A public information (PI) walkabout is a great way to carry the AA message in your local area. It’s fellowship, it's fun and it can be very rewarding. It can be done at your local group level or at intergroup level. West End intergroup has begun regular PI walkabouts on the afternoons that intergroup falls.
Who can do it
At intergroup level a walkabout is typically comprised of a PI, employment or health liaison officer and two other AA members from the intergroup. At group level it can be lead by the PI officer if your group has one. If your group doesn’t have a PI officer there’s no reason why two or three members can’t come together to go on a walkabout. We have found that three is the optimal number of people to do a walkabout. This allows you to share making the approach and organise literature. We normally spend 1.5 hours on the walkabout and break it up mid-way with a coffee and a chat.
GSO can supply you with a free selection of different pamphlets and posters. We recommend the smaller sized posters. Email GSO literature by clicking here and ask for a selection of these which they will post out. Before going on the walkabout stack a selection of pamphlets for each organisation along with a poster. West End Intergroup also distributes chips with AA contact details on both sides . These have proved extremely popular when distributed and are available to order from 3rd parties, details of which can be got by clicking here.
Google maps is a great tool for planning you walkabout particularly in urban settings. You can plan you route while checking which businesses, shops and churches are in the area you plan to cover.
Who to approach
Pretty much anyone! Bars, newsagents, businesses, restaurants, churches, hotels, libraries. Do we really go into bars? Yes! We’ve had a very positive response from bar staff.
Making the approach
When making an approach to someone please bear in mind that you are providing information on a number of levels:
- customers/clients of the business or organisation you are approaching who may have problem drinking
- problem drinkers among the staff of the organisation
- problem drinkers in the life of the person you are approaching
- the person you are approaching may be a problem drinker
You never know what impact the information you give out will have or who may it may get to, The important thing to know is that by simply giving out information you are making a difference. When leaving literature with larger businesses you can suggest that they may be interested in placing some posters in their staff room or their canteen.
An example of what to say
Hello, we are public information officers with Alcoholic Anonymous. We are in the local area distributing information about Alcoholics Anonymous and we were wondering if we could leave you with some information on who we are and how people can contact us.
Hi, we are from AA. We are in the area today to make sure that hospitality businesses have the information they need if they think that someone has a problem with alcohol and share information on how to signpost them to AA
Take it from there. It’s usually more than adequate as a conversation opening.
In the West End we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from people we have approached. Occasionally you will come across a person who is not receptive and that’s all completely normal. We move on to the next person and carry the message.
Its’s a good idea to keep a record of what organisations you have approached on your walkabout. One person can do this on their phone along with notes. This serves three purposes:
- you have a record of when and where you visited so that you don’t go back to the same organisation too soon
- you have notes of were you need to follow up
- these notes can also form the basis of a report for your intergroup or home group
Making it a regular event
West End Intergroup has set up a regular PI walkabout which occurs on the afternoon that our intergroup meeting falls on. This provides an opportunity for other members to participate and increase the amount of PI work in our intergroup
Links to recommended reading
The AA Service Handbook, Chapter 1, Public Information
The Twelve Traditions Illustrated