IDEAS BRAINSTORM - Held on 20th MARCH 2010

Many thanks to 32 general and 11 committee members who made the morning such a success. The lively discussions, held in a friendly atmosphere, were aided by the excellent skills of Bruce Carr, who acted as facilitator and kept everyone focused during the debates. Many topics - under the general headings of strengths, weaknesses and future of the LALG were covered.

Click on the IDEAS BRAINSTORM heading above or, 'Read more' to see a full report.

The main strengths identified were: the monthly newsletter and how belonging to a group can lead to other activities, friendships and interests.

The main weaknesses were: the perception that if you don‟t live in Letchworth you cannot join and the age range is limited - „for over 55s‟. As the 40% of members who are not Letchworth residents can confirm, the first is not correct and whilst the majority are over 55, they are young at heart.

We will hold coffee mornings, including locations outside Letchworth, to which members and non-members will be invited. We will also attend local festivals. These events will be advertised with better posters and information sheets on „Who and what we are‟ to help widen membership.

Another concern was the difficulty of booking a place on a trip. Group contacts are reminded that LALG members should get first refusal for places, with non-members perhaps going on a „waiting list‟. On the other hand, some said coaches were not always full on the day. So remember that although the phone might be engaged within the first hour of trying to get on a trip it may not be fully booked, so always try again, even a few days later. Don‟t give up too soon!

It was also mentioned that some groups are full so that new members cannot join - don‟t forget you can always start another branch of a group. Wine tasting, for example, now has three groups. We can give advice and assistance on how to start up a new „branch‟ of an existing group.
During the debates two main areas of concern emerged and, therefore, more time was devoted to discussing them. They were:

  • How to encourage more „group leaders‟ to come forward and suggestions of what to do with the £4,000 excess funds we hold at the moment.
  • How can we encourage more „leaders‟ to come forward?

It was agreed the role of group contact/leader can be a difficult one, especially when not shared within the group, so we all need to try and give more assistance.

At present new groups have an initial meeting with two long serving committee members - William Armitage and Veronica Tomkins - who give guidance on how best to arrange meetings and trips and how to get like-minded people to set up a viable group. They will also help if a group seems to be in danger of closing if a longstanding group contact steps down.
Solutions suggested were:

  1. A list of venues for hire & costs; coach company details; & equipment which LALG owns.
  2. We have started the process of more contact between groups and committee members by „allocating‟ each group a committee member to act as first point of call for advice and assistance.
  3. Group contacts are already invited along to committee meetings, but we will aim to ensure all groups have committee meeting details. This means contact details have to be correct - so if you don‟t get the information let us know.
  4. Members said how last years‟ group contact meeting and the Big Picnic and the Ideas Exchange were all very useful to meet others and discuss things with them. We will arrange more inter-group meetings. In the meantime similar groups could set up their own joint meetings or events, e.g. Pudding Club/Wine groups.

What should we do with the £4,000 excess funds?
We will keep some as a „safety buffer‟ against sudden or steep increases in printing and postage costs but the most popular ideas were:

  1. Purchase new display boards to replace the old and damaged ones.
  2. Improve posters and information leaflets and then widely distribute.
  3.  Occasionally produce a bigger newsletter with colour pages and more local information.
  4.  Arrange a special event for our silver jubilee in 2010.
  5.  Consider a leaflet drop, via free newspapers, to encourage new members.

Raised under the „What next‟ heading, was the formation of a general social sub-committee to arrange LALG group events, e.g. trips to the coast, adventure day, a day at the races - the possibilities are endless. We will ask members to join the sub-committee at the September AGM, so plenty of time to consider how you might help run this side of things.

Many thanks for reading this report, which shows members are keen to voice their views and the committee are keen to ensure you know we are listening; after all we are also members of the various groups. That being so, many of the measures mentioned above, such as coffee mornings, will place a greater call on the time of the committee members, so a gentle reminder that the LALG is run by members in a spirit of self-help and we hope everyone will play their part in continuing to make it a success.
If you couldn‟t join us but have an idea or comment you wish to put before the committee then please feel free to email me at, or speak to your Group contatct who can pass your views on to the committee.



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