Case study: starting a new group

Margaret O'Byrne from Norwich Thorpe Hamlet talks us through the evolution of her group and what it's like to start a new one.

About 9 years ago I started a Venturer group with a friend. Initially someone just approached me and asked if i would like to bring my daughter to a group and possibly help run the group. At the beginning we met in someone's house and it was all very girly and craft based. Later we transferred to my house and soon the group was too big and we moved on to a local school. As we grew my eldest daughter stopped attending but my youngest continued and so i kept attending as a leader. Over the years the group has also changed and we developed Elfin and Pioneer sections.

Prior to going I had never heard of Woodcraft Folk and if I am honest it was some years before I grasped what it was all about and this came from camping and meeting other more established groups. We have three groups at the moment and our Venturers have about 10 - 14 members.

Getting new members is always a bit difficult but not as difficult as getting helpful adults! We do encourage parents to stay with the younger groups (a selling point with me and my eldest daughter who was very attached to her mum) and this is useful as gradually the parent can be given something useful to do and often end up helping with the group.

My advice to anyone starting is to get others involved so the group does have a chance of surviving and developing. We really enjoyed being in my house and it gave the group an intimate feel. The advantages were that we could cook - I have a big kitchen and children seem to love it. We are now in premises where we can store stuff and this is important. We have been lucky as a group because we always go to Latitude festival and this is a real draw for a number of our members (adults and children).

Our group is varied and we have a number of refugees who we found through personal contact and ringing social services. The children are from different schools but friends bring more friends. Our main ambitions for the coming year are to recruit more children and adults but mainly to carry on enjoying our group and the young people in it.