Since Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand came into being in 2010, they have helped facilitate and support up to 14 Crohn’s and Colitis Support Groups (CCSGs) around the country.
Since Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand came into being in 2010, they have helped facilitate and support up to 14 Crohn’s and Colitis Support Groups (CCSGs) around the country. The CCSGs provide the opportunity for anyone affected by IBD (patients, their families and friends) to meet other people who understand the challenges of IBD. CCSGs are run by people with IBD for people with IBD, providing information and support for their community. They hold meetings and have contact lists and social media pages, providing a safe and supportive environment where individuals impacted by IBD can express themselves openly and receive support and understanding from others with similar experiences.
While CCNZ has always recognised the incredible value of support groups to their communities, not to mention the countless number of volunteer hours that go into running an effective group, there has never been a clear plan on what CCNZ could do to help.
Over the last two years, the Board of CCNZ developed a strategic plan. A central focus of that plan was to develop and implement changes to help and work more closely with the support groups. As the first step in this process, in 2018 Hettie Arends (Coordinator of the Canterbury CCSG) and Anna Scanlen (Coordinator of the Wellington CCSG) were asked by CCNZ to become co-opted members of the CCNZ Board of Trustees in order to develop and sponsor CCNZ’s Support Strategy.
The first major action is for CCNZ to develop a clear process on how they can support the CCSGs. This will be facilitated by setting up regular lines of communication between CCNZ and CCSGs, and the support groups with each other. Areas where CCNZ can provide immediate help include providing expertise in setting up professional email, bank and social media accounts, and providing direct financial support. It will be a mutually beneficial process since strong support groups will then be in a position to support CCNZ’s projects such as Camp Purple, the IBD Working Group, and the Young Adult Retreat in 2020.
The second major action is to develop a guidance document for how to set up and run an effective support group. This will be spearheaded by Anna Scanlen, who gave a presentation on tips for running a CCSG at the 2017 CCNZ Support Group Conference. It will include suggestions on how to structure a CCSG, types of events to hold, and approaches to facilitating and working with different individuals in a support group environment.
There are a number of other actions in the works as well, including building a list of people who can present on different educational topics related to IBD at support group meetings around the country, helping CCNZ develop their social media policy in relation to CCSGs, and exploring the possibility for a future Support Group Conference.
Hettie and Anna are delighted to be helping CCNZ better support the Support Groups. If you have any suggestions for the Support Strategy and how CCNZ can help CCSGs, please contact:
Anna Scanlen at email@example.com