Guidelines for Groups

 

This page provides guidelines on how to set up and run a LALG group or activity. An indication of the information available in the above tabs is given below:

  • Setting up a new group
  • The group support team
  • Running successful meetings and group activities
  • Finding a suitable venue
  • Managing group finances with examples
  • Insurance and the assessment of risk
  • Rules to be followed by group members
  • Safety checks of group activities with examples
  • Importance of online security to avoid unwanted bugs and viruses
  • Protecting the personal data held by a group
  • Disaster-proofing a group by having plans for possible emergencies
  • How to get help if a group is running into dificulties
  • Booking trips and managing ticketing
  • How to organise coach trips or holidays
  • How to arrange group publicity
  • Ensuring there are no equality issues - LALG is open to all
  • Links to useful internet sites inside and outside LALG

 

Setting up a new group

The Support team (Support tab) are responsible for encouraging the growth of new groups. They may be able to attend and even run your first few meetings. The following checklist contains items to consider when launching a new group.

  • Use the website, social media and the newsletter to invite anyone who is interested to leave their contact details at David’s Bookshop.  Provide an email or telephone number for William /prospective group contact as an alternative.
  • Decide who will run the group after the setting up period. You need a Group Contact to act as at least an information point. It might help to note down the key elements of the role.        
  • Consider how many members are needed to make the group viable. This will vary.
  • Ask prospective members how often they’d like to meet, and daytime, evening or weekend? Try to avoid overlap with other similar groups unless they are already full.
  • Identify a potential venue and check availability. Try (Venues tab) for some ideas.
  • Work out costs and a charge per meeting. The group will need to be self-financing and the constitution prohibits an extra subscription charge by groups.
  • Ask leaders of similar groups for advice.
  • Make sure you understand and apply data protection rules.
  • Draft a programme for the first few meetings. 
  • After the first couple of meetings, ensure that all participants are paid up members of LALG.
  • Consider having a dedicated bank account if significant monies and changing hand on a regular basis. Check the financial advice (Finance tab).
  • Consider having a new email account for the group contact – particularly if there needs to be more than one person managing the group via email or your personal email is joint with someone else.  A group email address reduces the risk of your personal account being hacked.

 

 

Support team

Thank you for volunteering to run a group or activity for LALG, without your support we could not continue. All LALG groups are supported by the following team:

William Armitage 01462 643537

George Barnes 01462 673710

Jacquie Croot 01462 337283

Astrid Hansen 01462 337991

Val Quieros 01462 512580

Steve Green 07710 542803

They are available to give help and advice to all those running groups and organising activities.  Please get in touch if you need to.

Running successful group activities

Most people come to groups to enjoy a specific activity in the company of friends. The Group shares responsibility for making meetings successful. Successful groups:

  • Welcome new members; perhaps accompanying them or assigning a ‘buddy’ informally or rotating them amongst established members so no one feels an outsider.
  • Cherish existing members, for example sending a message when someone is away ill.
  • Plan ahead so that each meeting is well organised and participants know what’s happening.
  • Notice if membership is falling and act to attract more participants.
  • Notice if any ongoing arrangements need to be improved.
  • Ensure that the group remains financially robust.
  • Share the workload and responsibilities among the group, having people to bounce ideas off makes it more inclusive and fun.
  • Makes sure it complies with the LALG Equal Opportunity Policy (link – still to be written!)
  • Makes sure it understands any accessibility issues and meets them within reason.
  • Further information on chairing a meeting click here.

 

How to find a suitable venue

  • Once you have established the size of your group and whether specialist equipment is needed you can start to search for suitable place.
  • Look at the monthly newsletter which will show where similar groups are meeting
  • Local council websites give details of halls available to hire; including in North Hertfordshire the Mrs Howard Memorial Hall and Jackson Community Halls in Letchworth
  • For a comprehensive list of venues in Letchworth click here.
  • For information on The Settlement click here.
  • For information on Fairfield Community Hall click here.
  • For other areas try a google search!

 

Finance

Your first stop for advice or assistance with financial matters is the Treasurer email: treasurer@lalg.org.uk.

  • Groups should be self-financing.
  • However, the LALG Committee may give up to £50 for initial set up or other exceptional costs.
  • Appoint a treasurer and set up a simple method of keeping track of income and expenditure. 
  • If significant sums are involved, open a bank account. Many banks and building societies offer a “Treasurer’s Account” or similar which is aimed at small groups.
  • Alternatively you can ask the LALG Treasurer to handle the money. Have cheques made payable to “LALG” with the group or event name on back.
  • If you plan an activity outside the usual for the group, please speak to the Treasurer if additional funds might be needed.  If agreed you will be asked to complete a summary sheet and return it with receipts. 
  • All groups’ financial records are subject to scrutiny by the LALG Treasurer if requested.
  • Money held by a group must be donated to central LALG funds if the group closes.
  • If a group closes temporarily the LALG Treasurer will retain any funds until the group restarts.

Financial management

Some group contacts have been managing their finances successfully over several years.  This guidance is for those who are new to the role or who seek some additional help.

LALG groups will differ in their record keeping requirements and some groups will have no need for any at all!   If you take subscriptions or other financial contributions from your group, you will need some way of accounting for them.  This enables you to keep track of how the money you have collected has been spent and to avoid the group running into financial difficulties.  You may wish to appoint a treasurer who does this on the group’s behalf.

For more information on financial recording with examples click here.

For guidance on dealing with budgeting, prepayments, contractual arrangements and uncertainty in the numbers that may attend an event click here.

For money handing and after event actions click here.

 

Rules on being a member

  • All participants should be members of LALG. You could consider asking to see their membership cards once a year.
  • New participants can come a couple of times before deciding whether to join.
  • Members accept personal responsibility for their own insurance.
  • The membership fee entitles everyone living in the household to participate in all LALG activities providing a group is not full although a fee may be payable for some activities; this will be made clear in the newsletter.
  • Carers are able to come to events free of charge when they are supporting an LALG member.
  • In case of doubt you can ask the Membership secretary to check that people attending your group are LALG members by sending her a list of names and addresses.
  • See also the LALG Constitution by clicking here

 

Safety Checks

Everyone wants to enjoy LALG events and to feel safe.  We have devised some checklists to help people organising activities.  Please take time to read the one most appropriate to your event and adapt it as necessary.  It is a condition of our insurance that organisers have thought about the risks and done their best to manage them. The checklist enables you to do that.

Click on Cycling or Walking to see example checklists.

To obtain an Incident Report Form use Downloads below.

 

Insurance

LALG holds insurance which includes cover for people on group activities if the group contact has thought about the risks involved and done their best to manage them.  For many groups risks will be minimal but we have provided safety checklists for some which carry more risk such as cycling and walking, click here to access these examples.

 

IT Security

To avoid passing unwanted bugs and viruses between the computers and mobile devices of your group members please make sure you have up to date virus protection enabled. This may already be loaded on your device but you should check this out. Let members of your group know if you think you have been hacked or your online security otherwise compromised, using another method to contact them.


 

Data Protection - key things you need to know:

New data protection legislation was introduced in May 2018.  The definition of what is personal data remains the same to include anything that can identify an individual: contact details, membership number or photos. 

We can only collect data which we have a valid reason for having, and for which we have the owner’s consent to using. Sometimes explicit consent is not needed because it is obvious. Under the ‘contract’ that members have with LALG we do not need their consent to communicate with them but even so we have to provide clear and simple information about how their data will be stored and used.

We must keep data safe. If it is online it should be password protected. If it is a paper record, it should be kept private and when possible locked away.

When we no longer need the data, for example after an event or when a member has left the group, we should safely destroy it.

The full LALG Privacy Statement can be found by clicking here.

 

So how does this apply to you as a Group Contact?

  • As a Group Contact you probably have a list of people in the group. Make sure you only have data that you have a valid reason for having. For example, if you will never email members don’t collect email addresses. 
  • If you meet in each other’s houses you will need to collect addresses.  Consider whether you should send a list to everyone in the group or just put the details for the next venue on the call up.
  • You should tell group members that you will abide by LALG’s privacy statement which can be viewed at www.lalg.org.uk/privacy.  If they prefer a paper copy they should contact the secretary secretary@lalg.org.uk or via the contact details in the newsletter.
  • If you intend to use the data for anything other than running the group you will need the explicit permission of the owner.  For example, you can only take and store an image such as a photograph or video if you have the explicit consent of the members involved.
  • You need to review how safely you are storing the data you hold. Take steps to avoid data going to anyone else. This includes within the group: so when emailing several members, use the bcc facility unless you have explicit permission to share those email addresses within the group.
  • Any data that you no longer need should be destroyed safely and securely.  This also applies if you step down as group contact.  LALG has agreed a two year retention period for data.
  • It is best practice to add a footnote to any booking form, email or leaflet saying:                    
    • I will safely store your name, phone number and email address and will only use them to manage the group’s activities and to contact you about group events.  Add address if you use this to contact people or meet at each other’s houses.
    • If you give me your consent I will add your /phone/address/email address to my mailing list for other communications which might be of interest to you. You can withdraw your consent at any point by contacting me. 
    • Only if relevant to your group, If you give me your consent I will take photographs/videos of group activities which might be used on public sites such as Facebook and the LALG website for promotional activities.

Non Members

Sometimes people who are not members of LALG join us at events or activities.   If we collect data from them, we should also tell them how that data will be used. 

For example, on a booking form or email:

I will safely store your name, phone number, email address, address (delete as applicable) and will only use them to manage the LALG event ………………. add details.   The principles outlined in the LALG privacy notice apply and can be found at www.lalg.org.uk/privacy.

 If relevant you can add:

If you give me your permission I will store your details and use them to send you future information about LALG events.

 

Disaster-proofing your Group

  • Don’t wait for an emergency. Make use of the support team (Support tab) and the LALG committee has systems in place so that LALG can continue to run smoothly through ups and downs. Groups can make similar plans. Here are some ideas:
  • Make sure that there are at least two people who know how to run the group.
  • Keep a written record of key information that would be needed if the main organiser was unavailable.
  • Consider appointing a deputy who can take over as group contact if needed.
  • Have one or two alternative venues in mind, in case of need.
  • Keep a small amount of funds available to see you through temporary leaner times.
  • Watch the group membership and consider emailing people you haven’t seen for a while.

 

 

Rescuing a Failing Group

The committee can offer support (Support tab) to groups that are struggling to attract or retain members. Contact any committee member as soon as you suspect a problem. Please tell William Armitage or Steve Green. They can help by offering any of the following:

  • Temporary group leader
  • Publicity boost
  • Financial support
  • Practical help and advice

Money held by a Group must be donated to central LALG funds if the Group closes.

 

Organising a coach trip or holiday

  • Check the proposed date on the LALG calendar to avoid any clashes.
  • Work out a budget and a timetable so that you have sufficient time to publicise your plans and to collect money etc. Budget for being 80% full.
  • Have all arrangements and costs with providers confirmed in writing.
  • Give the LALG Treasurer at least a week’s notice of any advance payments (deposits etc.) or to provide funds for payments needed on the day.
  • Make clear your cancellation policy and deadline (e.g. only refund if substitute found or no loss incurred).
  • Charge non-members of LALG more than members and arrange that booking is open to members earlier than non-members.
  • Maintain simple but clear accounts and submit a final statement to the LALG Treasurer.  See Finances.
  • Have cheques made payable to “LALG” with event name on the back. See Trips.
  • When booking a coach, check that the driver knows the route and whether they have been there before. Provide written instructions (preferably with a map) on the precise location of the venue and coach parking facilities.
  • Exchange mobile phone numbers with the driver.
  • Once on the coach identify yourself as the leader. It is best to use the PA system and to make sure that you are audible.Ensure that passengers are clear about the time and location for departure on all legs of the journey. It may be advisable to stand at the coach door and remind people as they disembark. Remember timings are longer with a coach-load of people.

Give passengers a handout beforehand, and again on the day listing:

  • All key timings, venues and activities
  • Arrangements regarding food
  • Mobile phone number of organiser
  • Any advice on dress code, security checks, what to bring etc.

Coach Hire
Groups wishing to hire a coach for an excursion should make the necessary arrangements themselves. There are some experienced tour leaders in LALG who may be contacted for advice via the Secretary, including about which operators are recommended.

  • It is advisable to be clear with the coach operator about the seating capacity; more seats can mean less leg space.
  • Pricing of trips is the responsibility of the organiser.  It may be prudent to budget on the basis of say 80% of seats being sold.
  • It is usual to give the driver a tip and it may be easiest to factor this into your price to avoid going round with the hat.

Running a social event

Guidance to follow. Any contributions welcome.

Running a quiz

Guidance to follow. Any contributions welcome.

 

Ticketing and Booking Trips

The Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on Station Road provides a free and highly competent Booking Office service. They can either sell tickets for you or collect names of people interested in a trip.  Please help staff by approaching them in good time.

Selling tickets:

  • Agree arrangements before the first publicity of the event;
  • Print out enough tickets. A template is available from the Publicity Officer publicity@lalg.org.uk. You might wish to number them. Include the member and non-member price;
  • Obtain an Event Booking form by using Downloads below. Provide details of the event, refund conditions/deadline and a contact number for staff in case of questions. Include a column for the number of tickets bought, amount paid, the buyer’s name, and their membership number.
  • Periodically call at the TIC with ID to collect the takings and ask for a copy of bookings so far. Please let them know the day before so that they can be ready;
  • Pass takings to the LALG Treasurer if applicable.  Cheques should have 'LALG' and the event name written on the back.

Collecting Names:

  • If you are using TIC to collect names of people potentially interested in an activity:
  • Agree arrangements before the first publicity of the event;
  • Provide an Event Booking form (see Downloads below), with details of the event, and a contact number for staff in case of questions;
  • Make sure that you ask for Member’s details, so you can contact them to advise if the event is happening;
  • The TIC will also act as a collection point for cheques for the event, if it goes ahead.  Alternatively, people can pay direct to the LALG bank account.  Contact the Treasurer for details of how to do this treasurer@lalg.org.uk.

 

Publicity

Groups often need to engage in publicity – for example: promoting events, attracting new members, asking for help – and some groups choose a small number of their membership to focus on this.

All publicity should provide a positive, respectable and well-run image of LALG, and adhere to the Publicity Policy. The publicity team are always ready to help you.

Newsletter – month by month entry

The Group contact is responsible for putting details of the group’s activities in the monthly newsletter.  Email a Word document to lalgnewslettereditor@hotmail.co.uk by the 10th of the previous month; earlier is always welcome.

Be as concise as possible and follow the style guidelines provided by the editor. 

If you would like to be featured on the front page or in a special advert, contact publicity@lalg.org.uk or William Armitage 01462643537.

Social media

To help build local awareness of LALG’s broad range of activities, please consider sharing your Group’s news on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Keep your entry short but cover all relevant points.

Photographs should be well executed and captioned; make sure you have the permission of those in the photo.

For any help with social media, email facebook@lalg.org.uk

The LALG website

The Website is important as it is an open site and thus potentially the first point of contact by those seeking information about Letchworth.

The Group contact is responsible for putting details of the group’s activities on the group’s web page. If you do not yet have admin access, contact website@lalg.org.uk.

A beginners guide to the website.

The Website can be accessed at www.lalg.org.uk

The upper row of buttons gives access to generic information on LALG and those in the lower row to the Groups in each category. Placing the cursor over a grey button opens a drop down list of the groups, and moving the cursor down and clicking on one opens the selected Group’s Page.

  • Each Group Page contains a general description of the aims and activities of the Group and any other information which does not change frequently.
  • The Group Logo is usually included and photographs can be added (with the permission of those featured) as plenty of space is available. An aim of this page is to attract new members.
  • On the right-hand side of the display there are boxes which provide: a search capability (to search the whole Website), the Group Contact and future Group Events.
  • Future events for many months can be added, typically until the end of the calendar year. This is useful for regular meetings, e.g. Sports Groups for which the details do not change.
  • The date of each event is automatically entered in the LALG Calendar.
  • Information on past meetings, including photographs, can be presented on the Group Page beneath the heading More News and Pictures.  Many groups use this to keep a record of meetings and significant events.  

Posters and Fliers

  • Include LALG logo and LALG Arts and Leisure Group in Broadway font.
  • Ask someone who is not involved to read your draft poster/flier and comment constructively on whether it is clear, concise and complete.
  • Keep a note of where you display the poster(s) and remember to remove them when they become out of date.
  • For any help with poster design contact publicity@lalg.org.

 

Equality

Letchworth Arts and Leisure Group (LALG) is open to all. We aim to provide our Members, volunteers, supporters and suppliers with equal respect, regardless of any personal characteristics, including: age, disability, gender, marital status or pregnancy, race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin), religion or belief, sexual orientation, class or socio-economic status.

The Equality policy can be viewed by clicking here.

 

Useful Links