This document has been prepared by the Deputy Chairman and Secretary and is intended to introduce new ideas for the furtherment of the London and Home Counties Branch. It is proposed that this document be discussed at a Branch Meeting so that Members can give their input and support to these proposals.
The document has been split into three segments:
- 1) first being an outline of the strategy of how to attract further members
- 2) second part to build the profile of the branch
- 3) thirdly how the branch can achieve the objectives of the organisation
It must be recognised that the London Branch has limited funds, but a great deal of publicity and profile raising can be achieved by networking and with contact with organisations allied to the RFAA. These initiatives would be undertaken by the leading officers of the London Branch of the Association, although volunteers would be greatly appreciated.
It is vital that new members are brought into the Branch as, since the Branch came into being many members have either moved away or due to infirmness can’t make the quarterly meetings, or have crossed the bar.
By definition we are an organisation of an ageing membership and, with the diminishment of the mother organisation (RFA), there will not be so many members joining the Association, or in fact want to join the Association at all.
The position of the RFA is very uncertain at the moment, and I would suggest that the Association is more relevant and needed more than ever before.
Currently the London Branch makes contact through only the email route, bypassing 50% of members, who have no idea of what is going on within the Branch. We have invested in a website, which gives a good indication of what is going on, but again is only available to those on-line.
We therefore, make the following suggestions to try and bring in more members spread across our area of Kent, London, Middlesex, parts of Sussex, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Essex.
- Mail all members listed in the handbook, using postcards.
The postcard will attract attention, and can be kept on notice boards and reach all members within our area. We can use Vistaprint as a cheap way of achieving this objective, and have one mailing per year.
- Contact organisations related to the RFAA and increase corporate membership.
To include the RFA, visiting ships, American MSL and other shipping organisations. We have not contacted the Civil Service, as the connections with the RNSTS has been seriously neglected. The RNSTS were a major part of the RFA and can be contacted through their journal; We believe this could be a major resource for getting a greater membership.
- Incentive products.
This is an area that could not only raise the profile of the London Branch, but give something back to members as a little thank you. The incentive could be as little as a notebook or a keyring, cheap to produce and would bring in those members currently out of touch with the Branch. There is the possibility that a notebook could be mailed with the postcard, and other promotional items could be distributed at Branch events e.g. Christmas Lunch and presentations at visits.
Profile of the Branch
This is an area that we need to seriously consider, as the profile of the branch is almost non-existent. Without a working profile the branch will find it hard to meet its constitutional objectives laid down by the Charities Commission, let alone our own Association’s objectives.
The two areas of profile building are as follows:
- 1) Alliance with other seagoing organisations
Other organisations can be contacted so that we can be included in their social calendar, or at least included in a networking arena, bringing to their attention the existence of the RFAA and specifically the London Branch. These organisations could include:
- i) Hon Company of Master Mariners
- ii) RNA
- iii) MNA
- iv) Trinity House
- 2) Sea Cadet Sponsorship
This is a major opportunity to sponsor a unit of sea cadets within the London area, and one that will bring together the charitable objectives of the RFAA, and also help to build the London Branch’s profile. This is also a great opportunity for the Association to encourage a younger generation of potential seafarers. It is envisaged that the sponsorship will take the following format:
- i) Presentation of a trophy (Donated by RFAA HQ)
- ii) Trophy to be a bell, ships wheel or cup
- iii) Trophy to be presented to a London District (Sea Cadets)
- iv) Best supply / logistics management or subject notified by SC
- v) Small cash donation to the London District involved
- vi) Trophy to an individual Sea Cadet of that District
- This sponsorship could also be initiated by other branches across the country with publicity being brought about by publishing it in the Sea Cadets journal plus the press (Evening Standard / Metro) and of course the RFAA Force 4 + websites.
The objectives of the RFAA are in summary:
- a) Fostering esprit de corps and preserving the traditions of the Service and perpetuating its deeds.
- b) Perpetuating the memory of those members of the Service who have died in the service of their country; and to relieve members or former members of the Service or their dependants who are in need, hardship or distressed by:
Making grants of money or providing or paying for goods, services or facilities for them or making grants of money to other persons or bodies who provide goods, services or facilities to those in need. Finally to provide advice and counselling to them during bereavement or injury or during times of crisis or conflict.
These objectives are the basis of the constitution for the Association, and for the London Branch to achieve and to reflect these objectives wherever possible. There is an immediate need to introduce some of these objectives including:
The MNA runs a bereavement and welfare course for which we have been invited to submit candidates for this excellent course. Volunteers are welcome to register for this course, which would also bring our two organisations together.
Contact with out of touch members
This could be a task of phoning existing members and members that have drifted away from the Association (Monthly / Quarterly). It would also be the first contact area of whether any welfare needs are required.
This is currently being undertaken by our standard bearer, Gordon Monks in attending various marches and parades and increasing our profile and marking respect for the fallen, with him attending ceremonies at Brize Norton and other repatriation centres.
There is a need for the branch to attend members funerals and other charity events which currently is not being undertaken.
The Branch profile could also be raised by encouraging more members to participate in National events such as MN Day and the Cenotaph ceremony.
All of these activities will build the profile of the London Branch, and achieve the objectives set out by the Association, but we need to advertise these facts on the websites and journals of other seagoing organisations.