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Rosalind Priestley - The Case for Not Having Helpers

No Helpers. From Stefan Freedman, July 7, 2007. Time 12:50

I am generally in agreement and v glad to hear this radical proposal. My little group (Ipswich, a "sub-group" of Norwich) already operates very happily this way. All members, including visitors, are invited to participate in any member testing, applicant meetings, openings, etc and we don't find the need for anyone to say "begin" or "finish".

One misgiving is the obvious one: what to do about a member who intentionally or (more probably) unintentionally sabotages the support role that applicants and members may need? This happens already with certain helpers, if they are opinionated, over talkative etc. It seems that the last world congress initiated a move to persuade unhelpful helpers to gain people-skills or to retire, but wouldn't this be impossible if all members play an equal pastoral role?

From Rosalind Priestley, October 16, 2007. Time 13:49

Stefan, it's good to hear that you belong to a group that is moving naturally in the direction of my proposal, and minimizing the distinctions between helpers and members.

Re your misgiving, I think my article covers that problem. If all members receive training in listening, support, and facilitating, and if there is a set of guidelines that can be appealed to, there is more likely to be effective support in general. I think it would be part of that training to make sure that the less vocal members also have their say and that there is a time limit on speechifying.

As you say, certain helpers are already a problem. Rather than ultimatums and threats of demotion, wouldn't a better solution be to include them in a general program of improved communications? NVC (Non Violent Communication) has been strongly recommended as one option.

Other advantages of having no helpers are that members can look for support from the members they are most comfortable with, and, of course, that the support would be free of any suggestion of superior position, knowledge or authority.

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