04-09-2017 01:56 PM - edited 15-09-2017 02:36 PM
You may have seen around the place, some members of our community that has 'Community Guides' under their usernames. This is a wonderful group of community champions who have volunteered to help create a welcoming and supportive community.
We are now looking expand the program! We are looking for Community Guides for both the Lived Experience and Carers Forum.
Below will be some information on the program, criteria and how to apply.
Applications are open until Sunday 1 Oct.
04-09-2017 01:56 PM
Community Guides (CGs) are members of the SANE Forums community who live and breathe the forum values, and care for the community and its members. CGs are;
- Warm and welcoming
- Open and non-judgmental
Those who become CGs are typically already doing the role without even realising! The purpose of the volunteer program is to formalise what they are already doing well and offer additional support to continue their great work to maintain a thriving community.
Some of the activities that CGs do, include:
- Encouraging members to participate in discussions
- Welcoming new members
- Helping members feel less alone, whether it be through sharing on their own experience or through connecting members with similar experiences
- Starting new and engaging discussions
- Following the Community Guidelines
- Flagging concerning content through the ‘Report Inappropriate Content’ function
- Practicing self-care and demonstrating their own help-seeking
- Getting involved with special events, such as Topic Tuesday.
- Being non-judgemental, empathetic and compassionate towards all members
Most of these activities are called Community Building activities. To learn more about the variety of Community Building activities that CGs can be part of, check out the Community Guide Info Pack.
How SANE supports CGs
The CG volunteer program aims to be flexible and to support the good work that’s already been done. To put this into practice, SANE will work closely with each Community Guide, to assist with;
- Creating a flexible CG Plan: This plan is a high level overview of what the individual CG would like to do during their time as a CG.
- Creating a Self-Care Plan: The CG program should never contribute to additional stress or a reduction in mental health. A Self-Care plan helps a CG identify when they may need some time to take care of themselves and how they can go about it.
SANE will support CGs for the duration of their involvement. This will be done through;
- monthly check ins: This check in is an opportunity for the CG to debrief on anything related to the role they wish and to review their CG Plan. This check in can be done via phone or email.
- Community Guide forum: A private forum will be available for CGs and SANE to communicate about upcoming events, to give and get ideas and advice, and to provide feedback when required.
- Online resources and training: Online training components will cover topics like ‘Self care’ and ‘How to encourage people to participate’ and other Community Building activities.
How to become a CG
To apply to be a Community Guide, the person must meet the following criteria;
- Must be a Senior Contributor of the Forums
- Must be interested in doing this role for 6-12 months (we know that circumstances change, participation will fluctuate, time out for self care, holidays is needed)
- Must have not broken the Community Guidelines more than 3 times in the past 3 months
- Evidence of supportive and positive posts to other members
- Evidence of inclusivity and non-judgemental engagement in the Forums
- Evidence of self-care practice and help-seeking behaviour
- Be recovery focused
- Feel comfortable in reaching out and supporting others
- Have external support professionals outside of the Forums (may not be as relevant for Carers)
To apply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information;
- Which Forum do you use the most – Lived Experience or Carers?
- Why do you want to be a Community Guide? (no more than 1 paragraph – dot points welcome)
- In what ways do you practice self-care? (no more than 1 paragraph – dot points welcome)
For more information, please see Community Guide Info pack (below)
04-09-2017 01:57 PM
Community Building Tasks
The following are some examples of how Community Guides (CGs) may participate in their role. It’s not restricted to the following, but provides potential CGs with an insight into what they can get involved in.
Check introduction thread to see if there’s any new members who are yet to be responded to.
Responses to new members contains;
- A warm welcome
- Reflective listening if they have disclosed their experiences
- Suggestions of appropriate action they can take on the forums (eg: suggest and link to threads that are related to what they have shared in their introduction, suggest starting a new discussion so other members can see and respond to their questions, suggest social threads if appropriate)
Special Events: Topic Tuesday, Career Chat and any new events
Topic Tuesday and Career Chat are live information sessions. Topic Tuesdays run for 2 hours once a month in each Forum. It’s typically led by a facilitator (SANE moderator) and often features a special guest.
Career Chat takes place on a Tuesday once a month and runs from 7pm-9pm AEST in the Lived Experience Forum. It is hosted by Ostara Australia and focuses on workplace and employment topics.
CGs can get involved by:
- assisting the SANE moderator / facilitator by acknowledging and ’Liking’ people’s posts, especially during busy sessions
- encouraging members to participate
- asking questions of the special guest
- responding to questions posed by special guest / facilitator
- asking members to expand on their responses where appropriate and helpful
- provide guidance to members who are having difficulties navigating their way through a special event or don’t understand the event format
Ask Anything Monday (not currently active)
Sometimes people will submit questions to email@example.com for moderators to post on their behalf anonymously. This takes place most Mondays (depending on whether a question is submitted or not). Typically, these questions are submitted by non-members / new members who feel apprehensive about their question.
CGs can get involved by:
- using their own experience constrcutively to support and share advice
- suggesting and linking discussions about similar issues / topics
- @mention other members who have similar experiences where appropriate, encouraging them to respond
Friday Feast is a weekly event in the Lived Experience Forum where people come together to share a virtual meal and chat about non-mental health related topics.
CGs can get involved by:
- kicking off Friday Feast on Friday evenings
- inviting members to the event (using the @mention function or posting in other threads)
- engaging with members and participate in the discussion
- assisting if the conversation gets too mental health focused, and suggest other helpful discussions for that member/s
Responding to new discussions
We want to ensure all members feel heard. In particular, we want new members to feel connected and part of the community. Often new members will start their journey in the Forums by posting a new discussion, which is focused on an issue or experience they want support with.
Where there is 3 or less responses, it’s important that a CG connects with these members.
They can do this by:
- welcoming the member and encouraging the help-seeking behaviour they have shown by posting for the first time
- reflective listening and empathy
- using own lived experience constructively to give advice and support, if appropriate
- providing links to similar discussion
- where appropriate @mentioning members that have been through similar experiences – check the member’s profile before doing this to see if in their recent posts to ensure they have not currently or recently in distress
- asking open ended questions to encourage discussion
Not all of the above needs to be done in every instance, but a combination of the most appropriate is recommended.
Keeping discussions on track
At times, discussions that are issue based (ie: started by a member about something they would like feedback, advice or support on) change into social threads. This can be problematic because –
- it’s confusing and disengaging for members who want to read about and discuss the original topic
- it can be discouraging for the author of the thread who may want to continue the discussion about the topic
- it can be seen as disrespectful to the original author
CGs are responsible for assisting in keeping discussions on track by respectfully helping the members who have gone off track to either bring the conversation back on track or move the conversation into a new or a relevant pre-existing thread.
CGs can do this by:
- Building community and creating a sense of belonging for members.
- Assisting in engaging the community as it grows
- Learning new skills, specifically around peer support and mental health
- Contribute to an increase in mental health
CGs are encouraged to get involved in whatever way they feel comfortable, to the capacity they are able to. Monthly check in’s with the Community Managers will provide support for CGs in the activities they choose to be involved in.