Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When to Close Doors to Participants at Workshop

A coworker and I had a great turn at a scam awareness workshop we ran a few weeks back. Five minutes into the workshop we had 8 participants. We didn't tell reception when to stop sending people and folks kept coming in. We didn't expect even ten people to show up. After an hour and a half 20 participants were in the room with at least five of them coming in after the first hour. The atmosphere was hectic and lively and everyone seemed to enjoy the discussion, information and role play.

On my end, my impression was that with a few more clients we would've passed our capacity to be able to give adequate attention to clients everyone. It would've been too crowded. For some workshops we ask for RSVP -- obviously we didn't for this case (though RSVP is still not the best indicator of how many people show up the day of). The fact I didn't expect that many people affected my lack of mental preparation meant I wasn't mentally prepared for such a large group. My immediate response afterward was: We need to close the doors to participants after a specific time -- again, something we have occasionally (though not consistently) enforced in the past. Or close the door after the first certain # of people come in.

But then I wondered -- do the advantages of allowing people to come in very late exceed the drawbacks? Is it better that a client spend even 20 minutes (of the total hour and a half) and share or learn something rather than him not having had the opportunity to participate? This is a vulnerable population who truly benefits from these educational opportunities. And many folks have legitimate mental or physical health disabilities that affect their punctuality. Am I punishing them by closing the doors 30 minutes into the workshop? Sure, It's not unlikely that we'd offer a workshop like this again, or for that matter another agency would. But in general clients' participation is fickle and there's the advantage of them participating while they're already here. Hmmmm.

1 comment:

antiSWer said...

If you're working with a vulnerable population, I'm all about reducing as many barriers as you can. I think it would depend GREATLY on the topic of discussion...