Identify the needIdentify the need

Before you formally setup your group there are a number of steps you should take in order to ensure that you don’t waste any time or effort in the future.

The first thing to do is to find out if you really need to set up a new group. You need to consider:

  • What service does your local community want and need?
  • Who is the group for – will the group offer a service to the whole community or will it only be for members of the group?
  • What will your group do? What type of service will it provide and how will it help the local community?
  • What area will the group work in?

It’s important that you check that there are no other groups in your local area that are currently doing the same thing that you want to do. If there are, you might not get any funding for your group or the support you need from your local community.

Check with the council and ask friends and neighbours if they know of any other groups in your area offering a similar service. You could also check on the Internet or at your local library.
If there is another group that you think is offering a similar service to the one you want to offer, go and meet with one of the members from the group to find out what exactly they do and if it is different from what you want to do in your group.

If it is very similar, you might want to think about joining this group, rather than setting up a new group.

One great way to find out if your group is needed is to hold a public meeting.

Holding a public meeting
You could hold a public meeting to listen to what your local community think about the service you want to offer. If you decide to hold a public meeting give yourself plenty of time to organise and advertise the meeting.
Here’s some tips to make sure the meeting is a success:

  • Pick a venue that people can get to easily.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to organise the meeting and advertise it as widely as possible. You could use social media or flyers in local shops or halls.
  • Make sure that everyone who needs to be there knows about the meeting. It’s best to get as many people as possible to give their views at the start when you are deciding on what service you want to provide and to who.
  • Clearly outline the service you want to offer during the meeting and encourage people to tell you what they think – good and bad.
  • Ask someone to take notes so you don’t miss anything later.
  • If there is agreement in the meeting that a group is a good idea, ask for volunteers to form a steering group to get the project up and running.
  • Arrange to meet these volunteers as soon as possible after the public meeting so you can keep them interested.
community planning consultation