The first thing to say is that AFRA encourages all residents to be activists in their community: to take an interest in the environment, public services, issues of anti-social behaviour. These matters all affect our quality of life – and if you leave it to someone else to do something, then very often nothing ever gets done.
The second point to make is that you can form a group in lots of different ways – we are not prescriptive, because realistically it is wonderful when people voluntarily give up their time to do something positive – in any way that they can. Not everyone loves a committee!
Once you do set up a ‘more formal’ group, remember that this sets out the rules, such as annual elections, consulting your members and other matters, including finance. Your reputation is on the line if you don’t abide by these rules – and any poor behaviour or disregard for these rules can also affect your local community.
Formalities and how to go about them….
If you do choose to work with a group, again: there are many different forms.
Some of the groups we work with are fully formed and constituted with a set of rules and procedures to help them work together.
Others are looser and meet informally, which is actually the model for AFRA itself. This allows us to meet with a wide range of people representing resident voice, from individuals with a passion for a better community to senior politicians and public service managers.
If you do form an Association, the model will rarely go as far as a legal charity or registered company – it is more likely to be similar to other shared interest groups such as sports clubs which generally use a model which is known as an unincorporated (not legally registered) association. There is plenty of guidance out there on the legal side – what we can offer from AFRA is three things
- Support and advice – please do contact us if you want some help with action needed in your community
- Introductions: we can link you up with other groups, local councillors and useful contacts
- Ideas and models: we have included links below to a general introduction by the Peabody Housing charity and a sample of a residents association constitution from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham – with thanks to both organisations.
Whatever your interest in your community, we wish you all the best!