Advice around groups for Mutual Aid

1. Make groups that last

  1. Trust — A community must feel private and relevant to its members
  2. Vulnerability — You must feel like you can be yourself there
  3. Purpose — It must have a shared activity which is long-term

2. Don’ts for group size & proximity

  1. Street-sized groups are too small, people don’t have enough to talk about and just living on a street won’t hold you together digitally. We see that after 30 days, the community will die out, at 90 days it’ll be gone completely bar 1 or 2 last messages; we call this hyperlocal fatigue.
  2. Ward-sized groups are too big, putting 4,000 people in a room makes for an excellent news-feed (Nextdoor/Facebook) but fails at point two of community building. Instead of enabling vulnerability, you can create a giant soapbox.

3. Do’s for group size & proximity

  1. 600 homes — Our data shows that at best, you’ll get 25% of people nearby wanting to take part in your community (regardless of how important it is). 150 people will join; while being Dunbar’s law, it’s also the best number we’ve found for creating a meaningful group. Personal yet with enough people to create a great sense of local community.
  2. Close enough to care — If you want a group that will last through the potential months of isolation, it needs to fill with people you can relate to. We’ve spent a long time on this, and for real bonds to be made we define a viable group as The people who live on a street I can name, OR within a 10-minute walk of where I live.

4. Caution — A word on WhatsApp

So, what are we (Halo) doing?

  1. A Private group — secure and safe for you and those living near you
  2. Neighbour profiles — Meet your neighbours, say hi and feel connected to people in your area, no lurking users
  3. Instructions and a simple personalised invite you can print and post to letterboxes. (It takes 10 people 30-minutes each to invite the entire area)
  4. All the social-tools to keep in touch over the outbreak, and new local groups being launched each week to help (e.g. home-schooling, elderly care, send me hugs)
  5. Regular positive-reminders each week to help people feel that bit more connected

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