Starting a branch of Children Need Families
The family debate rumbles on and change is not something that is imminent. There is a defined need for change and in order to effect that change it is evident that there is a need to make the public aware of the issues and concerns that face families.
Children Need Families (CNF) have identified that in order to make the public aware of not only the service provided by CNF but to help them understand and know their rights and what to do branches are an integral point of our existence and we are looking for individuals who have drive, enthusiasm and commitment to run our branches.
If you are considering getting involved in the family debate and want to help those who are vulnerable and need personalised help and assistance then why not come and join CNF and run a branch for us.
In the first instance you should write to CNF at [email protected] indicating that you want to be considered for running a branch of CNF, setting out in writing your reasons for wanting to run one of our branches and tell us what skills, experience and expertise you would bring to Children Need Families.
CNF need to be convinced that you could successfully run a branch and promote the work done by us to ensure the continuity of our work and to help us support and maintain the help we provide to a wide range of service users.
In order to start a CNF branch you will need to be a person committed to seeking change within the global debate on family issues and capable of leading from the front.
It is helpful if you are a person who can communicate well on many different levels, marshal resources to make them work effectively and efficiently in order to promote and enhance the branch you intend to be responsible for.
You need to focused and understand the client base when dealing with individuals who loose their way and cannot see the way ahead clearly, you should be able to give them guidance, support and know how to sign post them effectively, no matter how difficult the situation is that presents itself or how frustrated you become. If you can do this and more, then you are the sort of person we are looking for and who may just possess the basic skills to set up, operate and run a successful branch of Children Need Families.
It is not a pre requisite that you possess a great base of legal knowledge or hold a vast amount of statistical data to do this job or have a specific expertise. Simply, you need to be a person willing to learn in your own time, read extensively on the subject matter and listen to those who have come before you, developing and growing with the job, challenging the defined and sometimes entrenched views, beliefs and positions.
The purpose of a CNF branch is to provide a platform that offers support and guidance for Parents, Grandparents and the extended family to debate and air their continuing concerns that by definition have changed the course of their lives and those of their Children and Grandchildren.
The platform will offer families and others the opportunity to debate in detail issues that cause them distress and concern with others in similar situations to them and challenge the state, professionals and others directly when they are invited to meetings.
A branch via its regular meetings will deal with local and national issues that directly concern Parents, Grandparents and the extended family. The branch will seek to challenge Family Practitioners, Network Professionals, the courts and Policy Makers who get it wrong or simply fail to carry out their fundamental administrative duties and responsibilities.
You will be the focal point of the branch, motivating your staff and coordinating resources and making them work effectively for the branch. You will need to recognise when to offer emotional and practical support and when to ease off, directing the individual to guidance and legal information if available and signposting if appropriate, you will empower the individual enabling them to challenge the decisions that they feel fragment or marginalize their family group or are simply wrong.
A branch will choose its own priorities, objectives and goals. It will establish its own viable methods of pursuing subject matter, concerns and issues, but at all times will recognise and follow to the national and branch constitution, following the good working practices established and set out in policy documents.
Establishing a branch is reasonably easy. It requires commitment and patience, understanding and tolerance. A firm grasp of the situation is essential and needed to motivate others, essential.
It requires organisational skill, the ability to motivate a core team of stable committed helpers and volunteers to support you and share the workload. You will need to have the support and understanding of your partner and family to progress effectively and efficiently.
Like all jobs you will need basic tools to do the job. When and if possible CNF will provide such tools according to and dictated by our financial position. Below is a list of suggested tools you might need to begin.
Suggested tools you will need to start
- A base of operations.
- A telephone Line
- A Fax Machine
- A Computer
- A Printer
- An answer-phone
- A photo-copier or multifunction machine
- Locking Filing Cabinet(s)
- A locking cash box
The items above are not essential but very helpful to get you started.
As a branch Chairperson, you will receive effective support and guidance from Head Office and a framework to work within. Head Office will provide limited financial assistance in the setting up, running and maintenance of a branch.
The Starting Point
- You will need to give your branch a name. The branch name is decided by the name of the town or city you intend to operate from. If you are just a few miles away from the next town, you might consider incorporating both towns in your name.
- National Office will create electronic stationery for the use of the branch.
You will be provided with a copy of such material, but the material is subject to copyright and will remain the sole property of Children Need Families.
- You will need to decide how often your branch will meet i.e., once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. It is recommended that you meet once a week, as often your agenda will contain many items that simply may be passed over until the next meeting.
- You will need to advertise your branch locally. You can and should advertise within a ten-mile radius of your town or City.
- Contact local radio stations and newspapers, tell them about the work you intend to carry out in their area and ask them to promote your branch.
- Ask head office to provide you with posters to promote your group and display them in as many public places as you can i.e. libraries, CAB offices, Doctors surgeries, Police Stations, Court Reception Rooms etc.
- Speak to your local council, meet with local Councillors and MP’s, asking them to support the work you intend to do.
- Write letters to local companies and businesses asking them to pledge sponsorship or make a donation towards your efforts.
- You will need a constitution to run your branch. A formal document will be provided for you and this will determine the running of your branch.
- Set a date that your branch will officially exist from and let the local press and radio stations know.
- It is usual when you hold your first meeting to invite a speaker. It is important to get the right message across to the wider public. CNF can if you cannot find one, provide a speaker for the opening part of your meeting. The rest is up to you to fill.
- Set an agenda for the evening even if it is only a few items. Spread them out and have a break for refreshments this breaks the ice an gives individuals the time to talk to each other
- Send invitations to local professionals and family practitioners. You should include in your invitation list, Family Conciliation Services, Welfare organisations, the Police, local MP’s and support groups.