I believe that a group, of between eight and sixteen people, that meets every week at the same time to focus on an issue and enjoy each other’s company achieves more than any other human activity.
Of course, not everyone can attend every week, but the certainty that it’s there at that time on that day means that members don’t miss out when they are available.
Between eight and twelve people can all contribute in an hour or two. Less than eight members means too few might attend in one week or during the school holidays. With over sixteen, a full house will be too crowded.
Ideally a group which is meeting physically needs to be located where members can reach it and be within reach of other facilities, in a building with parking and access to refreshments that can offer privacy to the group.
An open group is best because if some people drop out there will be others waiting to join. A group may share common interests and approaches to the meetings for a time, but often cliques or factions develop and there begin to be disagreements over the way meetings are organised. An open group with people on the waiting list can split into two groups quite amicably if this happens.
Groups can work just as well online, but this means deciding on a live sharing facility. It’s still a good idea for online groups to be set up with members geographically quite close unless they are very specialist in their subject matter. They then have a chance of meeting each other in person a few times a year, at a national or regional event, or for a social get-together.
Real Life Press will do all it can to assist existing groups, create new ones, and make it easier to find out about groups and join them.
Some groups work very well by sharing out the tasks needed to keep a group going, others need the stimulus of an outside organiser, a creative writing tutor for instance, or a founder/leader who does all the organising, but who deserves a modest financial reward from membership fees that otherwise just cover expenses.
Over the next weeks and months, we’ll be developing a software program that allows contact with, within and between groups. Our current position is set out below. But I’ll welcome your comments, ideas, and offers of help. Please email email@example.com so that team members working on solutions can add their comments to yours before we make decisions. Sometimes technical costs of implementation, or lack of access to expertise, rule out the most exciting ideas.
I wish you well in your groups.
Reading & Writing Groups
Including Poetry Groups
Reduced Price Membership
If you run a reading or writing group of between 8 and 16 people, or that number want to be involved with Real Life Press, we will accept a group Level Five Membership based on £5 a week and provide free Level Four Membership benefits to all listed group members who sign up to our weekly FUN newsletter for Readers or Writer. Level Four is based on 13 28day subscriptions a year of £5 each. For example, if 12 group members are involved, the group cost will be 52 x £5 = £260 a year. Each member will contribute £21.66 a year = 42p a week instead of £1.25, a saving of two thirds = 83p a week. Full Level Four discounts and offers will be available plus free access to the Archive using the group membership code.
Group Shop Account
Collecting money other than in cash and holding it in an account for the benefit of group members, to be paid out on request can be difficult because of banking laws.
Each group will have a shop account in the group name into which funds can be set aside or money collected in connection with, for instance, venue costs, or in connection with some of the activities below.
Author Offers to Groups
We will encourage authors to go on real life or virtual road trips and meet groups for an hour at their usual meeting time. In circumstances in which their eBook publishing and distribution contracts permit it, we will encourage authors to offer all members of the group an eBook for a group price. For those authors who are interested, we will suggest that they offer half-day workshops to writers in the group and open places up to others, who might then become interested in joining the group.
We will encourage groups to pay a fee and expenses when authors are struggling financially and will list this contribution with author details which will appear in our newsletter. Such fees might be recovered by discounts on the author’s books. A combined purchase might be to a workshop or talk at a local venue with a free book.
Writer Group Anthologies
We will help groups or some members of a group to create an anthology which may be made available as an eBook or in print or both. We will sell the eBook through our shop and make it and a paperback available worldwide if this is wanted. If we publish the book under our Community Writers imprint our standard publishing and promotion terms will apply. If the Group meets all costs of production and accepts responsibility for delivering printed books if any are produced POD or in bulk print, we will offer them in our shop and collect payment for 15% of the price.
Group Writing Competitions
If a Writers’ or Readers’ Group wants to organise a writing competition to raise funds for itself or a charity, Real Life Press will support the competition in as many of the following ways as prove possible –
1 Publicise the competition
2 Arrange blind entries so that Group members can enter
3 Help find a judge or judges
4 Collect entry fees into the Group shop account
5 Pay winners from the Group shop account
Entrants will need to open a Real Life Press shop account when they enter. This a secure authenticated woo commerce PayPal shop which accepts debit and credit cards without the need for a PayPal account but carries the PayPal guarantee.
As an inducement to entry, for entrants who are not already newsletter subscribers as writers, but subscribe free on entry, a sum equal to the entry fee(s) but not exceeding £5 will be credited as cashback to their shop account to be spent subject to terms and conditions. £1 will be credited to your competition account.
If the Group has run writing competitions in the past this offer can be extended to previous entrants by the Group. If this backdating offer is taken up, £1 will also be credited to the Group shop account.
Sindy’s Campaign for Respect Groups
Spreading the RESPECT message is OK online as a solo activity and posting a selfie wearing a T-shirt and cap will work, as will placing mugs in workplace social settings and the other ideas that Sindy suggests.
But life is much more fun if we can identify people who believe in Respect and meet up to enjoy each other’s company. So, if you want to join or create a local group we’ll give you the opportunity to contact others.
Sindy in Real Life – THE RESPECT CAMPAIGN
Good Neighbours = Good Neighbourhoods Groups
In villages and some neighbourhoods people used to know each other, offer and accept help and take pride in their neighbourhoods. Care in the community was just part of life, not an industry of poorly paid professionals and their clients. Sadly, that spirit has gone from most people’s lives, but it is missed.
People do get together over single issues, and many people would like to be able to go to a neighbourhood centre where they could volunteer to help with things they are good at doing, and get help with things they can’t do properly.
So, if you want to join or create a local group we’ll give you, at least, the opportunity to contact others.
Political and Social Reform Groups
Volunteering in the UK is stifled by safeguarding systems which are more cumbersome than they need to be. Criminal record checks are required for every individual organisation to carry out. A national volunteer force could allow an annual safeguarding clearance for particular risks, with automatic status updating by the police, which would make the formation of local community care groups much easier.
It’s just one example of a policy that could be floated and developed in debate on the blog.
RLP The Voice of Ordinary People so that when neighbourhood groups saw the need for improvements beyond their powers, they could form groups to pursue a particular policy change, or seek to change the general balance of economic power, without being allied to any single political party.
So, if you want to join or create a local or national policy devising or lobbying group, we’ll give you the opportunity to contact others.