Setting up a residents’ association
A residents’ association can make a real difference to your community. It can give you the opportunity to address issues of community concern and be the ‘voice’ for the residents within your local area.
The first thing you need to consider when setting up a residents’ association is what the group hopes to achieve. The following questions may assist you in this process.
What issues do you want to tackle?
Consider whether the group will tackle one specific issue or tackle a range of issues.
How big an area will the group cover?
Research other residents’ associations and what areas are already covered.
How to make your group grow?
Any group of three or more people can set up a group. For most groups, membership is open to anyone over the age of 16. Consider the options to recruit members. Talking to residents in your area to see who would like to get involved. Leafleting, put up posters in community areas. Launch a website.
What skills do members in your group have?
Consider the skills required to help the group to achieve its goals.
What help might the group need and where can you get it?
Research available funding streams to find funding and speak to local businesses.
Type of residents’ association
Once you have a good idea of the group’s goals, you need to consider how you want the residents’ association to be set-up and run – as an informal or formal group. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You do not necessarily have to make this decision now.
Setting up an informal residents’ association is ideal if you want to improve the local area, as an example. They are particularly suitable if you are working to a low budget, as they cost little to nothing to set-up and run.
A formal residents’ association is more suited to groups that tackle serious issues, as they have certain rights. For example, a formal residents’ association that represents home owners living in a certain area should be consulted when the council want to spend money on improvements or change how they run the area. These groups are more difficult to set-up, as there are more criteria to meet
To establish a residents association, you will need to:
- Form a committee, with an elected Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer and committee members.
- Adopt a constitution.
- Keep certain records and documents, like an up-to-date list of members, any other rules of the association.
- Setting up the initial meeting
Once you are confident that there is an interest within your local area and residents are committed to get involved, you will need to plan the first meeting. The key points to consider are listed below.
The purpose of the meeting?
Be clear about why the meeting is being held and what it aims to accomplish.
Setting the date and time
It is important to consider timings when setting up the meetings, consider conducting a questionnaire to find what date and time suit the majority.
You should give people at least one week’s notice of the meeting.
Some people may be afraid to come to meetings alone, particularly at night. You may want to consider offering a service to accompany people to and from the venue.
If you have decided to invite representatives from other bodies e.g. the council, contact them and check they can attend.
Find a suitable venue for the meeting
Contact your local hall or find a room to hire. Venues should be wheelchair accessible. You may want to consider hiring a venue that has a children’s play area to enable parents to attend the meetings.
Advertise the meeting
Before setting up a residents association, you should consider the ways you can publicise and inform people of events and issues. Do you have the financial support to produce leaflets, posters, newsletters, hire a meeting room? If you are working to a low budget, it is worth checking the ways you are able to raise money, such as holding fundraising events, accessing available funding streams. This information is not always readily available; you can contact the local council who can assist you or contact the organisation directly.