Setting up your group
First things first - Get a team together (many hands...)
Who to involve?
Often groups start with a few friends with ideas in common, but this isn’t the only place to look! Ask Unlock Democracy and we will provide you with details of other Unlock Democracy members in your area. It’s also worth checking for other local organisations with similar interests and getting in touch with their members. It’s also worth contacting local councillors, MPs, journalists and community leaders to let them know what you’re doing. They might be able to spread the word and suggest people who may be interested in joining the group.
Your first meeting is an opportunity to find out how everyone involved wants the group to work. Decisions about how you organise will be an ongoing process: sometimes things will change and you’ll need to be flexible.
Whether you are a new group or a long-established group, it is important to take stock of what you want to achieve and what being a local group means to the members. It is especially important when starting out, but should be done regularly. A new person joining creates a great chance to reassess how the group is working while finding out what the new member would like.
Ask yourselves: who are we? What do we have in common? What do we want to do?
Sharing the workload
One of the worst things you can do is try to take everything on yourself. People want to feel a part of something and this comes from feeling they genuinely have something to contribute and are appreciated for. You can do this by distributing tasks and delegating. For instance, if there is a specific task list including contacting potential speakers for an event or finding a venue, you can spread it around to a few people. It will also help to assign some roles in your projects. You might find you need:
Meeting Chair (someone to organise your meetings)
Social Media coordinator
Central Office Liaison
Remember that all groups are unique and the roles you create will depend on how you work. Keep the structure of the group relatively flexible – remember different people have different time constraints and it is important to be able to work around these. It may be worth asking around the group if they are happy with their roles or would like to help with something else every month or so.
Also bear in mind that just because you’ve started the group doesn’t mean you need to remain the main organiser. There are loads of different reasons why anyone might at one day choose to stand aside. This is why it is important to ensure that everyone takes on a role and keeps notes on how they do things so when the time comes to hand over, the new person will have an idea of where to start.
It doesn’t need to be all activism with your group. Sometimes it’s nice to take a bit of time out and socialise together. Sometimes the best ideas come from informal chats, too!
And remember, if you ever feel like you need a bit of support in running your group, get in touch with us.