Setting up your meet up
What type of get-together would you like? It could be a walk, meeting for coffee, mindfulness evenings, drinks at the pub, something sporty or a more traditional self help group gathering. Consider the Five Ways to Wellbeing if you’re stuck for ideas.
Getting your group description right. Share a little about yourself and keep things friendly and fun. Be specific about your venue and include the postcode so the group will appear on the map.
Don’t forget to be clear about which area of the country your meet up is based in.
As people start to get in touch, don’t be afraid to ask them what sorts of activities they’d find most helpful, and always thank them for their interest and ideas. A warm welcome goes a long way.
It can take time for new people to come forwards and especially with depression, so don’t lose heart if things move slowly.
Little gatherings can work just as well as large ones, so even if numbers are small, set a date for your first get-together and stick to it. It can feel nerve wracking, but sometimes it’s best to start small, jump in and get started.
As soon as a few of us were interested we went straight for the first meet, we thought it might be good to start small, then try to build it up. Four to six people turned up which felt quite positive.
Don’t be afraid to chat to other Friends in Need users to see how they’ve done things. Most people tell us how much they love sharing ideas, tips and experiences, so ask away if there’s anything you’re stuck on. Check out the Tips & ideas for meet ups group for more ideas and tips.
Choosing a location
Meeting in neutral territory is best. Cafes, pubs and outdoor spaces can be fun, informal and free, but for more structured self help groups private spaces like community centres can help people to feel safe. Think about the venue as a starting point – you can always change it later if you need to.
Try and choose a central location with good transport links.
Setting the date
Choose a date yourself and invite people along, rather than trying to negotiate a time that will suit everyone. If someone can’t make this one there’s always next time.
“Initially I tried to arrange a meet up time on the website but this was unsuccessful. I was advised by Depression Alliance to just post a time and date and turn up, and this time it worked as two people showed up.”
Our top tips
Post friendly messages. Post in your group as often as you can to let people know that your group or meet up is active and you’re there to answer any questions
Post after your meet up. Even if it was quiet, let people know what the venue was like and keep things positive, to encourage people along next time.
Be patient. It can take time, so keep trying and remember to use the buttons on FiN to invite all users from your local area. Don’t worry about users getting lots of invites from you, every time you click the invite button only new users will receive a notification.
“Sometimes it takes a little patience because people are very nervous about meeting, and it may take a few tries before it comes together.”
Check your group regularly and make sure your notification settings (click on the bell at the top of the page) are turned on so you know when there has been activity in your group or meet up.If you want to exchange phone numbers of email addresses before your meet up, set up a private group (see FAQs for more details).
Enjoy! Getting people together can be scary, so don’t forget to celebrate each small step together with your new friends.