Oxford has three meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous a week hosted at the McInnes Room in the Warneford Hospital. There is one meeting on Thursday at 1930 and two meetings on Sunday at 1800 and 1930. The first at 1800 is a Beginners meeting and the second meeting at 1930 is a Big Book meeting.
The Beginners meetings helps people new to Alcoholics Anonymous to explain about alcoholism and the techniques used by the fellowship to recover from Alcoholism. It is not necessary to attend the beginners meeting when starting your journey in Alcoholics Anonymous. You can make a start at any meeting however some people like going to the beginners meetings as it is nice to be with others just starting out so you can offer each other support and share experiences.
A Big Book Meeting is a meeting where the Group works it way through the book called Alcoholics Anonymous. This book is also know as the Big Book. The Big Book in its first 164 pages explains and shows how alcoholics can recover from Alcoholism using the 12 Steps. The rest of the book contains the personal stories of people who describe their journey out of alcoholism and how they have recovered.
If this is your first time attending a meeting let us reassure you that no appointments are necessary as all meetings are conducted on a drop in basis. We would advise of turning up 10-15 minutes early so you can get a cup of Tea or Coffee. Don’t worry if your are late; half a meeting is better than no meeting.
Please find below some of the histories of the meetings at the McInnes Room at the Warneford Hospital.
McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington
The group was started at the request of Dr Tony Williams. I believe the late Cyril (Wantage) and Voddy R. were instrumental in starting it at the Ashurst Clinic. In 1970-71 when the new Ley Clinic opened, the meeting moved there.
I remember that in 1969 the Secretary was a man from Dublin called George, who each Thursday gave a chair on what the chair had meant to say – which was longer than the chair itself! In 1969-70 there used to be a group of anti-AAs who sat in the foyer of the Ashurst and ‘slagged’ people going to the AA meeting, calling them chickens, brainwashers, etc. I think their main complaint was that they had been banned from attending as day patients at the clinic because of their drinking.
Ken H. was Secretary of the group for many years when it moved to the Ley Clinic. In the early days patients often came straight to the clinic from Oxford Prison as well as from the Simon Hostel and Littlemore Hospital, especially from the old and first drying out unit known as B8 in Littlemore. There was never a dull moment at the meetings as you invariably had practising alcoholics attending. I remember the late and loveable Frankie S being bribed to leave the meeting as he insisted on playing his mouth organ.
In 1985 the alcoholic unit moved to the Warneford where the meetings were held in a room which was my old ward – happy and unhappy memories. In recent years the meeting moved upstairs to (alas) a non-smoking venue.
Barry W. (November 1999)
This is no longer a purely alcohol unit but deals with addiction generally with the inevitable result that fewer patients come directly to meetings. However contact is maintained between the group and the hospital. All meetings are open as has always been the tradition of this group.
Beginners’ Sunday 1800
McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford.
Formed January 30, 2000
The Secretary at the first meeting was Simon P. and, after the Preamble, he asked for the first paragraph of Chapter 3 of the Big Book to be read out. Everyone was then asked to introduce themselves and say how long they had been sober; if it was more than a year they were asked to say ‘sober more than one year’, regardless of how many.
Simon then introduced Bill from Buckingham to share. It was recommended to listen to the similarities not the differences. Afterwards Simon shared briefly then called out names for people to share. The first and last speakers were over one year and everyone between had under a year’s sobriety. The meeting was attended by 21 people and closed at 7 pm with the Serenity Prayer.
The inspiration for this meeting came in part from a tape by Frank Milos of Evergreen Park, Illinois, given to Peter K. and Robert S. by their sponsor. The theme for Frank’s talk was Spirituality Through the Steps. The vivid description he gives of how it is (and was) for many of us planted the seed for this meeting. He tells of how they started a beginners’ meeting before the main one of his home group. He starts his talks by telling newcomers that most of them won’t make it, and most of them get mad at this. They don’t do anything different from any other meeting but use the truth, the Big Book and enthusiasm.
Peter K. (March 2000)
From all accounts this is a meeting where most newcomers find it especially easy to share.
McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford.
Formed August 1975 (Holyrood)
The meeting originated at Holyrood House, South Leigh, near Witney, in August 1975. This was a Psychiatric Hospital dealing with alcohol.
In 1977, when the hospital closed, the meeting moved to Littlemore Hospital which housed the Alcohol Unit run by the local Council. Due to reorganisation the unit was relocated to the Chilton Clinic at the Warneford Hospital, Headington, in 1985. The venue was a spacious room on the ground floor (the Detox patients’ common room actually). One member had been a patient in the unit in 1958 and then it had been his bedroom! Members of the Fellowship were invited to show the AA video and give a talk to patients as part of a three-week course.
In 1993, again due to reorganisation, the meeting moved to its present venue, the McInness Room on the first floor of the Warneford’s main hospital building.
David P. and Kevin B. (June 1999)
In December 2002, it became a Big Book study group