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Issue 3, September 09

Civic Soc Initiative Logo Returntostart BULLETIN

Contact us: W: www.civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk T: 0151 708 9920 E: admin@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk
Welcome to the third Civic Society Initiative Bulletin.
This edition is packed with news and information, including the largest ever survey of civic activity ever undertaken. Already over 400 responses have been recieved and everyone who has given contact information will be entered into a prize draw giving you the chance of winning £250 for a civic society of your choice and a personally signed copy of Griff Rhys Jones' latest book, Rivers. You still have time to complete the survey here and please forward it to others who share your interest.
There is information on a major meeting in Guildford, of the national convention in Blackpool and of a civic society conference in Kings Lynn. There is eews of the insurance arrangements for civic societies with Bluefin, while Griff Rhys Jones has written a new blog. In response to some of the issues raised at the Open Forums we have included some ideas on how to write a press release that will grab attention and some thoughts on fundraising with information on the new Communitybuilders Fund. There is also news of Heritage Open Days and we include some of the main campaigns being undertaken by civic societies around the country, including a special campaign video produced by Leicester Civic Society, Lytham St Annes Civic Society engaging in the climate change debate and how the Buckingham Society has suffered from a developer using a tactic known as "twin-tracking".
CSISurveyCivic Society Survey
This survey is a vital part of the civic debate to find a way forward following the loss of the Civic Trust. We are thankful to everyone who has so far responded to the survey. Over 50% of responses have come from people who had not previously been in touch with the Initiative and so we are reaching the grassroots. Please help this by sending this survey to as many people as possible in your society. We are also asking other organisations for their views on the movement and the way forward so we know how others see us. You can also see the press coverage about the survey here.

You can get hold of the survey questionnaire here. It will only take a few minutes to complete. Every survey that has been returned by the deadline of 30 September will be entered into a prize draw, if you wish it - with the chance of winning £250 for a civic society of your choice and a personally signed copy of Griff Rhys Jones' latest book, Rivers for you.

A lot of societies have sent the survey to members to respond giving them a greater change of winning the £250 - why not forward the survey on to get the money for your group!
InsuranceCivic Society Insurance Programme

We are happy to include the announcement below from Bluefin Insurance Service Ltd ('Bluefin'), our insurance brokers.

"Like the Civic Society Initiative itself, Bluefin believe it is essential that all civic societies have the insurance cover appropriate to protect themselves from claims or losses.

So we are pleased to announce that the Civic Society Initiative has formed a new relationship with Bluefin to ensure that the Civic Society Insurance Programme continues to be available to all societies that require it.

A large number of civic societies are already covered under this programme, and this was unaffected by the Civic Trust going into administration this year.

The insurance programme we offer has been specifically designed to cover Societies, their Committees and their Assets.

We appreciate that it is important for you to have the right cover in place with the right insurers to protect you as societies against claims or losses. These losses might arise from a number of sources. Losses may flow from your own activities, the public, or, where you have them, employees and volunteers, and may result from personal injury, your society being held liable, or property damage.

The Bluefin policy covers a wide range of activities of civic societies, including the usual activities you would expect. These include meetings and outings, but also extend to include a wide range of manual and volunteer activities such as restoration (non-structural), open space maintenance and conservation work.

Committee Members and Trustees typically provide their time for free and we at Bluefin recommend that you consider taking out Charity Trustee Indemnity Insurance for Civic Societies. This will cover Committee Members and Trustees (Officers) for personal liability that might arise for breach of professional duty. Examples of these risks are situations where donated funds were misused; or a breach of the Health and Safety Act occurs; or if inadequate records and minutes were kept.

We can also provide Professional Indemnity Insurance on request. This could cover you against liability for advice you give for a fee, or against liability for libel and slander relating to publishing.

We are also pleased to advise also that following feedback from some civic societies, the Civic Society Initiative is working with Bluefin to develop a 'Society Light' option. This will be designed to cover civic societies that just hold meetings and the occasional organised walk or guided tour.

We will announce details of this shortly through the Civic Society Initiative's Bulletin. What we can say now is that we expect there to be two levels of cover - so less active societies should pay a lower premium to reflect the lower risk they represent to insurers.

There will still be an option to include Charity Trustee Indemnity Insurance with either level of cover.

Bluefin is a specialist Insurance Broker to the Charity and Care Sectors. We are also working with the Civic Society Initiative to offer additional services to individual members of civic societies, such as Private Medical Insurance, Household and Motor Vehicle insurance and Financial Services. These offerings will be competitively priced and have the additional benefit of supporting the work of your local civic society. As part of the programme, there will be a contribution for each product or service which is taken up. Insurance products and services offered by Bluefin are regularly benchmarked against others available in the market for cover and premium cost and represent excellent value for money.

Please contact us if you would like to know more. You can contact Claire or Georgina on:

020 7338 0111

or email us on:



Bluefin Insurance Services Ltd
Fountain House
130 Fenchurch Street

Bluefin is proud to be able to work with the Civic Society Initiative".

Blackpool BlackpoolconventionConvention
The National Convention will run from 1pm on 15 October to 4pm on 16 October in Blackpool. It will provide a unique opportunity to meet and share experiences with civic societies from across the country and to contribute to the discussion on the future of the civic society movement. It will include a keynote talk by Tony Burton presenting the results of the survey and Open Forums so far. There will also be an opportunity to meet representatives of Bluefin to discuss insurance and we hope to have news on new insurance arrangements for societies. There will be a full day of discussion on Friday 16th, commencing at 9.30am and Blackpool Civic Trust has arranged a busy programme to be enjoyed on the afternoon and evening of Thursday 15th, including:
  • Joining a series of guided walks around Blackpool
  • Enjoying a civic drinks reception in the company of The Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool, Councillor Norman & Mrs Barbara Hardy
  • Having the opportunity to be entertained over an evening meal while networking with colleagues.
We would ask that you register for the Convention as soon as possible by completing the registration form here. The fee is just £9.95 for both days. We want to ensure as many societies as possible can attend and will be operating on a first come first served basis.

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100 civic societies engage in national heritage celebration!
Over 4,000 places across the country opened their doors for free as part of Heritage Open Days between 10th and 13th September 2009 and we are delighted to announce that around 100 civic societies participated up and down the country. Griff Rhys Jones, who spoke at the press launch for Heritage Open Days said: "The whole idea appeals to our innate urge to get inside and poke about. It's what architecture is for, to experience and to explore interior space. I encourage all civic societies to get involved in the future."
Heritage Open Days were launched in Brighton, where volunteers, property owners and the media gathered to hear Baroness Andrews, new Chair of English Heritage, speak about her passion for community heritage.
Civic Societies who participated this year included:
  • St Albans Civic Society's watchdogs exploring the city's hottest of hot spots on a circular prowl around the city centre
  • Gloucester Civic Trust leading a walk around Gloucester Historic Dock, Britain's most inland port
  • Cheltenham Civic Society exhibiting its work, notably Civic Awards, Civic Society commemorative plaques, the history of Parmoor House and the 1834 map of the town.
  • Leeds Civic Trust leading a tour around the regenerated city centre waterfront.
The unique attraction of Heritage Open Days is the opportunity to visit and learn about properties and sites which are not normally open to the public. It is the vision and passion of civic societies and like minded groups that make it such a success. As such, we will be working very closely with English Heritage on Heritage Open Days 2010 to ensure every civic society that would like to get involved gets the support they need .

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Griff Rhys Jones Blog!
In his third blog Griff Rhys Jones describes an open day in Wales to celebrate finishing the work to a mill he is restoring while telling us how he is being asked to save a lake, a canal, a quarry and lead a mass trespass to reclaim our waterways!

Why not respond to what Griff has to say here

South CTSEEast Autumn Conference
A major conference is being hosted by the Guildford Society and organised by Civic Trust South East on 26 September to bring civic societies together, learn more about English Heritage's work on heritage at risk, debate the future of regional planning and shape the future of the civic society movement in workshop and networking sessions at The Millmead Centre, Guildford Baptist Church, Bury Fields, Guildford GU2 4AZ

Speakers include:

Please contact Tony Molesworth tmoleswo@googlemail.com or register here . The fee is £10, including lunch.

East of England Conference
The East of England Association of Civic Trusts and Societies is organising a conference "Keeping our region special". This will be held on Saturday October 10th at the Elizabethan Marriott's Warehouse in King's Lynn, starting at 10am.
  • Tony Burton will explain the role of the Civic Society Initiative in debating the future of the civic movement.
  • Dr Peter Dawe will describe his proposal to construct a barrier across the Wash to help prevent flooding and to generate green electricity.
  • Richard Powell, regional director of the RSPB, will oppose it because the Wash is the most important estuary for birds in the UK.
To book a place email gladys.jones@virgin.net or click here

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Lytham Civic Society: Greening Your Victorian House Exhibition
18th- 20th October at Lytham Hall, Ballam Road, Lytham, Lancashire, FY8 4JX.
Most information on saving energy in the home is aimed at houses built since the 1930s and '40s. However, older houses have unique characteristics and architectural features that property owners would prefer to keep which may be affected by using modern energy saving measures. This exhibition and seminar over two days will explore methods and techniques that can be used to make older homes more energy efficient while maintaining their original attributes. More information is available here
or from marion.coupe@googlemail.com

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Local campaignLocalCampaign - national impact!

We are drawing up plans for a public campaign in which all societies can get involved over the next year or more. This will pick up on some of the exciting local campaigns being run by civic societies to highlight "eyesores", get involved in street audits, fight against clutter and champion high quality public places. If you have ideas and want to get involved then email us at campaigns@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk

In addition, if your society is involved in any special campaign at the moment, let us know - we would be pleased to share this with others in the movement so everyone can share in your success.
Leicester Civic Society - Save the Bowstring Bridge

Leicester Civic Society has been campaigning to save the
Bowstring Bridge, which has to be dismantled so that De Montfort University can build a new swimming pool and sports centre on land in Duns Lane.

Using new media and traditional methods of engagement Leicester Civic Society has ensured the campaign has captured the imagination of both the local press and local people. This campaign culminated last week with a public rally that attracted over 250 people.
As well as using traditional campaigning methods, Leicester Civic Society has taken full advantage of the new tools available to connect people, including developing a Facebook page, launching an on-line petition asking the Prime Minister to "Save the Bridge" and creating a video promoting the campaign. These methods can all be replicated by any civic society engaging in a campaign and will ensure you reach an even wider audience.
Is your Civic Society involved in a campaign you would like to promote to other societies? We are currently looking for a variety of campaigns to develop into detailed case studies to help promote the movement to the media and share lessons between societies. Contact us at ian.harvey@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk if you want to share your successes!
Buckingham Society
The Buckingham Society have been in touch with the Civic Society Inititiave over what they deem an
inappropriate planning application which was given outline approval on 3rd September. The Buckingham Society was so angry about the outcome, that they want the story of this application be told and spread widely throughout the civic society movement in the hope that if we all work together more strength will be given to the community voice to prevent developers having a financial stranglehold over a local authority.
You can read the full story here or can contact Carolyn Cumming at
carolyn.cumming@googlemail.com if you want to share your thoughts on this issue !
Spotlight on......Community Matters Communitymatters

Community Matters is an important organisation providing services to local voluntary organisations which many civic societies might be interested in.
Set up in 1945 it now has 1,100 community organisations in membership, including rural community councils and councils for voluntary service - the majority running local facilities such as village halls and supporting local services around recreation, social welfare and education. Among other things it provides legal services, guidance on incorporation, a consultancy service for local groups wishing to strengthen themselves and a programme of relevant events around the country and publications. The Civic Society Initiative is talking with Community Matters about the areas of overlap between civic societies and the organisations which it supports.
You can find more information here

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Writing that press release?

Getting the attention of the media for your work can be a major boost. But it doesn't come easily. Good press releases and good contacts are key.
When drafting a press release, remember the six basic ingredients to grab the attention of a journalist.
1. Get the facts straight
A simple rule is to find answers to questions pertaining to the who, what, when, where, why (the 5 Ws) of your story, don't forget 'how' either. Put a date on the release and remember, yesterday's news isn't going to go far.
2. Identify Your Story's Angle.
A good story needs:
  • a headline fact or insight
  • to be timely
  • to stand out from the crowd
A journalist will often only read the headline and if you are lucky first paragraph. Make sure it tells your story in a compelling way.
3. Create a Catchy Headline
Keep the headline short and simple, using less than ten words. It should convey the key point raised in the opening paragraph in a way that catches imagination. If you want the news to go live immediately say so and make this clear at the top by saying FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. It is often better to send your release iout in advance and have an embargo when it can be published. This gives journalists time to research the story and get in touch.
4. Write in Third-Person Voice.
A press release should presented objectively from a third person point of view. Only use "we" in quotes from a spokesperson. Refrain from expressing opinions, unless they are done in quotes and keep the focus on your society and not personal views. Draw conclusions from facts and experience only - not general opinion.
5. Provide "Quotes" from a spokesperson
Put the most important message down into a quote from a spokesperson. Journalists tend to use quotes to add a personal voice to their reports. If the press release contains quotes that are important and relevant to the story, then the chances are high that they will be replicated in full in the published article or broadcast.
6. Provide Additional Background Information.
Include background information as footnotes or even as an appendix (for example if summarising some research or a report)
You can find more thoughts on writing a press release here and see the press releases produced by the Civic Society Initiative here
Community Funds

A new source of funding for civic societies and other community organisations became available on 7 September. Communitybuilders has been set up by the Government with support from voluntary sector organisations like Community Matters and the Development Trusts Association. It has £70m to work with and the money must be allocated by March 2011 and spent within 5 years. It has identified three main priorities for funding support:

  • Development - this is the funding most likely to be of use to civic societies. It can provide someone to provide mentoring and assess the needs of a society where you are trying to strengthen and improve its governance, financial systems, leadership and core functions. Grants of around £2,000 are also available
  • Feasibility - this could provide grants for £10 - 20,000 where a civic society was developing a venture such as a museum or shop or negotiating a lease or similar commercial activity
  • Investment - this funding is at the higher end of the scale and will often be in the form of loans rather than grants. It is intended to help organisations generate income which they can re-invest in delivering their objectives.

The intention is to use Communitybuilders to help strengthen "community anchor organisations" and civic societies have the potential to develop a much stronger role. Many civic societies should be eligible for Communitybuilders which is aimed at not for profit organisations that:

  • are based and working in England
  • operate for the benefit of a defined neighbourhood
  • are locally controlled by local people or representatives of local groups
  • are looking to become more financially independent and less dependent on grant finance
  • are multi-purpose in the sense that they provide activities in at least three of the following areas:
    • environment, education, recreation (including culture and sport), social welfare, economic or vocational services, voice and advocacy services, trading for social purposes.
  • have a track record of providing services to the local community - which means having been around for at least a year!

Civic societies generally meet this criterion - with a strong focus on the environment, culture and education. In addition a number of societies are trading through a shop or similar outlet and/or helping community advocacy through the planning system that is inclusive of all sections of their community and are seeking to empower the community through development and community-led action.

You can find out more information here

FundraisingHelp us reach our funding target!

We are very grateful to all those societies who have donated so generously so far, We are well on the way to meeting our £50,000 target but we still need your support if we are to build our future on firm foundations. If you have any questions you would like answered then please contact Ian Harvey who would be happy to respond. Ian can be contacted on ian.harvey@civicsocietyinitiative.org.uk
To support the Initiative donate here
Feedback please?

This Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date with all matters "civic". We are keen to make it useful for you and would love to have your feedback.

Please submit your feedback here
In This Issue
Civic Society Survey
Civic Society Insurance Programme
Blackpool Convention
Heritage Open Days
Griff Rhys Jones Blog!
South East Autumn Conference
East of England Conference
Lytham St Annes Civic Society
Local campaign - national impact!
Leicester Civic Society
Buckingham Society
Spotlight on......Community Matters
Writing that press release?
Feedback please?
Help us reach our funding target!
Feedback please?
Civic Societies in the news
Burton Civic Society
Leicester Civic Society Campaign
Reading Civic Society
Read here
Ripon Civic Society

Civic Society Initiative in the news

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