Working Together - New Group Guidance Sheet

This guidance forms part of the New Group Journey resource.

You can download the information as a word document in the attachment below, or download the whole pack from the new group journey summary page. 


Any group of people that get together for a common purpose needs to get to know each other and develop a common identity and a common way of talking and doing things. This is especially true of organisations like the Woodcraft Folk, where the organisation as a whole has such a strong sense of purpose, and its own traditions and identity. Investing time at the beginning to agree how you will work together is the best thing you can do to ensure the long term sustainability of your group.

 

Set up group communication tools

Woodcraft Folk Communities are a set of web forums for groups to communicate with each other. Once you register as a group, a ‘community’ will be set up for you. This is useful for communicating with your core group - those who are signed up members. You can also upload resources such as rotas and session plans here, and publish comments as public so that they appear on your group page. Guidance on how to use communities is here: http://woodcraft.org.uk/resources/woodcraft-folk-communities-guidance

Your group web page will also be set up when you register. Some details will already be added to your page, but make sure they are correct, and do add information: you could use this as the main way to communicate with parents - as long as you update it regularly! You need to let Folk office know who your ‘webmaster’ will be, and they will give that person access to the editing function of your page.

See Shire Oak’s group page for an example of what can be done:

http://woodcraft.org.uk/where/group/leeds/shire-oak-elfins

Many groups use gmail for managing contacts and communicating with people who aren’t members. Once you have set up a gmail email account you have access to google drive, a suite of online software similar to microsoft office. The main advantage of this is that anyone with access can view and edit documents. Saving a rota or session plan here means that all of your group can add their details, and refer back at any point.

Another option is to use social media such as facebook to communicate with your group. Just make sure that if you create a group for planning that it is administered so that people have to request to join. Guidance on using social networking safely is available here: http://woodcraft.org.uk/resources/safeguarding-relevant-policies-and-templates

  • Familiarise yourself with your group’s Community

  • Create an email address with contact lists

  • Decide on a way to communicate with:

    • your core group of volunteers

    • families who don’t regularly volunteer

    • the wider public who might want to join


Agree how you will all work together

Volunteers work together co-operatively and democratically, to shape the group. They bring different skills, interests and parenting or leadership styles, but a shared motivation to help the group. It is therefore important to work out shared expectations about how to work with each other and young people, and to recognise that the skills for co-operation are developed throughout life, not just when we’re elfins!

 

Woodcraft Folk has developed a set of training materials called Working Together to help groups establish good co-operative working practices. You can download the session plans and resources here: http://woodcraft.org.uk/resources/working-together-training

Many groups use the headings from this new group journey as agenda points at their set up meetings - thinking in advance about a standard format for your meetings will ensure they go smoothly.

It is good practice to share responsibility for the tasks involved in running a good meeting. The person with the most to say is the worst person to chair or take notes in a meeting - they will be busy think about the content of the discussion and will find it harder to keep track of time and whether everyone is having their say. If this is happening, it’s a sign that responsibility isn’t being shared, and someone is probably getting stressed. There is lots of advice out there for how to have constructive and co-operative meetings. If you’re not used to making decisions in a group, investing the time to read through them could be an important step in ensuring the long term sustainability of your group.  

Bored Meetings is a session plan developed by Woodcraft Folk:

http://issuu.com/woodcraftfolk/docs/bored_meeting

Seeds for Change are a training organisation focusing on consensus decison making, and have great resources: http://www.seedsforchange.org.uk/resources

Plan your strategy for promoting positive behaviour at group sessions: acknowledge that all adults will differ in their response to inappropriate behaviour, but make sure you set clear expectations that everyone can agree on. Consistency in the behaviour of adults will be reflected in the behaviour of young people. Ensure all parents and young people know what is expected - run a groundrules activity on your first group night, and make it clear to families that feedback is welcome at any time.Guidance for promoting positive behaviour at group nights is available here:

http://www.woodcraft.org.uk/managing-behaviour

Think about where you meet - at someone’s house might be handy for some, but isn’t ideal for an open meeting. Meeting in a pub is usually free but you might exclude people who avoid places that serve alcohol for religious or health reasons.

  • Set up regular planning meetings

  • Agree how tasks will be split between the group, and write a plan which includes when tasks will be done by

  • Agree how your meetings will run

  • Decide on a venue that is comfortable and accessible to everyone

  • Plan a strategy for promoting positive behaviour at your group sessions

  • Review how you manage behaviour after your first term


Growing your group & the Sustainability Scorecard

There are a number of resources online to support you if you’re thinking about growing your group. You can also use the sustainability scorecard at any point in your new groups journey to check on the progress you are making and plan how you will ensure your group continues to thrive. www.woodcraft.org.uk/resources/group-sustainability.

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