4 minutes reading time (712 words)

Thinking about starting your own group? Don’t panic! (Resource Booklet)

Thinking about starting your own group? Don’t panic!

Often people approach COPEScotland who are thinking about starting their group or charity and wonder if we could share our learning. 

There are other groups and organisations out there that people can tap into for advice and support, however, when asked we always try and do what we can, sharing our lived experience of how COPEScotland evolved and the various elements and dimensions we considered and learned about. poster and resource booklet on the Thinking of Starting your Own Group? Don't Panic may be of interest to anyone starting on this journey. 

The poster offers an overview of the various dimensions, and the resource booklet offers sources of information which may be of value.

Starting and maintaining a group does require time and effort! Our intention in putting this together is not to overwhelm and put people off, it's simply to share that depending on what your plans are, there can be more work involved than initially expected and that taking time to plan before you start can save hassle further down the road.

It may be that having considered all the points you may decide not to set up a group. However, do not let that put you off finding a way to help achieve goals. Charities are often looking for trustees or volunteers. Working with others can also be a way of establishing or developing a group.

In an environment with significant competition for funding, sometimes combining efforts work out better. However, this is a decision for you and those others seeking to set the group up.

One of the biggest considerations in starting any group is around 'WHY?' and 'FOR WHOM?' and 'WITH WHAT IMPACT?' Also taking time to think about the values of your group and who created those values as it matters that people expected to live up to those values are involved in agreeing them. We have also included an infographic which shows the guiding values of COPE Scotland.

No one individual, group, or organisation has the answers to the challenges facing people and the planet today. A passion to create a positive change in the world can often be the driving force behind establishing a new group or charity. The materials shared here are simply a wee tool which may help you explore the actions and things to consider if this is a step you plan to take.

Remember, starting your group can take time and energy and can at times be stressful, so please ensure you build in self-care for yourself as well as create a culture of collective care for everyone involved in the group.

We have also included other wee infographics which may be of interest around our evolution, this includes:

  • An example of listening to the voices of lived experience in designing a community mental health service
  • An example of the characteristics the voices of lived experience sought from those offering support
  • The values the voices of lived experience sought from COPEScotland
  • The evolution from C.O.P.E. the project to COPEScotland
  • Examples of partnership working and comments from partners
  • An infographic on what COPEScotland does now

What we have learned over the years is that it matters that we hear the voices of lived experience to help steer the direction of travel and to accept that those voices change over time as the people engaged with your group or charity may change, which may mean the vision of the group may change also. This is why we review our vision and purpose to reflect if we are still on track, or if it is time for a change. Starting a group is the beginning, maintaining it is another matter. However, planning at the beginning can help you adapt as time moves on

"Those who survive are the ones who most accurately perceive their environment and successfully adapt to it"

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