Usually residents’ associations are community groups made up of local people acting in a voluntary capacity to promote and defend the interests of residents in their area.
Why start a residents’ association?
There are a lot of reasons residents join together to form an association. They are often set up when a number of people in an area want their homes or local services improved. For example:
- To have a representative voice to influence decision making that affects your and your neighbors’ homes.
- To give advice and information to residents
- To increase the sense of belonging to a community
- To campaign on certain issues ie planning issues
Residents’ associations can:
- Provide a collective voice for residents in an area, act as a focus for consultation and an organisation to lobby for changes
- Offer advice to local residents and represent them collectively when dealing with authorities
Residents’ associations hold regular meetings open to all members in the the area, but conduct their business through a smaller committee. The strength of any residents’ association lies in the involvement of local people in the activities of the group.
Residents Associations should:
- tell members who to contact if they have a problem
- represent the views of their area
- work to improve their area by negotiating with us
- keep members informed through meetings,newsletters and so on
Committees are simply ways for bringing people together to consider problems and make decisions.
It is elected by the members of the residents’ association to carry out the work of the association. The committee organizes general meetings of all its members, and the group’s Annual General Meeting, and must carry out the decisions made at these meetings.
The committee has delegated authority to make decisions on behalf of the group, It is important that these decisions get reported back to the full membership. This can be done in a variety of ways including newsletters, members’ meetings, and public meetings.
There is no set way of organising a committee but there are ways of working that are more common and useful than others. Try and make sure that the committee is representative of members represents
Role of Committee Members
A committee member may not have any special title or task, but their presence on a committee is just as important as that of the office bearers. Some duties of the ordinary members are as follows:
- Attend meetings
- Support the work of the association & committee
- Take action on tasks given to you
- Vote on issues
- Assist with projects, fund raising etc
- Abide by the decisions of the group
- Encourage membership
- Listen to each other
- Feedback to the committee
- Aim towards constructive discussion and decisions
- Help with advertising, distributing pamphlets etc
- Put forward ideas
- Make suggestions
The chairperson is the person who makes sure things get done – not the person who does everything.
There are two basic jobs the chairperson should do:
- guide the association to achieve its aims
- chair the meetings of the association
Some of the duties of the chairperson are:
- know the constitution
- liaise with the secretary on the agenda and meeting arrangements
- welcome members and introduce guests
- ensure fair discussion
- stop anyone taking over, dominating discussions
- sum up problems, points, decisions
- keep order/ensure a chance for all to have their say
- get through the agenda on time
- help prepare agendas
- ensure decisions are carried out
A good secretary must be reliable and efficient. He/she will pay strict attention to matters of details and ensure prompt replies to letters coming in.
It is important that the secretary’s name, address and telephone number are
well publicised with organisations that want to make contact with
Before a meeting:
- an agenda for the meeting should be prepared in consultation with the chairperson
- a suitable venue for the meeting should be arranged
- a notice of the meeting and agenda should be sent to all committee members so that they will receive them at least a week before the meeting is arranged
- The secretary must keep a complete up to date set of minutes
- Ensure that all correspondence has been dealt with, and when necessary, obtain replies for the next meeting
- Keep an accurate filing system
At the meeting:
- Keep a record of everyone attending the meeting . Apologies for absences should also be recorded
- Ensure that a quorum is present before any business is done
- Read the minutes of the previous meeting (unless already sent out) and obtain the chairperson’s signature for the official copy
- Read out all correspondence received and report any action taken since last meeting
- Ensure that the chairperson is supplied with all the necessary papers and information relevant to the meeting
Associations should make sure a treasurer is appointed to handle the
money coming into and going out of the group.
- The treasurer should keep a clear and accurate book-keeping system and should be able to handle figures
- The treasurer is responsible for the proper handling of the finance of the organisation, but not the actual raising of money
- The treasurer will be one of three officers of the committee authorised to draw out money
Normally two out of three of these signatures are required when money is withdrawn
Before the meeting:
- The treasurer should prepare a financial report before each meeting
- The treasurer should check members have paid their subscription (if applicable) and ensure all approved bills are paid
At the meeting:
- The treasurer should present a report of money paid into the account
- The treasurer should bring all the account books to the meeting so that he/she can answer any questions
- The treasurer should advise on the amount of money available for the group’s work and warn of excess expenditure
- The treasurer should prepare a statement for audit prior to the AGM
- The treasurer should present the balance sheet and financial statement at the AGM after they have received the audited accounts
Keep Everyone Involved
Every residents’ group has to work hard at keeping people involved. If your organisation is to be strong you must make constant efforts to keep your membership informed and to get wider involvement.