Q: To contribute do I need to run the current development release?
A: It’s the only way to guarantee your fixes and packages build and work as expected in the development release that is currently being worked on. UbuntuDevelopment/UsingDevelopmentReleases explains how to do this in a safe way.
Q: I’d like to meet with a couple of friends to have a go at fixing a few bugs. Do you have suggestions how to best do that?
Q: I want to start contributing by fixing bugs. Where do I start?
Do 5 a day - every day! https://wiki.ubuntu.com/5-A-Day