Tradition 5: ‘Each group has but one primary purpose to carry the message to the debtor who still suffers’

How to get started ‘Carrying the Message’

1. Find Materials

DA Posters & awareness cards (business cards with DA info) available from meeting Literature rep & Intergroup Literature Rep

OR Poster available here to download and print (you can modify with your meeting details if you wish) (Word / PDF)

2. Plan where to go

Start local – near your meeting venue, even a noticeboard at the meeting venue.

Other places near your meeting – shops, newsagent, doctor’s surgeries etc. (see list below)

3. Think about what you’ll say

Keep it short and simple! Have your ‘pitch’ ready – something you’re comfortable with. We found something like this worked well:

“I’m from a local support group that helps people who have debt and problems with money, it’s really helped me and we want to let people know where to find us.”

4. Go to the venues and ask them

It’s best to ask first – some locations might have a policy about what can be on view in their premises. They may let you know where you can put things up.

Where to spread the word?

Here are some ideas from DA fellows of places we could spread the word – putting up a poster or having a conversation about DA:

  • Other 12 step meeting places
  • Citizens Advice Bureau and Citizens Advice Money worries outreach sessions
  • Church, Synagogue, Mosque, Buddhist centre or other religious centre
  • Library
  • GP surgery/health centre/hospital – waiting rooms or with your GP / health practitioner directly
  • Treatment / rehab centres
  • Court / law firms
  • Debt charities
  • Personal friends
  • Yoga Venues
  • Job Centres
  • Food banks
  • University
  • Community centres
  • Counselling services / therapist waiting rooms
  • Places of work
  • On the bus …

What’s Holding me back from Carrying the Message?

I don’t want to break my anonymity

This is understandable. Are there places where it would feel safe and acceptable to you to break your anonymity?

Are there places where you’re unlikely to meet people you know, where it would be easier to start?

Instead of you own home neighbourhood or your place of work, you could start in a part of town where you’re not known. You could choose a location that you don’t have a personal connection to – such as a GP’s surgery other than your own.

I don’t know what to do

Start with something small and manageable for you – like putting up a poster.

If even this feels too daunting, ask a DA fellow to do this PI action together – go to a venue with together. This can also be a great opportunity for fellowship and connection.

I don’t have PI materials to put up

  • Ask the Literature rep at your meeting for DA Posters & awareness cards (business cards) or order from Intergroup Literature Rep
  • Poster available here to download, modify and print (Word / PDF)
  • Or if you’re feeling creative, make your own!

I don’t know what to say if they ask me more about DA

In the experience of the Public information Committee, this rarely happens! If it does:

  • Answer any questions you feel comfortable and able to answer
  • If any questions feel too much, refer them to the DA website, the pisupport [AT] debtorsanonymous.org.uk email address or the national contact phone number. The people who do service on those lines will be equipped to deal with the questions.
  • Remember – you’re not expected to be a fount of knowledge about DA, just to put up a few posters!

I’m confused about the difference between attraction and promotion

Tradition 11 states: ‘our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.’

It is worth noting that Step 11, where this attraction vs promotion tradition comes from, is about public relations. The longer form talks about avoiding ‘sensational advertising’. [The earliest AA meetings placed ads in local newspapers and directories. Putting information into the public realm is ok!] We feel that putting materials such as posters and awareness cards in the public domain is very different from sensational advertising. By making the information available, we attract newcomers. If newcomers are not aware that DA exists, they don’t have the chance to be attracted to it!

This kind of Public Information activity is more about letting people know that DA is there if they need it.

Shame is holding me back

PI activity might be a way of gradually overcoming shame. Give it a try, in a way that feels appropriate and safe for you.

Fear of getting into trouble for putting up the poster

This is a valid fear – ask permission first – unless it’s your own noticeboard or front window!

Lack of commitment, time or energy.

If you’ve read this far, well done – that shows commitment! Public Information is worth doing, because newcomers are our lifeblood. If we don’t have newcomers to share our recovery with, it becomes stale. Giving service is part of recovery. If PI activity appeals to you as a form of service, take some small, manageable steps to grow in confidence with it.

If you lack time or energy for it – you could wait until this feels manageable in your life and recovery. Alternatively, is there a place you currently go to, or pass, say on your way to work, where you could ask to put a poster up? It may only take 5 minutes – a quick and easy bit of service in your day!

Belief that people don’t want a spiritual approach to money 

We can choose whether or not we speak about the spiritual aspect of the programme when we do public information activities. At this stage we’re just sharing information about the meetings being available, and if people choose to come or read about it online, they can make up their own minds about that

If there’s anything else holding you back from doing PI activity, email pisupport [AT] debtorsanonymous.org.uk and we’ll see what we can do to help

Is there any more I can do beyond putting up posters?

Yes! Here are some ideas of other ways to spread the word…

  • Become a PI rep for your meeting
  • Read the PI manual on the American DA website
  • Use letters from the PI Manual to write to Professionals
  • Get involved with the UK PI committee, which meets by phone every 6 weeks – contact pisupport [AT] debtorsanonymous.org.uk for more info
  • Create a local PI committee with other PI reps from nearby groups, or others from your meeting to do PI activity together
  • Have a stall at a recovery event
  • Approach local health providers, social services, counselling centres and recovery support centres who may hold info events, for either their service users or staff – could you speak at an event?
  • Let others know they are not alone
  • Look out for PI Media training sessions – coming soon!

Answers are feedback from the PI workshop at the UK convention 2015