Gingerbread Groups – a huge success or a bit of a disappointment?

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  • #31136 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    Mike, many thanks for your feedback.  You quite rightly highlighted some gaps in the debate that were not visible in the thread above so I will fill those in to avoid confusion.

    A short while ago there was a thread called Saturday night social that started on here, and a need or rather a desire was highlighted to have a platform where users were able to simply converse in an attempt to address loneliness as opposed to simply seek advice.  The shortfall from a technical perspective was the technology this forum i s built on and in an attempt to facilitate the flow of that specific thread I made available a platform on a hosted platform I had set up purely as an experiment and proof of concept as a project in spare time for this purpose.  There were some lessons learnt as to what was positive and what was negative from this idea, a few people used it for a few days but flaws were identified (mostly from a moderation perspective) and the site taken down after discussion with one of the moderators (Justine) who relayed the news of Gingerbread creating their own communication platform, and so removed the need for any further development of my project.

    Her main concern was of the use of the Gingerbread brand on a platform that was not moderated by Gingerbread staff “because it gives the illusion of affiliation and people’s expectation of a safe environment, and due to the fact many users can be from very vulnerable backgrounds and situations, a safeguarding issue is something to be taken I to co sideration”.  On reflection. I ended up having to agree partially with this, and while I could not agree with all decisions made by Gingerbread being in the best interests of safeguarding (for example the decision to open the forum to search engines), and in depth discussion as to why that and other highlighted vulnerabilities were significant…..I had to agree with her that situations such as encountering people who need support was likely and some situations (such as a suicidal peer that one of the other users of the site foud themselves trying to deal with after chatting on this forum) highlight the need for a moderated environment in anything that has the Gingerbread name affiliated with it.  So yes this could not be assured in the environment I had created therefore to have the Gingerbread name associated with it was wrong even though it was run by another Gingerbread peer for other Gingerbread members.   So to answer the query about assurances of Safeguarding, this was part of the argument made by a Gingerbread moderator that their environment is safe therefore any unmoderated environment using the same name is wrong as it gives a false sense of safety by association .  Hope that clarifies.

    I do not concur that this environment assures safety in any way and have highlighted my concerns in detail to the moderators as feedback but that is not the point….it was said by the moderator as a competitive statement of responsibility toward safety and effective jurestiction where moderators are able to influence as opposed to where they can’t, and this was my parallel with WhatsApp (Facebook).

    So to summarise, the hope was to create something people could use to chat easier in realtime without the need to exchange phone numbers (think in terms of the early days of Internet before it became the mess it is now, where you had proper communities etc, and focus was on content not ads etc and real communication with people other side of the world I stead of just reposts of reposts etc.) So the I mention was always to hand the reins over if it was an idea that worked, some lessons were learnt in the proof of concept and ideas of what worked and what didn’t fed back to the Gingerbread team.  Hopefully these have been taken on board and possibly integrated in to the solution being currently developed.

    I do think the Gingerbread face a challenge in developing the new system but it is clear they are enthusiastic about doing so and I am sure in time the end product will address the needs of the userbase.

     

    #31138 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    *comparative not competitive above

    #31140 Report

    Mike_71
    Participant

    I completely get that the use of Gingerbread’s name is problematic outside of the GB environment. Apart from anything else there’s a clear intellectual property violation. It it was me, I’d have sued you 😉

    Seriously though, GB could have let you continue running the chat room on condition you made clear you were not associated with GB. That’s pretty much what’s happening with the Whatsapp groups.

    And I get your safeguarding reference, including the issue of vulnerability (suicide risks etc). However, on that score I’ll venture that safeguarding should not be GB’s concern.

    I completely agree with you that any safety on this forum is illusory. Given the reactive nature of the moderation, as is the case in other moderated forums, there will be posts that are public for a period of time, and indexed by search engines, before any unacceptable content is removed. If someone posts that they’re considering suicide and there’s a reply that encourages them to top themselves, GB’s moderation may not see the post and take removal action in time. What then of the “safety” and “safeguarding”?

    It is pretend safety …and that is more dangerous than not having safety in the first place. But having (pretend) safety serves its own purpose and no doubt gives the management an opportunity to put a bit of gloss on what they claim they are providing to single parents. It must look good in reports, in funding pitches, in grant applications.

    … without the need to exchange phone numbers

    And what’s the problem with exchanging phone numbers? If I wish to give you my number and you wish to call me, it is nobody else’s business. That we used GB’s platform to exchange numbers does not attract any liability to GB.  I do not understand GB’s enthusiasm for controlling everything (or trying to control everything).

    Even I was dumb enough to post my phone number on my profile here, and there will be some people who do that if there is a “phone number” field, it is not GB’s problem. You can’t protect idiots from themselves. You’ve got to treat adults as adults and let them make the full range of mistakes that adults make.

    I do think the Gingerbread face a challenge in developing the new system but it is clear they are enthusiastic about doing so

    I do not doubt their enthusiasm. I’m not sure about their technical ability. If I had to make a guess, I see them throwing a whole bunch of money to reinvent the wheel rather than using Slack, Hangouts, MS Teams or other existing tech solution.

    It is easy to hurl criticism and I’ve not been particularly complimentary here. Every plonker is a critic nowadays. But very few will stick their necks out to contribute to change. GB reached out to me and asked if I’d like to meet and I agreed. It is to GB’s enormous credit that they are willing to go out of their way to listen to a dissenting voice. Not only are they meeting with me, but TWO of them are coming to the meeting and they’re taking the trouble to come to my location rather than requiring me to go to them. That level of putting themselves out, especially to listen to someone like me (!), does need to be recognised and applauded.

     

     

    #31142 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    – “<span style=”color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif; background-color: #fbfbfb;”>I completely get that the use of Gingerbread’s name is problematic outside of the GB environment. Apart from anything else there’s a clear intellectual property violation. It it was me, I’d have sued you </span>😉

    With many forums (this  one included) having sub-threads with discussion on trademarked topics I’m sure you’d be both a busy and wealthy man if you were that way inclined, and were you to join the ranks of the Gingerbread staff, could address their income generation strategy as well as publicity in one foul swoop with your keen eye for money making opportunities. 🙂

    <span style=”color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif; background-color: #fbfbfb;”>- “Seriously though, GB could have let you continue running the chat room on condition you made clear you were not associated with GB. That’s pretty much what’s happening with the Whatsapp groups.”</span>

    The Gingerbread name was removed very early on during the use of the chatroom, and moderators were invited several times to organised evenings by its hosts but to my knowledge none attended, so feedback was always secondhand.  To be clear though the name was removed as soon as this was requested, and it was my decision to close it after discussion thinking it was for the best.  I was hosting it but it was others running it, and in the evenings that these hosts weren’t active, the feedback from users that the room was too quiet or boring, and I did not have time to moderate in the interim and was concerned when I returned to see one day that a user on there had reached out for help and no one was there to reply, so the potential for an adverse situation to occur was high.  One host running the quiz lost confidence in their ability to do so though feedback had been good, and the two most active users of it (one being the creator of the thread on here that was the precursor of the chatroom) I think probably ended up focusing on messaging each other leaving the main room silent which was also common feedback I had about those evenings.  So the main reason for its removal was the feeling that the experiment had run its course and that enough feedback had been gathered to pass the reins to those with time and resource to develop a properly affiliated solution.  So to be clear Gingerbread did not make me take it down, I did that of my own accord thinking it was in everyone’s best interests.  It was no longer actively being used and I did not want a reoccurrence of the peer in distress seeking help and reaching out to an empty room.

    – “<span style=”background-color: #fbfbfb; color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif;”>However, on that score I’ll venture that safeguarding should not be GB’s concern”</span>

    Whether you think safeguarding should or should not be Gingerbread’s concern I can assure you that in the conversation I had with Justine it was one of her concerns and one that I share.  I didn’t want to create something that caused harm and as soon as I found it to be a negative thing instead of a positive I did what I thought was best and took it down.

    <span style=”color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif; background-color: #fbfbfb;”>-“there will be posts that are public for a period of time, and indexed by search engines, before any unacceptable content is removed”</span>

    The posts are public indefinitely, and its not “unacceptable content” that is the risk.  In the interests of responsible vulnerability disclosure I wont discuss details here but have brought specifics to the attention of Gingerbread who have said they will incorporate the feedback into the new system being developed.

    In the interim as you say it is individual’s responsibility to selectively disclose, but forum designers I think should take steps where available to mitigate any risk where possible and the open forum aspect is one of many aspects of this.

    <span style=”color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif; background-color: #fbfbfb;”>- And what’s the problem with exchanging phone numbers?</span>

    This is an interesting question which could easily serve as a separate thread and depends on the context but you are correct that it’s nobody else’s business.  Many people quite rightly however do not wish to do so, and having an the ability to communicate without giving their number out is a useful thing.  This mitigates against the use of the number to enumerate personal details, as well as the risks of sim-jacking, but I don’t think that’s what your question related to, but more a case of is there a need for an alternative and should it be provided by Gingerbread?

    Well Gingerbread several times have approached users asking what would be useful, and I’m sure they have a long list they are working through.  There are several instant messaging platforms that do not require the use of a phone number but the challenge is that different people use different ones, but as people are on this forum wish to communicate, the creation of an app for example that is easy to use on mobile platforms and could integrate into the other aspects of Gingerbread is a possibility. Navigating the site and forums on a mobile device is a pain and the natural tendency is to move to other platforms.

    <span style=”color: #1a1919; font-family: Lato, sans-serif; background-color: #fbfbfb;”>- “I do not doubt their enthusiasm. I’m not sure about their technical ability. If I had to make a guess, I see them throwing a whole bunch of money to reinvent the wheel rather than using Slack, Hangouts, MS Teams or other existing tech solution.”</span>

    I agree.  It is pointless reinventing the wheel, and not only is money wasted in the development of new solutions, any new bespoke solution will inherently be less secure and bug ridden than some tried and tested solutions already in use.  I imagine that chat functionality would be based on an existing protocol or framework in use as you say but implemented in an easily accessible form for the site’s users.  Of course users can break away and use Signal or Kik or whatever else if they so choose, it’s not about control, but having responsibility for anything which has the brand name associated with it as you pointed out earlier. Anyone deciding to share personal details amongst themselves its up to them as you say.

    It’s great Gingerbread have approached you as they have me, and it’s important as you say to address negative aspects as well as applaud and recognise when things are done well.

    All the best.

    #31145 Report

    Mike_71
    Participant

    when I returned to see one day that a user on there had reached out for help and no one was there to reply

    So?

    It’s not your problem, not my problem, not Gingerbread’s problem.  That user who reached out for help also called her mother that evening and her mother wasn’t in. Yikes, her mother wasn’t in! Shall we send someone around to terminate her mother / burn down her house?

    The facility was a chat room FFS, not the Samaritans! It’s not a guarantee, it’s not a service, it’s not your local NHS Trust’s A&E for emotional injuries.

    You can’t be everything to everyone. You can’t be there all the time. You need to be prepared to let people slip through the net. Ironically, in not having that facility there are probably a lot MORE single parents who’ve slipped through the net, people who’ve taken some drastic action because they didn’t have anyone with whom they could chat.

    And that’s alright?

    Make the facility available, state your disclaimers – “GB take no responsibility, blah, blah” – and, this is the most important bit, get the hell out and stop nannying!

    but the challenge is that different people use different ones, but as people are on this forum wish to communicate, the creation of an app for example that is easy to use on mobile platforms and could integrate into the other aspects of Gingerbread is a possibility.

    Yikes, that’s Gingerbread type thinking. You seemed like such a sensible chap. What happened? 🙂

    Different people use different messaging platforms. Not our problem. If GB chooses one, people who wish to chat on it will simply have to download it and set it up and learn how to use it.

    But, instead, from an organisation point of view, I can see GB getting excited about the idea of creating a whole new app! It means a big new project, a large budget, grounds (an excuse?) to make a new grant application. “Our users really, really need this, please can we have the money?” It means a project that the talking shop can get their teeth into –  they can form a committee, get a focus group together, do research, write reports, create a road map, run a pilot…. all the usual stuff.

    No, it’s not a “challenge”, it’s an excuse to frame something as a challenge … so that we can talk and talk and talk. There are enough good platforms out there for GB to just get the hell on with this.

    it’s not about control, but having responsibility for anything which has the brand name associated with it as you pointed out earlier.

    Then put a big disclaimer up. Brand name issue solved!  But that won’t happen.  GB won’t do that because they want control over any facility, want to monitor what’s happening, want data to put in their reports about how effective it has been and why the money spent on it was justified….

    So they will infantilise all of us single parents and corral us into a play pen that’s within their own premises under their own security cameras. It doesn’t matter if nobody ever uses it. At least it’s safe.

     

    #31146 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    You may well be right that over-concern for one member is above and beyond, and as you say you can’t fix everything or help everyone and as a service ultimately responsibility has to be on service users.  With the chatroom I created being unaffiliated concern was that liability had the potential to be applied when it suited.  So while Gingerbread were in a position to be able to disavow any responsibility for anything related to the site and keen to do so with their name initially – Justine’s take on it was that there would be responsibility on myself and I did not want responsibility for something out of my control and unmoderated, and the room hosts were unable to do this effectively due to time constraints so I was the one who was approached.  I did put a disclaimer however and maybe what was needed was a clearer one.  That way at least that base is covered.

    Re: use of different platforms yes absolutely not a problem..  But for ease of use if groups use one that is easy for people to download and install and is cross platform (device/os) then people of all levels of technical ability will be able to use it, ideally there should be no download..it should an accessible website in first instance…get the basics right first.

    Re “Get the hell out and stop nannying” It may be a case of taking a hard line with those on here that approach other members threatening suicide or attention seeking etc certainly as this is unfair on other forum users, while one can sympathise with people’s situations it is extremely selfish of them to refuse advice given to cotact relevant help that is in place and approach other individuals indicating they have let them down etc.. By doing so and saying if you cared you’d help. This is a parenting forum and using the forum in that way is abusive to other members.

    However when I pulled the plug it was a case of while it was good it was good, unfortunately I dont want to be the one to deal with that kind of thing….when it happened I was not at all comfortable in doing so.   I for one as well as someone who ran one of the quiz nights who also had a similar experience, did not relish being in a position where they felt responsible for another person harming themselves.  Some people are. Some people are trained and some people have the time to do this.  My project was run as a vulantary contribution in between work and parenting and I wasn’t able to give it the time needed and I came across situations beyond the scope of my experience so I pulled the plug its that simple.  To me it was done with best I tentions but then not worth the stress in the end.

    Safe as you say is a myth and any organisation can only go as to say they have done all they can…. No guarantees can be made as you say.

    Gingerbread is a business and a product, certainly they will want to do the best they can as with any business or charity to promote their services and yes of course there are other platforms available to parents out there using open source solutions or using the aforementioned propriatory platforms such as Facebook, meetup, WhatsApp, all with their pros and cons.

    I agree that there may well be too much over thinking as one user said when the solution could be as simple as moving from an antiquated web host and content management system to a newer one that works well on multiple platforms and easily accessible on a mobile.

    As you say it does not need to be a bespoke solution.  The means to do it is already out there, its about getting it done. There should be no need to reinvent the wheel.

    #31149 Report

    Mike_71
    Participant

    Justine’s take on it was that there would be responsibility on myself

    There isn’t responsibility on you. If that were the case no online forum would exist! Facebook wouldn’t exist. If someone does say something defamatory / illegal (inciting violence for example) you need to take action if there is a complaint. Otherwise, there isn’t a responsibility on you. Someone on GB should read up on the law.

    But, yes, this lack of action because of some irrational fear is the kind of safety play one would expect of large organisations. Let’s not assess the level of risk (to us) or how it can be contained. Let’s just avoid acting altogether because there may be some risk there.

    It may be a case of taking a hard line with those on here that approach other members threatening suicide or attention seeking etc certainly as this is unfair on other forum users

    I hear what you’re saying, but I still think you’re headed down the wrong track. You are seeking to protect “other forum users”. It’s not up to the platform operator to protect anyone or to decide what is fair and unfair! Set the rules, let the adults get on with it, but act if there is a valid complaint made directly to you about a rule being broken. That’s it! Stop monitoring, fiddling, making judgement calls. But I guess it’s very, very difficult for hidebound organisations to get that out of their DNA.

    Returning to a point I touched on earlier – how GB came to the survey conclusion that the #1 thing we want is for GB to do more advertising – here’s something worth watching 😉

     

    #31150 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    Ah what I said about hard line was misinterpreted.

    What I meant was that if someone wants to go and do that its their own responsibility.  And if they are abusing services available to them as I described above the solution is to remove the person not the service for fear that may happen again….it was a knee jerk reaction on my part but also after being advised Gingerbread were going to build something similar I quite frankly thought what’s the point as they have more resource to do a better job.

    As you said above I may have been feeling responsibility that shouldn’t have been mine to take un-necessarily.

    I agree that for an existing service more effort should be made into improving existing services than advertising ones in need of improvement or new ones in the pipeline.  Once services improve publicity takes care of itself through reputation and word of mouth, in short the product sells itself but first you need a decent product.

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by Welshdad.
    #31152 Report

    SoccerDad
    Participant

    Interesting conversation. Couple of observations – the chat room from WD was a god send, and I set up the Friday night social thread that was designed to help those feeling lonely and isolated on a Friday (or any other) evening – the chatroom use was an evolution of this, and GB advised they are working on a more seamless version of the chat solution, so it made sense to let them develop theirs out. Some people on here have also been really useful in offering support to people who come on to a site like this feeling daunted, alone and with no idea of where to even start (Ramblin Jon among them – these guys just want to help, and I know it helped me a lot when I first started on here)

    Everyone has a view on GB as a site and platform with the meet up groups, and I would agree that there could be more groups in some areas, but personally, I found the forums and website helped me to get to grips with what was going on, and to know that I wasn’t the only one on this journey.  The social thread gave a great place to point new people to who were not as far “down the road” of coming to terms with their situation as others.

    By their own admission, they may not be perfect at times, but for me (and many others), it has proved an invaluable support, and for it to be free and provided by a charity that don’t have to do it if they didn’t want to, I think makes it even better.

    Incidentally, on the subject of going “off piste” and using the chat room and then  WhatsApp, this has worked very well for me!

    If people want to go and arrange their own separate get togethers in groups, there are plenty of mediums to do this on, and hopefully GB and other places will continue to help people who, faced with one of the crappiest situations they’re ever going to have to deal with, could do with the support, no matter how much or little can be provided.

    #31160 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    Glad to hear it was of use to you Soccerdad, great to hear you’re in a good place now 🙂

    #31162 Report

    BluebirdSue
    Participant

    Hello everyone

    I admit I haven’t read everyone’s post on here properly but in my mind, I think people should find a local interest group or consider starting one.

    I do empathise with other single parents, I really do. But do other single parents and their stories just remind you of all the stresses that you have been through?

    We all need time to heal and we often forget we are people too with our own interests.

    Its true a lot of people take advantage and are attention seeking. People who knew about gingerbread many years ago would associate it with group holidays and such, stuff that would really make a difference to peoples lives.

    #31199 Report

    Welshdad
    Participant

    If I’m not mistaken I think what Mike was saying above was that although there is a level of responsibility for safeguarding, there has to be a certain responsibility in service users themselves, for example after refusal to follow advice such as using helpines etc or the blatant use of forums for attention seeking as opposed to genuine cries for help the moderators of this forum as well as any unaffiliated chat room, or other mediums, are limited in what they are able to do, some people dont want to be helped and the removal of the chat room because of one user may have done more harm by depriving this facility from other users who found it useful,  who may have been have been put in touch with someone who helped or simply not being alone at their time of need.

    I absolutely agree with you Anonymous that safeguarding should be a priority, and I agree with Mike that service users should take responsibility for their own welfare too.  I also think that in highlighting flaws in unaffiliated platforms and claiming their platform is safe, Gingerbread should take steps to address issues that have been highlighted in this respect before any such claims can be made of safety because as Mike said above the illusion of safety is more harmful than simply acknowledgement and awareness that something is not and to take appropriate steps to mitigate this (for example not use photographs on an open forum, not use emails as usernames, not discuss details of school locations or home location, not disclose whereabouts on given days/ times, not discuss pending court cases ….the list goes on, but the simple change if this from an open forum to a closed one as before would mitigate these risks in the interim before the new platform is developed.

    Mike said you shouldn’t have to protect users from themselves but I disagree if the ability to mitigate is available it should be used.  The claim that an open forum is safer is ridiculous.

    #31200 Report

    Mike_71
    Participant

     

    I admit I haven’t read everyone’s post on here properly but in my mind….

    If you displayed a bit of courtesy and read the original post – about the shortage of local groups – maybe you wouldn’t have come up with the suggestion that people should find a local group 😉

    Anonymous, you’re 100% correct about the charity commission’s stand on safeguarding. welshdad originally raised GB’s safeguarding and my reply was that, in the context of the forum, there is no guarantee and can be no guarantee that this forum is safe! It’s not just about live conversations in public, it’s also about a platform where people can speak with each other by PM.  This is not a safe environment, no forum can be, so giving the public the perception that this is safe …is wrong. welshdad’s chat feature was as safe as the forum itself, not more or less so. Whatsapp is a bigger threat, IMO, and GB is quite comfortable with Whatsapp! No safeguarding concerns there then?

    I disagree with you about the newspaper headline. Newspapers will come up will all kinds of sensational stuff. If an organisation is trying to protect against every possible negative twist a newspaper might put to stories, they might as well just close down.  They should just leave these matters to their PR people. When the story hits the ink it’s their job to get it to say “despite the best efforts of Britain’s number one lone parent charity etc etc”. One of the worst charities in the UK is the NSPCC. But you wouldn’t think it from what you read in the news. That’s the power of PR.

    Soccerdad and welshdad, thanks for sharing the back story about the Friday night thread and the chat room.

    welshdad, I can see the logic in removing the chat ie your expectation that GB was going to introduce their own version. When that’ll happen, or even if it does happen, is a different matter. But, I understand that it’s easy to get drawn into the whole responsibility thing, especially given the cotton wool culture around here, so I can see how you slipped into feeling responsible.

    You are spot on about having a working product and just getting on with the job. I deal with businesses, business owners. I’m used to people who act. A business wouldn’t survive long if it indulged in extended navel gazing, years of talk and more talk, hesitancy to do anything without commissioning a  report and then discussing that report to death before then still not actually acting but having a meeting to decide  how to act, and then following that by drawing up an action plan which is forwarded to stakeholders for consultation prior to formulating a road map blah, blah, blah.

    Text book talking shop.

    A business has to please its customers. It is judged by customers who have the option of going elsewhere. So businesses deliver (or die). Organisations that rely on external parties for their survival, not exclusively the satisfaction of their “customers”, operate to different rules. They operate to produce the kind of drivel that impresses those external parties / funders.

    And that is the natural thing to do if the organisation is to survive! I’ll be the first to admit this. 🙂

    But success in this environment is not like success in the, er, real world. It relies on what management convey in reports as to the achievements of the organisation. And nobody checks if those reports are a true reflection! For example, in their 2016-17 annual report GB claim 845K visitors to their website over the year. I’ll wager that the figure is corrupted by bots, repeats, what not, that the figure would be much lower if you use the industry standard metric of unique visitors. And unique visitors is normally quoted on a per day basis. 845K translates to 2.3K per day. I’ve owned hobby sites that got more uniques than that!

    But in a report that doubles as a sales pitch, the copy has to talk up the achievements, it has to use the big number and try to impress. At least GB claimed “visitors” not “hits”! 🙂 There wasn’t a conscious attempt to deceive.

    Back to groups. In that report mentioned above they claimed this: We’re proud that …we ended the year with 89 active support groups.

    But how many groups did they have in the year before the 89 figure? It was 107! 89 is a drop, not an achievement! That’s not disclosed in  the headline. It’s carefully worded as a We’re proud that …we ended the year with 89 active support groups.

    You don’t get honest reflection in these reports, you get gloss. You won’t get a line saying we are terribly disappointed that we’re failing badly with GB groups and the numbers keep declining from year to year. Only self-sustaining businesses have the incentive to be that brutally honest!

    Organisations like GB have to impress funders, not punters. But at least GB staff recognise that, whatever the annual report says, GB groups is “challenging” 🙂

    In 2015-16 GB had 107 groups, in 2017 they had 89, now it’s 47. I’m looking forward to speaking with GB to see if I can contribute in any small way to support their interest in turning the ship around (even if my only contribution is as a sounding board). If I get a chance later today I’ll post some thoughts below that GB staff can maybe ponder before the meeting, my thoughts on what concrete steps they can take to make groups a huge success, what I’ve used in the past to build self-sustaining groups.

    No invoice will follow, I promise! 🙂

     

    #31209 Report

    myname
    Participant

    I’m a bit scared to reply to this as I run a group and I’m sure it doesn’t meet everyone’s needs and I’m sure people do want more but I do the best I can as a single parent myself with a young child.

    I started the group with support from Gingerbread, and went through CRB checks etc, because there was nothing in my area and I wanted to do something as I was incredibly lonely and isolated and hoped that I could help others while also helping myself.

    I always make sure I reply to a query about the group within 24 hours and I often (90% of the time) get absolutely no response back. Of the 10% who do then respond and want to join a meetup about 75% never turn up. I’d say out of around 40 people who joined my group who I regularly email out meet up times to I have actually met 10 people and only about 5 of those have come along more than once.

    I am very aware that what I can organise in my time and that suits my child is not always going to appeal to everyone, I cater more to younger children, but I have also organised parent only coffee mornings during school hours.

    It is really hard to find a time and activity that suits everyone and that is within travelling distance for everyone, what with some parents not always having their children at weekends or working daytimes it is not easy and I have often found myself a meet ups where no one else has turned up. Which is why I do now only organise things that I am going to do anyway.

    I hope that if I just continue to be available if people do want to meet that will be something.

    #31210 Report

    Mike_71
    Participant

    I run a group

    Fantastic.

    And you won’t meet everyone’s needs so don’t beat yourself up about that.

    I reply to a query about the group within 24 hours and I often (90% of the time) get absolutely no response back.

    Interesting. But I’m not surprised. Thanks also for all the stats, that’s very useful. There’s obviously something wrong here. Not with you, but with the model of groups as designed by GB. In a moment of loneliness people fire off an enquiry and then can’t be ars*d to follow up. Human nature for you, I’m afraid. There are ways to mitigate, but it would require a redesign of groups.

    Don’t be disheartened. I’ve had fair experience with groups of different kinds. What you’re experiencing is not unusual.

    Respect to you for doing what you do. And thanks for taking the time to provide your input.

     

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