Start a group

What is a support group?

Each support group formed under the auspices of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc. is formed to meet the needs of its particular members. In doing so, the various groups necessarily perform different functions. In setting up a support group in your area, you will need to assess the needs of potential members. Some functions that support groups can carry out are:

  • To identify the needs of people living with schizophrenia and respond by giving emotional support, problem-solving and coping skills, information and practical help wherever possible (commonly referred to as "share and care")
  • To provide education and up-to-date information to members
  • To advocate for improved mental health laws, for more funding, for better mental health services etc.
  • To reduce the stigma of schizophrenia in particular and mental illness in general by raising public awareness.

Although the above list reflects in a general sense the objectives of most of the Fellowship’s support groups, it is certainly not exhaustive – you may identify other needs in your community which you may wish to address. The limit is your imagination and resourcefulness!

How do I set up a support group with SFNSW?

There are a number of steps to follow when setting up a support group with the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc. Once you have established that there is a need within your community for a support group (i.e. you have at least five to ten members who would be interested and committed in forming such a group), the next step is to contact the Fellowship. We will then send you out an application form which you will need to fill in and return to us. You can also do this on line.

What kind of help can I expect to receive from the Fellowship?

Once you have been accepted as a support group of the Fellowship, you will be sent a copy of the Group Leader's Manual and any other relevant information which will help you in the initial stages of the group's establishment. Staff will also be available for you to use as a resource, steering you through the process of forming a start-up committee and helping you with any problems which may arise. Additionally, once you have signed the 'Delegation of Authority' (i.e commenced as an auspiced group of the Fellowship), you will be automatically covered for insurance (both public liability and volunteer insurance) and you will be able to set up a bank account in your group's name and begin fundraising if you wish. The Fellowship will help you both to plan fundraising activities and prepare submissions for funding for your group.

As a Group Leader, you will have the added benefit of training sessions and Group Leader meetings, whereby you will be able to hook up with other leaders, swap skills, network, share ideas and gather information. Growth and development of your group will at all times be fostered - you will have a huge resource to draw upon - from mental health professionals to carers and consumers. You will also be allocated space on the SFNSW web site which averages 100,000 hits per month and listed in the quarterly newsletter which has a readership of 4,000.

What next?

Firstly, you will need to fill out a membership application form. Click here to view or download the membership form. You may wish to discuss your options with the Fellowship before filling out an application form. If this is the case, please feel free to phone us on (02) 9879 2600.