A 'Friends of' group, in this context, is a group of individuals who voluntarily work to maintain, improve and often promote a park, green open space or community building. 'Friends of' groups are committed locals who want to see the coastal parks and open spaces restored as social centres for the community and tourists/visitors to these unique areas. Making a positive contribution to a place and typically carrying out the following tasks:
A 'Friends of' group should develop suitable governance (decision-making) arrangements and elect a Chair, then if any other appointments of members or delegating particular tasks to specialised individuals is required, the group should do so to ensure the smooth operation of the group.
The Council manages local assets and provides local services, which includes the following:
Overall responsibility and decision-making on assets rests with Full Council. It has established an Assets, Inclusion and Development Committee (AID) to make related recommendations and this Committee establishes specialist sub-committees from time to time.
'Friends of' Groups support the Council’s buildings, parks and open spaces through fundraising, community engagement, practical work (such as gardening, cleaning and litter-picking) and promoting use of sites on behalf of the Council. The composition of the Groups should include two members of the Town Council to overlook and ensure that the group is being run in a functional and fair manner. Town Council officers, the Town Clerk and relevant contractors may attend Group meetings from time to time to discuss pressing matters.
See below the structure of how a 'Friends of' Group operates and works with the Town Council:
Lowestoft Town Council is new; we want to improve the quality of life in Lowestoft by enhancing the assets that we hold and maintain for the town.
To do that we want to involve our community in what we do. We’re not a rich council, we get our money from the people of Lowestoft and want to make sure how it’s spent benefits the people of Lowestoft. Involving the community in their local assets is the best way to ensure that those assets are enjoyed, managed well and benefit the widest spectrum of the community.
This isn’t about getting free resource, although volunteers are always a welcomed help, but about making Lowestoft a better place to live and drawing on the skills and knowledge of the local people to achieve that goal which so many groups, organisations and communities are striving for each and every day. There are many other benefits to forming a “Friends of” group, including:
Lowestoft Town Council maintains many parks, play areas, green open spaces, museums, the Town Hall and the Marina Theatre, amongst many other assets, with several dedicated groups, organisations and communities working together with the Town Council to improve the quality of life in Lowestoft.
Currently there are a handful of 'Friends of' Groups that the Town Council provide support to, including:
We’d like to open this out to other parks, play areas and green open spaces within Lowestoft, boosting the existing “Friends of” groups and encourage the establishment of new groups.
Why not talk to our team and find out if there is a Friends group near you? Our 'Friends of' information packs can be found on this page, these packs sets out the whole process of joining an existing group, starting a new one and running the group (if required).
Feel free to talk to our team who will be more than happy to help you get started.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
How can 'Friends of' Groups stay effective during a pandemic?
>Sharing images and content - Throughout the pandemic some 'Friends of' Groups have stepped up to virtually share the cared for spaces, easing the sense of isolation for those who are shielding and creating an enjoyable environment for those who visit these spaces while getting their daily exercise. By sharing images of local wildlife, changes of season and the unique history of these spaces, many groups have ensured that the community stays in touch with nature as much as they can while the pandemic continues.
>Holding 'Friends of' Group meetings virtually - Ensuring regular checks are carried out at the park and/or open space, possible developments and projects to the area that could go ahead post-lockdown, local updates with regards to Government restrictions and rulings, and anything urgent to discuss with the group and/or the Town Council.
>Continuing practical tasks which can be done solo or at a safe distance - Litter picking, planting bulbs, watering and general maintenance can continue to carry out if done within a safe environment.
>Promoting the benefits of parks and open spaces and 'Friends of' Groups - 'Friends of' Groups know how vital green spaces are for their neighbourhoods, many looking to the future to make sure they are supported and funded where needed. Groups sharing areas of their parks and open spaces, noting how they can improve mental and physical health, provide breathing spaces with lower pollution levels and they encourage a greater range of biodiversity, is a great start to promote the benefits of these spaces.
Do you have to pay a membership to partake in a 'Friends of' Group?
No, 'Friends of' groups operate on a voluntary basis and you will not be required to pay any membership fee(s).