S.L.A.A. UK Statement: COVID19 considerations for restarting face-to-face meetings

(Acknowledgement: we have used some of the guidelines from AA as a starting point and adapted and supplemented them for SLAA. We acknowledge and thank AA for the work in putting their initial guidance together and making it available)


Firstly intergroup would like to thank all members for their continued hard work and service that allows us to continue with meetings, fellowship and to carry the message to the sex/love addict who still suffers. Although we have adapted well to online meetings, we recognise the desire to return to face-to-face meetings and their value. As a fellowship, we now need to begin to understand the necessary guidelines and requirements associated with returning to physical meetings.

We hope you find this statement a useful tool to guide your group conscience discussions safely, and to ensure that your group and its members act in accordance with the law and Government guidance.

“Each group is autonomous,” we often note when making group decisions. The second part of the 4th Tradition is just as important: “except in matters affecting other groups or S.L.A.A. as a whole.” Tradition 1 tells us “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon S.L.A.A. unity.” These traditions remind us that we must ensure that our group decisions do not negatively impact our fellow members or S.L.A.A. as a whole and that we as individuals act in ways that ensure our common welfare. Traditions 1 and 4 are important now more than ever. We should always consider the health and well-being of both S.L.A.A. members and non-members, as well as protecting the positive reputation and goodwill of S.L.A.A. in the community.

We advise that groups carefully consider how they will manage and mitigate the risks before deciding whether to return to face to face meetings. This is due to the potential consequences of not following the law and government guidance, the differences in the guidance in various regions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (e.g. local lockdowns), and the frequently changing situation (e.g. introduction of new restrictions at very short notice).

At an individual level, it is important that you do not attend a meeting if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Here are some questions for groups to consider before starting a face to face meeting again

  • Has your venue done a risk assessment? If so, what are your venue’s rules and policies in terms of distancing/tracing and how will you ensure that your group complies with them?
  • Are you following the law and government guidelines in your area?
  • Contact tracing:
    • In the event that someone in your face to face meeting tests positive for COVID 19, how will your group help local health officials do contact tracing? Will you keep a record of each attendee at each meeting so they may be informed if someone has tested positive?
    • If so, who will hold this list? At what point will the list be destroyed?
    • Do all attendees consent that their name may be given to contact tracing officers?
    • Note: It is not necessary to break another member’s anonymity for contact tracing. Members may simply say they met as friends or as part of a spiritual gathering.
  • Is the venue large enough to ensure social distancing is in line with government guidance at all times? How will your group calculate the maximum number of people permitted in your meeting space? How will your group ensure that this maximum is not exceeded?
  • How will your group ensure face masks are worn where appropriate? Will your group provide masks, sanitizing gel and wipes?
  • Will your group require members to have temperature checks, for instance, at home before the meeting, or even at the meeting?
  • How will your group sanitize contact surfaces before and after each meeting?
  • How will physical materials (Steps, Traditions and Concepts banners, literature, meeting and phone lists, etc.) be handled? What about the set-up and breakdown of a meeting? Can physical meeting materials be replaced with virtual ones?
  • Will your group eliminate the distribution of refreshments?
  • How will Tradition 7 contributions be collected? Electronically? Only accept coins that will be put in a pot in the middle of the room, which can then be disinfected?
  • What will be your group’s policy if an attendee is openly sick (e.g. coughing or feverish)?
  • How will you handle newcomers who want to attend a face to face meeting if there is no longer any space in the room to admit them? You might ask, for example, if any “old timers” are willing to leave early and go to fellowship in order to make space
  • Is the group going to maintain an online presence for those who prefer to Zoom or are unable to attend the face to face meeting (e.g. due to geography or physical reasons)?

Hybrid Meetings / Separate Physical and Virtual Meetings for the same group

1. Hybrid Meetings

If your group is considering making a physical meeting accessible via Zoom or another electronic platform, we suggest procedures are put in place to alert physical attendees that the meeting is being broadcast via a virtual platform, and how anonymity will be protected when doing so. Meetings should not be recorded, and the guidance/suggestions above should be considered in relation to the physical element of the meeting. Could your meeting use a projector so virtual and physical members can see each other?

2. Separate Physical and Virtual Meetings for the same group

An alternative is to hold separate physical and virtual meetings of your group to try to ensure that S.L.A.A. is available to all those who need it. If your group is planning to return to a face to face meeting, although not always possible to accommodate everyone, we recommend that groups consider those who have become regular attendees via Zoom but who would be unable to meet face to face.

Public Liability Insurance

The UK Augustine Fellowship has Public Liability insurance. This is often required by meeting venues as a condition of access to the room etc. as it covers them for any potential damage to the room or personal injury claims for example. Should you need a copy of our insurance then please contact treasurer@slaauk.org. We have checked our insurance position in regards to COVID-19. The insurer has confirmed that:

“We would expect the groups to establish effective protocols to implement all relevant guidance and procedures developed by the Government for the prevention of the transmission of COVID-19. The Public and Employers Liability insurance provided by the Methodist Insurance Charity Shield policies would protect the interests of the groups were they to be found legally liable for bodily injury, which would include contracting COVID-19, subject to the relevant policy terms and conditions.”

In Loving Fellowship

SLAA UK Intergroup