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Coronavirus News

Tradition 12: Anonymity is the spiritualfoundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Tradition 12: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before  personalities.


The spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice. Because A.A's Twelve Traditions repeatedly ask us to give up personal desires for the common good, we realise that the sacrificial spirit - well symbolised by anonymity - is the foundation of them all. It is A.A.'s proved willingness to make these sacrifices that gives people their high confidence in our future.


From Tradition Twelve, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions


30th March 2020

The Government continues to re-iterate the clear message that we must stay at home to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the NHS and those around us. 
They have suggested to us through Public Health England (PHE) that :
Only in exceptional circumstances should an individual sponsor visit a sponsee to provide 1:1 support at home. They should both then follow the same precautions as are required of essential services i.e. stay at least 2m apart in an adequately ventilated area, both wash hands, don't go if either party is showing any symptoms of the virus, don't visit people who are self-isolating because they have COVID 19 symptoms, do not visit those who are being shielded because they are highly vulnerable or if the sponsor themselves is from a vulnerable group.

It is good to know that our work with PHE is recognised in their concern for our wellbeing and their understanding of how we work.


Roundabout and Share magazines

We are aware that many members will be unable to collect their copies of their magazines as they are ordered through their groups and this might currently cause problems. For this reason we are publishing full versions of the magazine (minus the Meetings Changes pages) here on the website. If anyone who is not a subscriber wishes to download a copy they may feel free to do so. The normal subscription price is One Pound - perhaps you might consider either paying your One Pound direct to GSO via bank transfer here, or simply adding a One Pound when you are next able to put money in the pot. Download your pdf version of the magazines here:


26th March 2020

New to AA

YOU CAN STILL CONTACT US

If you are new to AA and thinking of contacting us for the first time, please do not hesitate to make contact as all of our services are still available. Our free national helpline, our help@aamail.org and our ChatNow service are all manned by AA members working from home and they will be more than happy to hear from you

Whilst most of our meetings have had to close following Government guidance during this unprecedented time most of our groups have been able to establish on-line meetings. Following your initial contact with AA you may like to attend one of these and our contacts should be able to help you to do this.

There is a wide range of literature that is recommended for new members available on our Newcomers section on this site, please make use of this.

Meeting Finder / Meeting Changes

Given that in accordance with Government instructions all meetings will now be closed, GSO will stop adding that information to Groups' entries in Meeting lists. However over the past 10 days or more, GSO staff have been on request flagging meetings as Closed, and again where requested creating new online meetings. Most online meetings have no location so will not appear in a geographical search, by town or Near me. Searching Online will of course list all online meetings but sorted by creation date so recent entries are likely to be at the bottom of the list.

From now on, where it is clear that a meeting has moved online from a physical location, the existing meeting title will have Online added and joining instructions for the online meeting will be entered in the Details section. This means that searching for a meeting in a given town will now show all existing meeting information with an indication of online activity where it exists.

It will take some time to get all entries updated so please bear with us.

If your meeting has moved online but is not yet showing as described above, or to make any other changes to your listing, donā??t complete a Pink Form, just email groupinformation@gsogb.org.uk.

Tradition 7

Further down this page, you will find GSOs bank details to allow any part of the structure to send donations directly to GSO. We have been asked whether we suggest that Groups publish their bank details to allow individual members, in the absence of  The Pot, to donate to their Group. This is of course a matter for the Group conscience to decide, and whether their Intergroup might agree to publish this information on their microsite.

Fellowship Magazines

Share and Roundabout April issues have been printed and posted to personal subscribers. Because of meeting closures some Groups may be unable to collect, so a downloadable file of each will be added to the relevant website page for viewing or printing off. Watch this space: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/Members/Fellowship-Magazines

Zoom

Some concern has been expressed about helping newcomers at their first, or early online meetings when everything is strange. It has been pointed out that Zoom allows the creation of breakout rooms separate from the main meeting room, suitable for small group chats. Click the link below for information and note particularly the para re recording. We pointed out on March 20, in MEETING CHANGES below that certain features in Zoom need to be disabled in order to help protect anonymity. This is an important one. Click here for guidance


24th March 2020

Meeting closures and Online Anonymity
Due to the large number of group closures we are working under the assumption that groups are closed unless GSO is informed otherwise in which case a note will placed on the Meeting Finder showing under the group details 

As detailed below and in emails to all Members in Service, we are updating the Meeting Finder with specifics of online meetings and this in some cases includes links to online providers offering Video and Audio meeting services. All Members should be particularly mindful of using their names and email addresses when starting and joining such meetings as often personally identifiable information is clearly visible when you log in or join. 
Click here for some guidance on registering Online Meetings with us.

While anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, personal anonymity is a personal responsibility. 

Literature
Due to a reduced staff at GSO although literature orders will still be processed these will take longer than usual to be delivered. Please help the staff by placing your orders online. We will keep you updated in the event of a full office closure. Thank you for your patience.


23rd March 2020

  • Please note that General Service Office, Northern Service Office and Southern Service Office cannot receive visitors at the present time.
  • Our GSO staff are working under severe pressure at the moment. They are doing their very best to keep meeting information up to date, but it would be wise to check with local contacts before travelling to a meeting which might well be closed.
For those looking for suggestions on online meeting set-up please scroll down the page. 

20th March 2020

The General Service Board recommends that all Groups take heed of the latest Government guidance on public gatherings and if required make alternative online arrangements for meetings.

We are updating meeting locations and status as we are informed of changes - please email your meeting status to

groupinformation@gsogb.org.uk. All changes will be added to the meetings 'details' tab/ link of each meeting on the Meeting Finder

Due to the current situation GSO requests please do not call the offices in York, London or Glasgow but rather email gso@alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk for general enquiries. We will respond as soon as we are able

MEETING CHANGES

Taking advantage of technological advances, for example, A.A. members with computers can participate in meetings online, sharing with fellow alcoholics across the country or around the world. In any meeting, anywhere, A.A.s share experience, strength, and hope with each other, in order to stay sober and help other alcoholics. Modem-to-modem or face-to-face, A.A.s speak the language of the heart in all its power and simplicity.
Foreword to Fourth Edition, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. xxiv

The coronavirus situation has resulted in many meeting venues being unavailable, or in Groups opting to follow Government guidelines to minimise social contact. They have therefore decided that their meeting will be closed for the immediate future, or that meetings will continue online.

It is suggested that should a meeting not be taking placed as advertised then a Group member should attend the venue before the usual start time to advise or redirect visitors or, more importantly newcomers who had expected to find a meeting there.
Many meetings already exist online and can be found here: 
Should you wish to start an online meeting as a temporary replacement for your usual face-to-face one, there are a few pieces of software available, see below. Please note that these are commercial products and we have no affiliation with the companies that supply them. Also, neither GSO nor Electronic Comms Subcommittee can offer technical support for any of these packages.
A further word of warning: there are a few websites around claiming to offer AA Online Meetings but have no connection with Alcoholics Anonymous. Some may be genuine, but others may charge fees, while others will require you to download their software, which may contain malware. We strongly recommend that you avoid all of them and join an existing group (above) or create your own online meeting.

Online meeting software
Text
WhatsApp, Group text messaging

Audio and Video
Skype, Zoom, Webex, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Google Hangouts

To preserve Anonymity you should check carefully the settings on the below mentioned suggested solutions. Some examples of this may be:
In Settings:
  • Require Encryption for Third Party Endpoints
  • Disable Auto saving chats
  • Disable File transfer
  • Disable Feedback
  • Disable Screen sharing
  • Disable desktop/screen share for users
  • Disable Remote control
  • Disable Local recording
  • Disable Cloud recording
  • Disable Automatic recording
  • Disable Local and Cloud recording features
  • Take care when using your name or email address to log in as these may be displayed at the start of the video call

Skype 
Free and standard now on many PCs and laptops. Capable of handling meetings with up to 100 participants (just increased from 50). 
How-to guide here

Zoom
Free for meetings of up to 40 minutes duration. For longer meetings, one member (the host) must upgrade to the Pro version.
How-to guide here

WebEx
Free for up to 100 participants. A WebEx meeting can be started by anyone with an account who then just shares the single meeting link and people can join by simply clicking the link - whether they have an account or not.
How-to guide here

Tradition 7
Members can make their contribution direct to GSO by bank transfer see below. We are presently setting up a PayPal Giving Fund which operates slightly differently from other just giving services in that it charges no fees or commission on monies donated. We hope to have that set up and running within a few days. Details will be posted on this page.

For the account of : The General Service Board
Sort code: 40-47-31
Account number: 63930408

HSBC Plc 
13 Parliament Street
York
YO1 8XS


12th March 2020
The General Service Office has been receiving enquiries from members regarding the effect of COVID-19 (coronavirus) virus and how it might impact meetings.
While appreciating the concerns of the membership, The General Service Office does not have access to any information that is not currently publicly available and would encourage members to consider the advice given by their relevant governments and health services across Europe.
Regarding Anonymity, Groups are encouraged to co-operate with medical authorities. Therefore if a member of a group is requested to supply names of members to relevant authorities to check who has been in contact with whom for tracking COVID 19 spread, it is suggested that the Group hold a conscience about the dissemination of Group member identities. -
Here are some examples of the actions some groups are taking across the service structure, and these include:-
  • Taking Local Health Authority advice to minimise spread e.g. hand washing, avoiding close contact, shaking hands, hugging, etc.
  • Suggesting that members who think they may be at risk of having contracted the virus stay away from meetings until they are sure they are clear.
  • We suggest that members who may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of the virus consider their safety before attending meetings.
  • Members who need to isolate themselves can be supported through telephone calls or electronically, e.g. WhatsApp groups.
  • Groups can contact premises' owners to find out if they intend to close the building and under what circumstances.
  • Should groups close temporarily, they can inform the General Service Office as soon as possible to enable meeting details to be updated.
  • Groups can make use of online facilities - this has included regular face to face meetings converting to an online format as a result of moment restriction in their area.