Guide Volunteering with Parks and Gardens & Creating a Friends Group

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5. Who Does What?

Who Does What? 

A committee must be elected by the members of the group to carry out actions and tasks on their behalf between meetings. The committee is responsible for the actions of the group, which means members cannot act without the committee’s authorisation. It is important that members within the committee cannot obtain a personal financial benefit through being elected. Also, although the committee can have as many members as the group wants, there are three positions that every committee must have, which are a Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer. You may also choose to elect vice positions, such as a vice chairperson, a vice treasurer and a vice secretary.
Some volunteers are more interested in organising fundraising events than taking part in maintaining or improving green spaces themselves, so it makes sense for this person to take on an Events Coordinator role. Anyone can elect another member to a position; however, it must be decided by vote who is to take a position. It is possible for individuals to act as Chairperson and Secretary whilst organising the first AGM, but they must give up their position when the committee is to be elected.

East Devon District Council’s officers or Councillors cannot operate as official members of a Friends Group and will only attend group meetings when invited to do so, to offer advice and support as appropriate.

At this stage, the group may wish to set up a bank account, which should be set up in the group's name and have at least two signatories for the account. The signatories must be members of the committee; usually the treasurer or chairperson. Other Friends groups have chosen to have three signatories on the account to avoid difficulties when one signatory cannot attend. An account with a cheque book is essential for easy access to the Friends group’s funds.

Roles within the Committee
  • The Chairperson helps the group to achieve its aims, sets agendas, conducts meetings and acts as the leader of the group; ensuring its smooth operation. The Chairperson should act as a facilitator, ensure positive discussions and involve all members of the group.
  • The Secretary ensures that all members of the group are kept fully informed and involved. The Secretary prepares the group’s paperwork and agenda for group meetings; takes minutes of meetings; arranges meetings’ locations and supports the Chairperson.
  • The Treasurer looks after the group’s financial activities, which ensures that accounts and records are up to date and accurate. The Treasurer is responsible for arranging to open the group’s bank account, paying in money, paying invoices, managing cheques and expense payments and arranging financial reports for the committee.

Most groups will need to open bank accounts, but it is important to note that a minimum of two unrelated group members are needed to sign cheques. It is usually the group’s Treasurer and Chairperson who have this responsibility.

Other positions
  • Vice Chairperson assists with positions within the committee and provides cover when the Secretary and Chairperson cannot be available.
  • Events Coordinator arranges events on behalf of the Friends Group, such as booking venues, arranging permissions (from the Council and others) for events within the green space, seeking sponsorship for events, working with the Treasurer to manage the budget effectively, and ensuring that health and safety requirements are met.
  • Media Coordinator may choose to create a website and utilise social media accounts for the purpose of expanding the group’s membership and for providing information to members that is easily accessible. The Media Coordinator could design the group’s website (or arrange it) and update information content and images regularly.
There are three types of committee member:
  • Elected – committee members are appointed by and from the membership.
  • Nominated – by another group, normally when two groups wish to form a working partnership.
  • Co-opted – brought in from outside the group because of their specific knowledge and skills.