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Potteries & District Intergroup.
The Intergroup, Intergroup Officers, Regional Representatives and Intergroup Money.
The first intergroup in Great Britain was formed in 1957, some ten years after Alcoholics Anonymous came to London, and incidentally in the same year that the General Service Board was incorporated in the British Isles.
These landmarks in our AA history were the initial steps towards the formation of a sound Service structure, which has over the years evolved and grown to help us meet our ever increasing responsibilities.
The Fifth and Tenth General Service Conferences reviewed the purpose and work of intergroups and from time to time committees at other Conferences have suggested activities which should be undertaken at intergroup level. This Guidance gathers together these recommendations.
The aims of an intergroup are to aid the constituent groups in their common purpose of carrying the AA message to the still suffering alcoholic and, by using their combined strength and unity, to improve and maintain good relations with all organisations in the community.
When exercising their voluntary choice to cooperate within the AA service structure, groups take into account that service activities are made more difficult where Health Service and local government boundaries do not coincide with intergroup boundaries, and that their ability to play their part in intergroup will be affected by this and by the proximity of other groups. Practice has shown that boundaries evolve without the overlapping of neighbouring areas. Where two or more intergroups fall within a local authority area their liaison officers co- operate in trying to carry the message (e.g. prisons, hospitals etc.)
Intergroup meetings should be held regularly, wherever possible six times a year. It should be remembered that these are business meetings and should therefore be conducted in a businesslike fashion having particular regard to the guidance in the Traditions and the Twelve Concepts.
One meeting in the year should be set aside for the Annual General Meeting at which the year’s accounts are reviewed and approved, and upon which date the rotation of officers should come into effect. A suitable agenda prepared by intergroup officers should be sent to all groups in good time so that the group can discuss the subjects to be raised and make known their views to their GSR.
Observers are welcome at intergroup meetings but may not vote and it is suggested may only express their views at the invitation of the Chairperson.
The officers can co-opt a member or members, either from GSRs or from groups to perform a specific service such as organising a convention or convening a public meeting. The intergroup may establish sub-committees for specific purposes.
Duties of Officers
The Chair has the responsibility of convening and conducting the meetings, and approving the agenda and minutes before they are published.
The Vice Chair has the responsibility of conducting the meeting in the absence of the Chair.
The Secretary has the responsibility with the Chair for preparing the agenda and minutes of meetings and for distributing these documents to the groups well before meetings so that there is ample time to discuss the contents. The Secretary deals with all correspondence, passing for example requests for speakers to outside organisations to the Public Information Officer or a suitable member. The Secretary keeps in touch with the General Service Office making sure that it promptly has a copy of the minutes and notice of any change of officer.
The Treasurer has the responsibility for keeping a proper account of all intergroup finances and ensuring that funds are available for its essential current requirements. An annual budget exercise should be carried out to ensure that appropriate prudent reserves are maintained. The Treasurer reports to intergroup against the budget. Surplus funds should always be transferred promptly to GSO, ideally via the region treasurer.
The accounts should be open for inspection and presented to intergroup at each meeting. group contributions should be clearly listed so that GSRs can confirm their group’s contributions have been received. This is a fundamental part of the audit trail. Having been audited or independently checked, annual accounts should be presented by the Treasurer to intergroup for approval at the AGM.
The chair will carry the executive authority of intergroup but should account for any action taken at the next meeting.
It is suggested that Liaison Officers work together through a service committee structure.
A Prison Liaison Officer should gather and collate all information about the prison groups in their area (including open prisons, Young Offenders Institutions etc.) and forward the information to their regions and to GSO. He or she should also keep informed via their region and GSO on Home Office and Conference policy with regard to special subjects, such as parole, the use of AA tapes and other AA published material, to help prison sponsors with any problems which may arise in the area. The General Service Office and General Service Board maintain excellent contact with the Prison Department of the Home Office, and intergroups should communicate with GSO regarding any problems which may arise.
A Public Information Officer is responsible for ensuring that information about the AA message and programme of recovery is conveyed to outside organisations to the best possible advantage. The provision of a panel of members to comply with requests for speakers is an important part of this activity. (See Service Handbook)
A Health Liaison Officer is responsible for establishing links with health professionals and co-ordinating all aspects of carrying the message within the healthcare system (See Service Manual)
An Employment Liaison Officer assumes responsibility for liaising with all sectors of commerce and industry. (See Service Manual)
A Probation Liaison Officer/Social Services AA Liaison Officer is responsible for establishing links with the probation services in England and Wales. In Scotland, Social Services are responsible for probation services. (See Service Manual)
SHARE/Roundabout Liaison Officers provide the essential contacts between members, groups and the editorial teams. They actively encourage the contribution of articles and letters and the promotion of the magazines
A Telephone Liaison Officer co-ordinates the working of the Telephone Service as recommended in the Service Manual.
Regional Representatives and alternates should be elected by their intergroup as carefully as Group Service Representatives. They should be chosen as a general rule from amongst serving GSRs but any member, who has the necessary qualifications, even if not at the time serving as a GSR, may be elected. Such a representative will attend all intergroup meetings to report from the region and to hear from the intergroup their wishes to be expressed at the next regional meeting.
It is suggested that at least three years’ continuous sobriety are necessary since it is hardly possible for a person to gain enough intergroup and group service in less time than that, to be of real use to the region.
They should have a good working knowledge of the following AA publications: Alcoholics Anonymous, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA Comes of Age, the latest edition of The AA Structure and Service Handbooks for Great Britain, The AA Service Manual.
They should have good knowledge of the structure of AA.
The Regional Representative would, in the interest of continuity, serve for three years,after which he or she must retire and cannot be re-elected for at least one year.
It is suggested that three Representatives per intergroup be elected to the region since this would give proper continuity.
In addition to the guidelines suggested for a group treasurer the following points should be considered seriously by the intergroup treasurer:
A current bank account in the name of Alcoholics Anonymous and the intergroup is recommended for running the intergroups’ finances. All cheques should be secured by two signatures – any two from three duly authorised. Normally these would be the Chair, Treasurer and Secretary. In the interest of safety, blank cheques should never be signed.
The intergroup treasurer should produce a statement of accounts in writing including a list of all contributions, at least quarterly with copies available for all GSRs in the intergroup.
Intergroup treasurers, by means of workshops, discussions on sound AA financial practice, patience and tolerance, should encourage all component groups to contribute to intergroup on a regular basis. Intergroup treasurers should not be reluctant to approach non-contributing group.
The accounts should be open to inspection and be properly audited or independently checked once a year.
Experience shows that the treasurer when making any payments, whenever practical, should do so by cheque. Receipts should be received for all cash payments and retained.
It is suggested that a prudent reserve for an intergroup is three months’ running expenses.
Intergroups should bear in mind that regularity and evenness in the flow of cash to the General Service Office, ideally via their region, is essential for GSO to meet its day-to-day obligations and operate in an efficient and economical manner.