A group provides a voice for the community and it is louder, clearer and less likely to be ignored or opposed if it speaks for everyone. So how can you involve more people across age and background in your group? Here are a few suggestions and ideas.
Invite. Welcome. Communicate. Network. Partner.
Make contact with organisations in your neighbourhood who might not be using the resource or space. Some people or minority groups may feel less confident, even afraid, about getting involved for many reasons including age, race, gender, religion, social isolation or physical and mental abilities.
Make the effort to meet up with them. Do they feel included? If not, what could change?
- Visit a lunch or community club, the youth club, a young families group, an arts group, sports club
- Put your equal opportunities policy into action
- Invite specific groups to your volunteer work days, or host a special reception with drinks and snacks
- Partner with an organisation to run an event together. Other groups (from the LGSFGN) have suggested making partnerships with social landlords, residents associations and third sector organisations, with local schools and sports teams
- Find out what they like or need
- Perhaps one or two could act as representatives without having to be on the committee
- Ask them to organise something specially for their age group at a fun day or park event
- Some groups (from the LGSNF) have worked with young people volunteering and learning skills through The Challenge ‘Headstart’ programme
Share on social media, build your distribution
- Get an article in the newspaper about what you’re trying to achieve
- Circulate news through your local school
- Create an email distribution list and up-to-date website. And pick up the phone!
- Distribute leaflets in your library, social community hubs, cafes, in letterboxes
- Be ready to sign up potential ‘friends’ at every opportunity and where possible have a membership rate (or free) that includes whole families
Different people like doing different things
- Some people are great at giving talks, or writing up history, running a Twitter feed or meeting new people
- Some people love committees, some don’t – make room for difference
- Create sub-groups especially for nature, sport or events
- Create simple achievable tasks for volunteers to do in less than an hour, like leafleting their own street
- Find creative ways for people to be involved, find hidden talents
- If you’re running a Friends Group, be friendly!
Here are a few ideas of events or activities that you could organise for your park or public green space (we are happy to advise…)
- Put on a wildlife event and collaborate with a local wildlife organisation
- A temporary wood fired pizza oven with pizza toppings designed by kids
- A bulb planting day (ask the council if it can cover the cost of the bulbs? or sometimes the MPGA has a bulb giveaway for parks and gardens)
- A table top map of your park made out of cakes baked by the neighbourhood
- Build a temporary bandstand for a concert of duets
- A day of ‘vintage’ games
- Make a trip to another park in the borough or on the other side of the city to get inspiration
- Join in with nationally connected events like The Big Lunch or Love Parks Week
- Organise something as part of International Women’s Day or for Diwali (Festival of Light) or Tree Dressing Day
- Do something with your local school for Science Week or to coincide with TV nature or stargazing astronomy programmes
Good ideas can be shared and borrowed!
- Ask around and see what people want to do, what they want to see and be involved in – don’t make assumptions
- Treat health and safety as a practical essential and not something that stops you before you’ve begun
- People are generally kind and enthusiastic and like to be invited and included
- Diverse communities and ecologies are something to celebrate
- Ask and listen
- Treat people fairly
- Bring out the best
- Deal with problems imaginatively
- Think creatively
- Be open minded
- Get people together across age and background