Working Together

You're in one of the main sections of Woodcraft Folk's New Group Journey training module. The most important points to remember are listed first, and following that is a fuller explanation of what you need to do in this area. There are many different ways of doing things in Woodcraft Folk, so we've included only the essential guidance in this module, leaving you to develop your own methods to suit your group.

Links to individual resources are in bold green, and you should read each of these for a full understanding of good practice. Links to other pages of the website are in non-bold green.

Use the Ask for Help link to request help on a particular topic, or request a Twin group with whom you can share ideas and joint activities.

This module works alongside a checklist, timeline and guidance sheets for you to print out and work through. Download the working together guidance sheet.


Key things to remember:

  • Decide on a way to communicate with: your core group of volunteers; families who don't usually volunteer; the wider public who might want to join
  • Set up regular planning meetings either termly or half termly
  • Check in with each other regularly about how tasks are divided up 
  • Once you've been up and running a while, check how you're doing using the sustainability scorecard

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

Being able to communicate regularly with volunteers and parents who support your group is very important. You'll need to let people know group meeting times and places, ask for people to commit to helping at specific group nights and plan meetings and events. Someone should maintain a rota of who is doing what at each group night.

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. As long as everyone is a member of national Woodcraft Folk and is attached to a particular group and District, they will be automatically added to the related Community. Read guidance on how to use communities

 

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.

You should keep a list of people's contact details and check with each person whether they're happy for these details to be known to everyone in the group. 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. Have a read of the social media policy before you start.


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. There is also a shortened 'bitesize' working together session plan - why not use this as a prompt for discussion at one of your planning meetings?


Meetings

Make sure you are having regular planning meetings - termly or half termly is best. 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.

Seeds for Change are a training organisation focusing on consensus decison making, and have great resources.

 

There are resources on our volunteer recruitment page that are designed to encourage parents and volunteers to share tasks evenly. 

 

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.


Behaviour

Its normal during sessions to feel nervous about 'telling off' other people's children, especially when their parents or carers are in the room too. This makes it especailly important to discuss your strategy for managing behaviour beforehand. 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. Our managing behaviour web portal is full of guidance and session plans to help.

Ideally, the person leading a session or game shouldn't have to spend time trying to engage disruptive or distracted children. If the adults supporting can take on this role, the activity can go ahead and the rest of the group will continue to be engaged. 

 


Sustainability Scorecard

You can use the sustainability scorecard at any point in your new group journey to check on the progress you are making and plan how you will ensure your group continues to thrive.


Feel as though you understand how it works? Take the quiz

Or go back to New Group Journey homepage