really big regular attendance numbers. If other towns can learn from them, that would improve the reach of the support to  bi people, as well as helping increase visibility and strengthen challenges to biphobia. Other groups have delivered or collaborated on research to reflect bi needs: again, good to replicate or learn from elsewhere. Some are much better at engaging new volunteers than others.

So at BiCon last summer, I ran a workshop focused on bringing those groups together and comparing experience, ideas and what challenges we see in front of us. It went pretty well, and led to the Bi Local Groups Network for us to keep talking the rest of the year.  But no amount of email chatter can compare to being in the same physical space with people wrestling the same organiser challenges.

So now a year on we'll have another similar gathering. If you run a local bi group, or are thinking of getting one started, why not join us in Glasgow next month?

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