6 months of co-operative leadership

Thursday, 4 April 2019

We (Debs McCahon and Sarah Welsh) are celebrating six months together as joint General Secretary and we thought it about time we wrote to all members giving them an insight into our work, the challenges, successes and demands.


As some of you will be aware, Debs has been involved in the Folk for 11 years and is proud of the progress which has been made – from her perspective, the Folk is bolder today than it has been since the Stop the War Coalition days! We feel clearer about our purpose and the role we have to play in young people’s lives, supporting them to campaign about the issues which are important to them. There is also more guidance and resources for leaders and we are seeking to use what resource we have to address some of the fundamental challenges experienced on a local and national level.


Sarah is returning to the Folk, having previously been a parent helper in Hackney District, and bringing with her a wealth of experience working as Director of Resources for other medium sized charities.


Together we are working to put in place everything needed to deliver our new strategic plan. The new plan, adopted in June 2018, focuses on increasing and widening participation – sharing our aims and principles with more children and young people! This includes testing approaches to reaching out to new communities and making sure Woodcraft Folk remains relevant to future generations.


It is an ambitious plan, but builds on previous plans with a clear focus on growth and sustainability. It is true that the number of groups has reduced in recent years, many merged following the increase in group registration fees in 2016 and others have struggled to recruit new generations of leaders. To tackle this decline we have:


  • Launched the Welcome to Woodcraft Folk campaign, the campaign video of which reached over 27,000 people

  • Attracted funding for new group development projects in Falkirk and East Anglia, testing approaches to reaching out to young people in new communities

  • Updated the leader handbooks

  • Invested in new toolkits and webinars to help more members access training and good practice

  • Appointed a new part-time Trust Fundraiser to increase income and our capacity to meet volunteer needs and respond to the ideas of young members


We have inherited the leadership of Woodcraft Folk at a difficult time – finances are stretched, much of our infrastructure is obsolete, legislative requirements get more complex and the competition for grant funding is greater than ever. Pressures on volunteers are real; from finding enough time, responding to the increasing demands to professionalise group activities to meeting both legislative requirements and parental expectations.


However, we are determined to make progress to support local groups – the key to this is working as one organisation, sharing resources and putting in place the systems and structures to make things more efficient. Over the next few months we will be:


  • Introducing new software to support group administration with the aim of reducing the number of volunteer hours spent chasing paper and to better collect the information needed to claim Gift Aid. It will also help us to all be GDPR compliant

  • Launching a campaign to recruit children and young people

  • Seeking further funding for new group development projects, giving us the capacity to take our aims and principles to new communities


Come along to Annual Gathering to hear more and have your say on Woodcraft Folk’s future.


Speed the adventure