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Starting your own community group

Do you have the same hobbies and interests as your neighbours? Do you want to address local issues or concerns in your community?

A community group is a group of people who have a mutual interest or similar circumstances and goals. They are normally made up of local people some of whom will be directly involved with the running of the group by being a committee members.

  • Step 1

    You need to have a good idea of exactly what you intend to do. Here are some questions to consider:

    • Will your group offer a service to a community or will it solely benefit its members?
    • What are the aims of the group?
    • What do you want to achieve?
    • What geographical areas are you going to cover? 

    In order to move onto the next step, you will also need to have gathered at least two other people who are committed to your group. This will make up your management committee. You will need to have a discussion about the different roles on a committee – Chair, Treasurer and Secretary being the main ones. See 'useful documents' tab below for more about committee roles.

    Who will you work with?

    If you are providing a service then you may want to identify a specific group of people with whom you are going to work, for example people affected by a specific issue or living in a defined area. If you are going to work with several groups, then you need to think carefully about any possible conflicts of interest. You should also think about what area you will cover - for example, will you only cover a specific local neighbourhood or a whole town or city? Be realistic with your resources and where you can make the most impact. Don't try and overstretch yourself.

    Are you overlapping with other groups?

    Once you have put in some consideration on how it might work, you need to research and find out if there are any existing groups that do similar kinds of work in your given area. It is much harder to find support and funding if you are duplicating what other groups are doing.

    So make sure that your big idea is new or unique in some way before you start. If there are already groups doing the same work, perhaps you could get involved with them.

    If you have a new idea and are ready to go, can you work with other organisations to create something new or benefit from their experience and connections? If you are in a similar geographical area, then you could perhaps share premises and work together for the benefit of both groups. 

    Contact the Customer and Community Engagement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email customer.involvement@stockporthomes.org to find out what other groups may already be operating near you.

     

  • Step 2

    Once you have at least three people who are committed to running your organisation you need to decide which legal structure will best suit your organisation. Your legal structure can have a huge impact on any future activities, such as fundraising, trading or contracting because your legal status is closely linked with how you are governed and regulated. It can also affect your legal rights as an organisation. 

    Unincorporated

    If you are a community group, local club, or association that is not registered with the Charity Commission, your type of organisation is known in legal terms as an ‘unincorporated association’. This means that even if you have your own name as a group, you are simply a group of people coming together under a shared interest or activity and you have no separate legal identity. Since your organisation is not a separate legal entity in the eyes of the law, individuals take personal liability for any risk or debts and you cannot enter into any legally-binding contracts in the organisation’s name.

    Registered Charity

    If your organisation has charitable aims (as outlined in the Charities Act 2006) and is for the benefit of the public, you might like to register as a charity. The Charity Commission regulates and administers all registered charities in the UK, offering much guidance through their website. 

    Registering as a charity is not a legal form in itself. In order for your organisation to become a separate entity in the eyes of the law, organisations must become ‘incorporated’, choosing a legal structure that is right for them. The following ‘incorporated’ forms introduce the main types of legal structures within the voluntary and community sector.

    Contact the Customer and Community Engagement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email customer.involvement@stockporthomes.org to find out more!

     

  • Step 3

    Each legal structure has a governing document also known as a (Constitution, Trust Deed or Memorandum and Articles of Association or The Rules) relevant to it. 

    Your governing document is like a set of rules and includes things like:

    • What the charity is set up to do (objects).
    • How the charity will do those things (powers).
    • Who will run it (charity trustees) - your charity trustees (also known as your management committee or board).
    • What happens if changes to the governing document need to be made (amendment provision).
    • What happens if the charity wishes to wind up/close down (dissolution provision).
    • How the charity trustees will run the charity.
    • Internal arrangements for meetings (such as your Annual General Meeting).
    • Voting procedures and financial procedures etc.

     

    Unincorporated Basic Constitution

    Registered Charity

     

    Small Charitable Constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association

    Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)

     

    Memorandum and Articles of Association

    Industrial and Provident Societies (Or Cooperatives)

     

    The Rules

    Charitable Incorporated Organisation

     

    Small Charitable Constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association

    Social Enterprises and Community Interest Companies (CiC)

     

    Memorandum and Articles of Association

    Charitable Trust or Foundation

     

    Trust Deed

     

    You can read more about each type on the Charity Commission website as well as download a model (or template) of the governing documents mentioned above, that will help you to save time having to create your own. 

    When your committee is satisfied with your governing document you then need to ‘adopt’ it. This simply means to sign and date it. You are nearly there now!

  • Step 4

    When you have decided upon your legal structure and adopted your governing document you will also need to set up a bank account with a minimum of two named people responsible for signing any cheques. These two people must not be related. 

    You also need to ensure you have a clear and robust financial system and need to ensure that your group is as safe from risk as possible. 

    It is up to your management committee, board, or trustees to identify and manage risks for your organisation, as well as understand their own legal obligations because there are certain types of activity where insurance is required by law. Your trustees, for example are responsible for approving your organisation’s approach to risk management and deciding what risks to insure against and when. It is their responsibility to make sure that your organisation has the appropriate insurance cover for any work or activity carried out.

    Finding the right type of insurance will depend on the size of your organisation, type of work, where the work is carried out, number of staff or volunteers, etc. 

    Common types of insurance include:

    • Public liability insurance, buildings insurance, contents insurance, event and appeals insurance and professional liability insurance.

    You may also need to get certain policies in place.

    A policy is a principle or rule that guides decisions toward a particular outcome. In this case it is generally your organisational approach (or position statement) to a particular issue. Some common policies are Equality and Diversity, Health and Safety (including risk assessment), Safeguarding Adults and Safeguarding Children 

    For advice and information please contact the Customer and Community Engagement Team at Stockport Homes on 0161 474 2862 or email customer.involvement@stockporthomes.org

  • Useful documents

 

 

 

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Page last reviewed 21/03/2017