Local groups grow to a third of SoA membership in 2020/21

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
Almost a third of our membership now has a local group in their area – with new groups set up across England, Wales, Scotland and Germany over the last year.

Image © Dedraw Studio

Being an author can be a lonely business, and often means working in isolation. Our growing network of local groups have been expanding over the last few years across the UK and abroad with the aim of bringing members together. Local groups are run by members for members and hold regular informal meet-ups and events.

Almost a third of our membership now has a local group in their area, and from April 2020-21, our local groups hosted 164 online events. We’ve now launched a new section on our website for members to see whether there’s a local group in their area, find out how to set up their own group, and check out our resources, ideas and tips for running a group.

Over the last year, 14 new local groups have been set up, including in the Cotswolds, Chilterns, Manchester, Germany, North Wales, Putney, Shropshire, Dorset and beyond. Since the pandemic, members have been gathering together online for informal socials, topic-lead talks, panel discussions and knowledge-exchange sessions.

Steve Holloway, who set up the Chilterns Group at the start of 2021, commented:

I have enjoyed getting to know other authors and sharing our experience. Each has a fascinating story. We are, essentially, a ‘community of practice’ sharing the craft of writing. I think the core of what makes our group work is relationship; having an environment where we can talk about our experiences, hopes and challenges. We laugh a lot, have fun and learn from each other.

Simon Michael, who runs the Manchester Group, added:

I receive a lot of emails from members expressing their thanks for the very fact that the group exists. Writing is a lonely profession at any time, but during the pandemic many of us, particularly those living alone, have found the meetings a lifeline to share experiences and how the pandemic has affected our work and writing process.

Travelling from a large geographical area into a central location was not easy for many, especially in the winter and for some older members. Zoom has also opened up the group to those who didn’t initially join because meetings were too distant; we have 60+ members, up from the 16 who attended the first meeting.

Want to see a local group in your area?

We want to help connect more members in their area and create local author communities to learn from and support one another. Fancy seeing if there’s a local group in your area that you can join? Check out our new interactive map to find out.

If there isn’t a local group in your area, we can help you get started. There are still areas where we would like to help see local groups flourish, including in Leeds, Liverpool, York and more. Our network of local groups is run by volunteer organisers, so if you’re interested in setting up your own group, let us know where you’d like to see a group (including any postcode areas) and we’ll let you know the number of members living in your area and gauge interest.

Join our growing local network

10 January 2022

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