Maintaining a healthy attendance in the group is important for its survival. You will probably want to keep a register of who is attending [link sheet here]. If numbers are getting low, either re-engaging those who have stopped coming recruiting others might be a good idea.
Studies have found that sometimes the small details can be important to keep people attending, such as having refreshments, and good venues – see ‘Venue’ page here.
We have found that people offer various reasons why they stop attending the groups. Often people come to the group, realise that they are actually coping OK and feel like they do not need the group anymore. This is fine! The group has served its purpose in this case. Others have found that the group has ran out of things to talk about. We suggest getting ideas from the ‘Content’ page here if this is the case. Another thing to keep in mind is that attendance does typically drop in the cold winter months. If you are aware of this then at least you will know that lower attendance is not necessarily something to do with how the group is facilitated.
It is important to keep in mind that sometimes people will stop attending for reasons not to do with peer support e.g. they become too ill, or have other commitments come up. It is important to be respectful of these reasons.
Open and closed groups
It is important early on to decide whether the group will be open or closed. In an open group, new members are always welcome to join. In a closed group, once the group is formed it is closed to new members. There are advantages and disadvantages to both set ups, and it really depends on the group as to what the arrangements should be.
Open groups could be seen as a more inclusive approach, as all those who might benefit from peer support are always welcome. In addition, having an open group could be necessary if numbers are low. On the other hand, the trust and familiarity built up in a group could be disrupted by the introduction of new members. Open groups may also require more work, as inviting new people in will be an ongoing process. We would re-iterate that it really depends on the feeling of the group. It might be an idea to see how the group goes and check to see what its members feel about the situation.