STEP 8: Arrange your first Community Meeting

Once you have started to build up a list of local People you have had direct contact with who are interested in supporting what you are doing and in taking part, the next step is to arrange your first Community Meeting.

Holding Community Meetings is the METHOD to achieving Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE.

For the first meeting, aiming to have as few as between 30 and 50 local People in attendance is likely to be all you need.

This means you won’t have to wait too long before you can be confident of numbers, and it is likely that there will already be a pub with a function room or a Community building of some kind that can be booked either free of charge or for a very modest fee.

The chances are that you will already have somewhere appropriate in mind.

Booking a room

Most Meeting Rooms that can be booked by members of the Public will have information about booking them online.

Look up the details and check the availability. But only proceed if you are happy with the terms of hire and that you already have the funds available to cover any Room Hire Costs.

Please avoid any venue that requires a Room Hire Fee, if you cannot cover the cost, if someone has not already volunteered to pay or donated the fee, or you haven’t already received enough in any Crowdfunder you may have set up.

A pub will be just as good as a dedicated Meeting Venue, and with the difficult times that we are all experiencing right now, you may find that your local Pub Landlord will be very receptive to the idea of having a group of local People come in!

Wherever you decide to hold your first Community Meeting – don’t go ahead unless and until you know that the venue management is happy first!

When to hold your first Community Meeting

It is essential to make it as easy as possible for as many members of your local Community to attend EVERY Community Meeting that you hold.

In time, it could easily become clear that enough People are available to attend meetings at a different time. But in the first instance, you are most likely to have the biggest attendance possible if you arrange your first Community Meetings on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening, with a focus on the main business being conducted between 7 and 9pm.

Please avoid any dates when you know that there is any kind of event, like a local school parents evening or a big sports event on TV that will draw People’s attention elsewhere.

In time, it won’t matter. But to begin with, this will be the most effective way to get the maximum number of local People involved.

Make sure you let EVERYONE know

Whether they attend any of your Community Meetings or not, it is important that you let everyone in your Community area know and provide notice of when and where the first one will be held.

You don’t need to drop leaflets or contact everyone directly when every Community Meeting that follows is held – as a notice by email or across all of your social media platforms for these will do.

However, for any subsequent Meeting arranged when any important decisions will be agreed – and in particular, when a Vote upon candidates to represent the Community in Elections is going to be held, you MUST make sure that everyone has been told.

It doesn’t matter if some People choose not to attend, or for some reason are unable to do so.

But it is essential that when something important is happening, EVERYONE in the Community has been informed or what is happening and has been offered the opportunity to be involved.

You only need to have put a leaflet through every door. But you must be sure that this has happened, so that no matter whether you have had direct contact with every household in your Community area or not, EVERYONE has at least been made aware.

If you cannot achieve this for any reason, you should not go ahead with any meeting where any important decisions are made.

Otherwise, it is always possible that someone can say that they haven’t been informed about what your Community Meeting is doing, and that could cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the whole process.

The legitimacy of your Community Meeting can only be guaranteed if it is clear that everyone had a choice to get involved.

That said, don’t worry if you experience an existing Politician or someone like them or linked to them making accusations that they weren’t told what was going on.

As long as you know and can confirm that everyone has been contacted, they won’t have a leg for their argument or accusations to stand on.

Something important for you to bear in mind:

When you book a Meeting Room or Venue, it’s really important that you check that the owners or managers are happy for you to hold a Community Meeting.

There is nothing wrong with what you or any of us are doing.

However, many different Community buildings will be under the control of People like existing local Councillors, and People just like them, who are heavily invested in the current System and the way that it all works.

Many of them will not want to be seen to be supportive of what you are going to do.

They will make any excuse to stand in your way or object to your use of what is a Community owned asset that was actually intended for just the kind of purpose you intend to use it for.

If you come across People who behave like this and misuse their position and the responsibility they have been entrusted with, you are just experiencing the kind of behaviour that Officially NONE OF THE ABOVE is working to remove from everyone’s way.

In the meantime, don’t sweat it or worry about it if small-minded and selfish people try to get in the way. There are plenty of other options and plenty of other ways to succeed.

Things to be aware of:

You do not need to have everyone signed up or committed to attending when you have your first Community Meeting. But you do need to have at least taken every step possible to ensure that they are aware.

Holding your first Community Meeting and then reporting back to other members of the Community about it will almost certainly prove to be a very useful way to help get even more People involved in the future.

So, it could be a good idea to be working on STEP 8 as soon as you start – as long as you are confident doing all the things you need to, and in keeping the momentum up too.