March 16, 2020
Dear S-Anon Fellowship,
The S-Anon World Service Office has seen a recent spike in group correspondence with questions concerning appropriate actions S-Anon groups need to take considering the current situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Whether it’s through a group conscience to postpone meetings for a period of time, taking precautionary measures at face-to-face meetings, temporarily relocating meetings to phone or virtual platforms, or being faced with meeting locations closing the doors to social gatherings, many S-Anon groups are making decisions on how to care for members of the group and newcomers as we all continue to provide support for each other.
In response, we have compiled some recommendations to consider as groups continue to meet or begin creatively brainstorming how to adjust to this current reality. As autonomous entities, it’s up to each S-Anon group to decide what the next right steps are and considering the uniqueness of each S-Anon meeting such as city and number of members, what may be best for one group may not be necessary for another.
Face to Face Meeting Safety
Most large social gatherings scheduled over the next several months for over 100 people are being cancelled or postponed but due to the smaller attendance of S-Anon meetings and the varying locations of each group, some groups may not see the need to postpone meetings. In the event a group decides to continue meeting face-to-face, we recommend that all members practice standard precautionary measures to avoid the spread of any illness such as good hand washing habits, avoiding handshakes/holding hands, and staying home if feeling ill.
Groups may wish to make changes to the Suggested Meeting Format as is reflective of a group conscience to prioritize the safety of all attendees, and group members may want to consider providing hand sanitizer and using disinfecting wipes for all meeting material passed around. We do not encourage meetings be relocated to personal homes.
The decision to continue attending face-to-face meetings is a personal one and all members are encouraged to use their best judgement as they decide what levels of social distancing is right for them. Above all, we advise that every member and group stay up-to-date with local advisories as circumstances may change day to day.
Phone and Virtual Meetings
In the event a meeting location closes to social gatherings or a decision is made to postpone meetings for an extended period, a group may wish to meet via a call conferencing or virtual meeting room platform. If an Intergroup is developed within the area, creating one account with a company that provides these services may be beneficial to help organize meetings locally.
There are no additional guidelines for phone or virtual meetings beyond what S-Anon groups already have for face-to-face meetings, but the group may see a need to adapt the Suggested Meeting Format to accommodate the unique meeting arrangement (i.e., please mute when not speaking or “pass the basket” using a money transfer app).
For any groups choosing to simply postpone meetings and not relocate to phone or virtual meeting space, members can still participate in already established phone and virtual meetings. Please email [email protected] for the phone and virtual meeting schedule.
Communicating with the World Service Office
For groups who have lost their meeting space availability, choose to postpone meetings, or temporarily relocate to a call conferencing or virtual meeting space, please contact the WSO immediately with updated information and include a 1-2 sentence statement that can be published under the meeting’s profile on the Find a Meeting page to inform inquirers about when to check back in on the meeting status or instructions for connecting with members of the group. The WSO typically has a 2-business day turn-around for publishing updated meeting information on www.sanon.org though we will now be prioritizing these updates as they are submitted.
A statement will be posted this week on www.sanon.org which will inform inquirers of potential interruption in regularly scheduled meetings due to the current circumstance.
Serving the Newcomer and Group Members
During this unique time, we would like all groups to carefully consider how they can still extend a welcoming hand to those in need. Updating the WSO with any meeting changes is a great start! If the group has or intends to create a group email, inquirers can be met with a kind, personal message, updated meeting details, a list of group members available for phone support, and even literature or recorded meeting recommendations from the online store.
If your group hasn’t already, this may also be a good time to create a phone list of all attending members. Whether it’s a group text for shares, reading recommendations, or to just check-in to see how everyone is holding up, this phone list could come in handy to help maintain connection with each other.
World Service Office Response Plan
At this time, we do not foresee the need to close the WSO and entirely move work remotely but understand that if our circumstances change, i.e., if a staff member or family member becomes ill or childcare arrangements change, we may also face new challenges in responding to inquirers, members, and groups in a timely manner while we transition work outside the office. In this event, our response time may be strained so we would like to ask groups to consider creating a generic group email to be published on the meeting’s profile so that newcomers can reach out directly to the group, reducing the length of time it may take a newcomer to connect with the local group.
Currently, we have only one staff member who will begin working remotely but because the WSO is in a small office building away from populated areas, the remaining staff will be able to come and go without interacting with others. The Executive Committee will continue working closely with the WSO to ensure all staff members are adequately cared and provided for during this time which means our response plan may need to adapt to changing conditions as they occur.
The BOT is aware of the fiscal impact the WSO may experience if S-Anon meetings cease to gather face-to-face for an extended period. Because 7th Tradition contributions account for 25% of the WSO’s revenue stream, we would like to ask all groups and members consider ways in which we can continue to support the WSO. For example, individual members can make direct contributions to the WSO at www.sanon.org, groups who relocate to phone or virtual meetings can still collect 7th Tradition through money transfer apps, or members can purchase the recorded meetings from the most recent International Convention.
You are not alone.
This statement has certainly been taken to a different level as of recently but truly, we are all in this together.
Please reach out to your Area Delegate or Regional Trustee with any questions on how to connect with other local groups. If your area is not represented by an Area Delegate or Regional Trustee, you are always free to reach out directly to the WSO at [email protected].