Freedom from Torture - Local groups

Local groups

We're always there to give guidance and support, but it's up to the groups themselves to put on events and come up with brilliant ways to support our work. Some events have been tried and tested by other groups so we can put you in touch with each other to share ideas and experiences.

Why not check out our Events section to see what local Freedom from Torture group events are coming up near you.

Local groups

If your patch of the UK doesn't have a group yet, why not be bold and start one? Contact Sabine on snierhoff@freedomfromtorture.org or call 020 7697 7749 and we'll give you the help you need to get started.

'How to' Group Information

Setting up a local group

Across the UK, committed groups of supporters help to raise funds and awareness about the work of Freedom from Torture. Being part of a local group can be an incredibly rewarding experience as it gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people in your area and to make a major contribution to our work.

We currently have over 20 active groups across the UK. They’re a talented and dedicated bunch who together raise over £70,000 a year!

Get in touch                    

The first step in starting a group is to get in touch with us - using our contact form or call  020 7697 7749 to speak to our Local Groups Fundraiser who will tell you more about the process and the resources and support available.

We will send you an information pack to help you attract members in your area, including leaflets, posters, special appeals and copies of our supporter magazine, ‘The Survivor’, as well as our latest Annual Review and Local Group newsletter.

Getting started

There are many things you can do to develop the group and attract new members:

  • Get together with one or two others who share your concerns about human rights, torture and the difficulties faced by refugees and asylum seekers in the UK
  • Mention your idea to friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances
  • Post a flyer on notice boards at community halls, cafes, shops, doctors' surgeries, libraries and other community centres asking for people to contact you (just let us know if you need help designing or producing the flyer and don’t forget to include contact details such as a telephone number, address as well as our website address so people can find out more: www.freedomfromtorture.org)

Growing your group

We can send out a mailing to all the Freedom from Torture supporters in your area telling them about your plans to set up a group and asking them to contact you.

Insurance

Public liability insurance for local groups' activities and events is provided by Freedom from Torture, which covers hiring venues and organising activities.

Here to help

Our Local Groups Fundraiser is here to help you at every stage in the process of forming a new group. Please get in touch on  020 7697 7749 or email snierhoff@freedomfromtorture.org for more information or if you have any questions about starting a group.

Your first meeting

The first meeting can be really important as it will show people what they can expect from the group and it can often determine whether they will come back again. It is therefore important that you plan your first meeting well. If possible, the Local Groups Fundraiser or another member of Freedom from Torture staff will attend your first meeting to provide support.

Once your group is set up

After your first meeting and once you have your first interested and committed members, you can start planning your activities and what you want to achieve in the months ahead.

How we can help you

The events and activities you are planning will depend on the size and capacity of your group, the expertise, skills and special interests of your members as well as your local area, the availability of venues, and many other factors.

While local groups are primarily responsible for the management of their events we can help you with the following:

Promotion and marketing support

The main existing channels for marketing include The Survivor magazine, which is published three times a year, our events listings, promotion via Facebook and Twitter and our e-newsletters.

We can also provide you with template flyers, empty-belly posters, certificates and event invites.

Event specific marketing, including assistance with mailings and press releases

  • Mailings - data protection issues prevent us from releasing our database directly to our Local Groups, but if you would like us to send out an invitation or letter on your behalf, we can often arrange this.
  • Press releases - all press releases need to be approved by Freedom from Torture’s Press Office. If you need help with a press release or would like us to arrange one for you, then please contact the Local Groups Fundraiser first who will liaise with our Press Office.

Event Attendance – Freedom from Torture staff and guest speakers

If you would like a staff member to attend your event, we will always endeavour to find someone suitable.

If you would like a speaker to come to your event, please do let us know at least six weeks in advance. Whether a speaker can attend will depend on the size of the event, the potential benefit both for the event and Freedom from Torture, as well as the costs and time involved.

Our Local Groups have hosted a number of well known patrons and supporters such as Michael Palin and John McCarthy. If you are planning a celebrity event, please do let us know at least three months in advance.

We will make every effort to help make sure your event a success.

Running a successful local group

Running a successful local group means first and foremost keeping group members happy and making sure they feel valued and useful. If people are not happy with the way the group is going or feel their contribution is not appreciated their enthusiasm can start to wane.

The structure of the group is crucial to a group’s success.

Structures and roles

Our local groups organise themselves in many different ways. There are no particular rights or wrongs, but keeping an eye on the way your group is structured, and the various tasks that members are asked to take on, helps to ensure that the group can respond to changing circumstances.

Chair

The Chair of a local group keeps in regular contact with the Local Group Fundraiser, who is based at our London centre. The Chair will receive regular information such as newsletters, invitations to events or updates about our work. The Local Groups Fundraiser will also provide the Chair with advice where required and talk through ideas for the group or any problems that may arise.

Being the Chair of a group is both a challenging and important role.

Treasurer

Keeping good accounts will help your group with financial planning and fundraising. It is also important to be accountable for the money you raise and spend. For reasons of transparency and good practice, all local groups must maintain good financial records.

Good accounting is crucial as it helps you:

  • Make sure all members of the group know how much money the group has raised and what the expenditure has been
  • Keep track of the money and to know how much you have spent and how much is still available
  • Make the best use of your money and budget for the next year
  • Evaluate which events have been successful and should be repeated

Financial procedures

Some Freedom from Torture Local Groups have their own bank accounts. Many of the major banks and building societies have accounts specially designed for local community groups. However, other groups choose not to have their own account and pay any money raised straight into Freedom from Torture’s bank account. Whether to have your own account or not depends on what you feel most comfortable with, as well as the amount of money you raise, the cash flow you require and the number of activities (and hence transactions) you plan. We leave this decision up to the group.

However, by the end of the financial year all the money raised (apart from a small cash flow reserve) will need to be paid into our account so it can be used to fund our services in the coming year. The Local Groups Fundraiser will send you a six-monthly income report for you to check and compare with your own records.

Throughout the year, groups carry out a wide range of different activities and events.

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