Governance & Legal

We can help support your group to develop or strengthen your governance. We recognise that many local environmental and friends groups are loosely organised and aren’t keen on bureaucratic arrangements. Our level of support varies depending upon your specific needs. Our experience, and academic research, has shown that poor constitutions are a root cause of many governance problems.

We have a variety of template constitutions that we can provide and/or tailor in partnership with you, to suit your group. Constitutions needn’t be complicated and painful to develop, but they do ensure your group is protected, as well as the committee, and the group’s members/beneficiaries.  We can help you with advice, so contact us.

There are some useful materials on the internet, e.g.:

There are a number of useful books in SWLEN’s Library and which we recommend via the SWLEN Google bookshelf. If you are interested in reading more about governance of small voluntary organisations there is an excellent, if old, report “A Lighter Touch”, Kumar and Nunan (2002) published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.


If you have any legal queries we suggest that you speak to us first. We have a good working knowledge of legal issues that groups and charities come up against, but, in the event that we are not able to answer your queries, we can signpost you to the best source of help. Useful sources of information and support include:

  • The Government’s Legislation website – a good guide to all legislation
  • Get Legal” a website developed by NCVO and lawyers Bates, Wells and Braithwaite which deals with choosing a legal structure at the set up stage
  • A number of books about the law affecting groups and organisations in SWLEN’s Library and recommended in SWLEN’s Google Bookshelf
  • Courses run locally and in Central London by various providers that deal with legal issues – we can recommend suitable ones