When I came into Alcoholics Anonymous 6 years ago, defeated at depth, I was exhorted by those who knew better than me – and that was the majority – to ‘get a sponsor’ , ‘get into good habits early’ and ‘get into service’. Through simple desperation I asked for a sponsor and continue to be sponsored by the same person today, believing that her experience of working the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous has saved my life.
I didn’t understand the concept or importance of ‘serviced’ at that time, and needed to be shown. Firstly by the examples of my sponsor and the old-timers and then by obedience to spiritual principles, which continue to propel me forward when my natural desire is to stop. My homegroup strongly believes in, and practised the importance of, the service structure within AA and I was encouraged to work through the service positions within my homegroup from day one. I was sponsored into each new service position by the outgoing member, which gave me confidence to proceed. This has stood me in good stead and given me the stability and purpose in a previously directionless life.
My sponsor knows that the world is a safer place if I am not idle and she encouraged me to attend Intergroup, as an observer, long before I was fit for service there. This enable me to become familiar with the structure and format of Intergroup, which helped tremendously once I was voted into office. In due course I reached a point in my sobriety where I was able to apply for the position of Employment Liaison Officer. This was initially discussed with my sponsor, then at the group’s Steering Committee and then the nomination forwarded to Intergroup.
I was required to produce a written CV of my service history and present this to Intergroup where nominations were heard. At that time, I had 3 year’s continuous sobriety, which complies with the guidelines printed in the AA Handbook for Great Britain, which suggests a minimum of 2 years sobriety for this position.
The aim of Employment Liaison Officer is to reach the still suffering alcoholic in the workplace. In order to achieve this, I obtained a copy of the 100 largest firms in the South West, from the library, concentrating particularly on those in and around Plymouth. The firms are contacted on a rota basis, firstly by phone and then with a letter to the Human resources Manager, or equivalent, enclosing copies of:
- AA at a Glance
- The problem drinker in Employment
- Standard letter offering to collect newcomers, take them to meetings, meet personnel or give talks to the workforce
- Stamped addressed envelope to post box.
All contacts are documented and filed and these files are updated regularly, ensuring calls have been made to each company, availing them of our Services. We re flexible in our approach to this and adapt our needs to others still suffering.
I work closely with the Chair of Plymouth Public information and am a member of the PICPC, sharing information and knowledge and attending regular PI meetings, as well as Intergroup. I submit a two-monthly written and verbal report to Intergroup and PICPC, to whom I am accountable, as this is considered a commitment and I am a trusted servant of the Fellowship.
To be effective in this role, I sought the guidance of the outgoing ELO who shared his experience and, along with my sponsor, is on hand to support me. The period of office is 3 years and is a fulfilling, useful and privileged commitment which continues to keep me sober, one day at a time.
Gail M, Road to Recovery, Plymouth