downarrowSection menu

Setting up an online support group

This guide is a working list of resources to help groups set up and run online events. We will continue to improve it and welcome feedback and suggestions via

1. Defining the need

Working out the aims of the online meetings and events can help answer all the other questions and choices you will need to make:
• What are the aims of the group?
• Identify who you are supporting
• Recruit and invite people to join the group.
• Perform a technology audit with your participants to determine how to connect to people
• Establish a long-term strategy: Will your service be online, offline, or a hybrid of both? 

Resources on Community Makers website:
Insight: Starting small
Insight: Persuading carers to give it a try

2. Skills

Make sure you have the digital skills and support you need to run an online meeting, which include:
• Facilitating online meetings
• Helping others to use the software
• Defining roles and responsibilities
• Agreeing protocols and etiquette for online meetings

Resources on Community Makers website:
Insight: Facilitating online meetings
Insight: Helping others use the software
Insight: Getting to grips with online meetings  

3. Equipment and Technology

Making sure you are set up with the best available devices and apps will help people get involved and have a good experience worth returning for.

Resources on Community Makers website:
Choosing the right software platform
Working out what devices people are using
Including people without devices  

4. Managing risk

To protect yourselves and your members, as well as meeting regulations, you should have the following policies and documents in place:
• Duty of Care: Risk assessment for physical well-being of participants
• Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
• GDPR, Fair Processing Notice & Consent

External resources: > GDPR > DPIA

5. Getting started

The first events can be the trickiest as everyone gets to grips with the technology and protocols. To help with this:
• Test the tech with each participant
• Set expectations and make people feel comfortable
• Set an agenda or activity
• Co-design the service with participants to meet their needs: appropriate frequency, session lengths and group sizes

Resources on Community Makers website:
Insight: Getting to grips with online meetings
Insight: Helping to make getting online accessible
Template: Virtual Choir
Template: Arts and Crafts club