COSHG definitions for types of groups

  1. Self help/support groups are made up of those who come together of their own choosing to address a common issue. These groups may be very diverse in nature and focus but are member founded and member run. The members choose the way the group operates, whether it is a group that focuses specifically on advocacy, social activities, speaker presentations, raising community awareness, campaigning, information sharing or a mixture of these and more.
    Many groups are standalone while others although independent may have access to an umbrella organisation with a specific worker allocated to provide information and other resources but who has no involvement in running the group.
  2. Supported groups are those who are brought together for peer support and are facilitated by a non-member (professional or otherwise) as part of a program or service that is run by an agency or organisation. Participants may have varying input into the content and/or the manner in which meetings are run. On occasion, self help groups will evolve in their own right from supported groups as a means of continuing the value and benefits gained from meeting with their peers.
  3. Online groups can be particularly useful for those who are isolated e.g. geographically or by the nature of their illness. Internet based groups provide an alternative from face to face meetings and have the ability to fill a gap for those seeking others in the same boat which may not otherwise be filled. For example for those with rare genetic conditions where there are limited numbers with the condition in a state, country or globally. Online groups can be a means of communicating, sharing information and experience in order to gain understanding and knowledge from each other in living with their mutual condition.
  4. Intentional peer support groups is a label for a type of group, which appears to be particularly associated with mental health services. To find out more about Intentional groups see: (note there are many other definitions available on the internet).