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Community groups

Wooden blocks which spell the word support

Are you thinking of setting up a community group?

If you're a group of people who want to work together to organise small or informal community activities, using a budget of less than £5,000 a year, with no employed staff or leased premises, then setting up a community group is probably right for you.

This is also known as an unincorporated association, which you don’t need to register, like you would for a charity, and it doesn’t cost anything to set up.

It must be noted that individual members of the group will be personally responsible for any debts and contractual obligations.  However, as there is often little money involved in running small community activities, it means the risk is normally very low.

There are many different examples of community groups / unincorporated associations, including:

  • Parent and toddler sessions

  • Family fun days

  • Befriending activities

  • Knit and natter groups

  • Community gardens

  • Coffee mornings and lunch clubs

  • Music events

  • Sports clubs and community competitions

  • Litter picking and environmental maintenance projects

  • Walking or active lifestyle sessions

  • Good Neighbour Schemes

  • Talk Community Hubs

Before you set up your community group, it's important to consider a few points.

  1. How do you know there is sufficient need and demand for your group? 

  2. Will your community benefit from your intended activities and events?

  3. Who can help you establish the group?

The best way to answer these questions is simply by talking to people!  Why not try:

  • Visiting an existing community centre or initiative.  Your local Talk Community Hub could be a useful starting point, especially to find out what is already available in the local area

  • Chatting with your neighbours and their friends

  • Talking to people in the local shop or pub

Remember to speak to a diverse group of people, not just those you think will be interested in your group.  Keep track of this information too, as it could be useful for fundraising or grant applications.

Now you've decided you want to set up a community group and you've carried out your preliminary research, there's a few steps you need to take to turn it into a reality.

The following is a guide only, as what you do and the order you do them in, will depend on the type of group you're setting up and the community you are working with.

  1. Hold an initial meeting: Ideally this should be a public meeting, but it doesn't have to be a formal one, you can make it relaxed and informal.  It's an opportunity to bring everyone you've spoken to together and for other interested people to join in and contribute.

    To find out more about holding community meetings, visit the Resource Centre website.

  2. Discuss and agree the aims of your group: This will ensure everyone is working towards a shared vision and aims.  Take time to get this as precise as possible, incorporating as many voices and views as you can.  Once your aims are established, the next step of writing your constitution, will be much simpler and straightforward.

  3. Write and agree your constitution: This is also known as your governing document and it's designed to set out how your group is run.  It also enables people and new members to understand what you do and the group’s purpose.

    There are no regulatory laws for an unincorporated association, but it's still important to get the wording of your constitution right, to ensure it accurately describes your group.  You will also need a constitution, if you want to open a bank account.

    There are are number of templates available, which you can use as a model for your constitution.  To find out more, visit the Resource Centre website or contact HVOSS (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations' Support Service) for additional support.

  4. Decide who will do what: You need to ensure you delegate tasks to different people, because running a community group can quickly become overwhelming, if everything falls to one person.

    Most organisation's start by delegating key roles, such as:

      • Chair: Leads on planning, group and stakeholder communications and keeps everything on track

      • Treasurer: Responsible for all money matters

      • Secretary: Responsible for administration, keeping records of meetings and discussions

      • Committees: You may also decide to form various committees, with other group members and volunteers, to oversee different aspects of your activities

  1. Open a bank account: It's likely that you will need some form of funding to help run your group, regardless of the scale of your group’s activities.  To open a bank account as a community group, you will need a constitution / governing document.  This helps to ensure that all money is kept safe and dealt with in a transparent manner.  It will also enable you to apply for grants and funding.

    There's additional information available on the Resource Centre website.

Now you've set your community group up, you need to ensure it's sustainable and you can keep it running.  The following suggestions could be useful.

Fundraising: This might be essential in order to keep running your group's activities.  It also gives you the opportunity to engage with the wider community and reach out to new members.  Community fundraising events, such as fun days or sponsored challenges, are all ways to promote what you do, help people have fun and top up your funds at the same time.

The Easy Fundraising website has an extensive list of fundraising ideas to try.  You can also apply for funding from various local and national organisations, which are listed in our funding section.

Stay connected: It's important to connect with your local community and remain visible and approachable, to help new members and volunteers join you.  Whether it's an open meeting, public event or a simple coffee morning, which you can invite people to come along to, it's important to keep engaging with them.  Why not drop into other community groups and centres or find out about local network meetings and events, which you can also attend?  You can keep up to date with different events and activities across Herefordshire, using the Talk Community what's on calendar.

Get connected: You've connected with your local community, it's now time to connect with a wider support community across the county, through HVOSS (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations' Support Service).  HVOSS can help with training, support / funding events, volunteer meetings and community networking.  To find out more and get connected, visit the HVOSS website.



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