Starting your own community group — first steps

Hello and welcome to this video from Support Cambridgeshire, a partnership of Cambridge CVS and Hunts Forum. This module is the first of several we have developed to help people set up their own community group.

We have made this video for people who are considering setting up a formal group to benefit others in their local community – this first session considers what to think about before you start setting things up and we would recommend getting in touch with us to have a chat about what you want to do. if you are already steaming ahead and want to know more about how you might structure your group, we have other recordings you can look at. Guidance links to more information and templates are included in this transcript.

People start community groups for lots of reasons, they might want to:

  • Organise an event
  • Set up a group to support others
  • Set up a group to share common interests
  • Raise funds to help their community
  • Create and manage community spaces

Whatever your ideas before you get started it is worth asking yourself – What do you know about the people you want to help?

  • Can you consult with them to find out if they think your ideas are the best way to help them?
  • Is anyone else supporting the people you want to help? Have you spoken to them about your ideas? Could they offer some guidance or could you share resources?
  • Could you run what you want to do under the wing of another organisation and learn how they operate?

Who is helping you?

  • Do you have the right skills for this undertaking? If not you’ll need to find people who do
  • Do you have people willing to be actively involved and people willing to join your committee or will you need recruit them?

What will your role be?

This is something to consider as it may influence the structure you might go on to choose for your group

  • Are you happy to donate your time and skills for free long term?
  • Do you want to take a leadership role, helping steer the group forward?
  • If you need to be paid for your time at some point It is worth being aware that trustees of charities are not usually paid. So you will need to either hand over control to others or choose a non-charitable structure for your group. We talk more about options for structuring groups in another recording.

If you have considered all these questions and are still keen to set up your community group you might consider holding a public meeting to make more people aware of your ideas, engage more supporters and identify any key challenges you may not have already considered.

  • Find an accessible venue – think about when people will be available – if you want to attract people who work and have children you might organise an evening session and avoid school holidays. Could people participate virtually as well as in person? Does the venue have public liability insurance that will cover your event? You will need to undertake a risk assessment for the venue – here is a link to a checklist
  • Can you create an incentive to get people along? Could you get a local business to sponsor refreshments or get an interesting speaker? Maybe you could piggyback on an existing event?
  • Work out how you’ll convey what you want to achieve – you need a clear concise message you can put on a poster, on Facebook or anywhere your potential supporters might see it such as in the local newsletter, shops, library, community or sports centre.
  • Create an agenda Set out the objectives for the meeting and make sureyou agree next steps. If your meeting is well organised it suggests yourgroup will be well run and people may be more willing to get involved.
  • You will want to ask those attending to sign up to hear more about yourgroup or to offer support. How will you collect this information and how will you ensure you work within data protection legislation – more on this in a moment.
  • If you want to take photographs or video at the meeting, you will need to ask for permission. Here is a template for a permission form.

At this stage, it is worth being aware of some initial data protection guidance.

  • Only collect the information you need
  • Have a written statement called a privacy notice explaining what you will do with people’s data, how long you’ll keep it for and how you will keep it safe. Ask people to tick a box to say that they agree to you contacting them by email or by phone. You also need to tell them how they can ask you to delete their data. Here is a link to a Sample privacy notice 

Hopefully, after your public meeting, you now have a team of people interested in helping you get the group set up and start arranging activities. Your next step is to set up your group deciding how you’ll be structured. We have further recordings looking at whether your group is charitable and what governance structure you might choose.

Check out other recordings in this series and to get more help and support contact us on

Help us improve our website