Here are some frequently asked questions about Area Forums. More Information can be obtained from the Local Community Planning Protocols and Guidelines (PDF document).
It is important to remove any barriers which may prevent local people from getting involved and participating effectively. Area Forum meetings are held in venues which allow all members of the public easy access. Practical support can be accessed via the Community Support Unit to promote the smooth operation of Area Forums. The Community Support Unit staff will work closely with Area Forum members to ensure a supportive structure which responds to the needs of members in addressing a wide range of issues, including building the capacity of the group.
The Moray Councils Community Support Unit is well practiced in utilising quality assurance tools to support Area Forum members and community groups and organisations in general to maximise the impact of their activity. The Community Support Unit is available to support Forum members to use the following quality assurance and planning tools.
The National Standards for Community Engagement set out ten statements of commitment that can be used to develop and support better working relationships between communities and agencies delivering public services. Area Forums are encouraged to apply the standards when carrying out tasks associated with the work they do.
Learning, Evaluation and Planning (LEAP) is a tool which supports people and organisations to plan more effectively identify and evidence changes that they hope to make, learn from their experiences and work in partnership with one another.
Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement (VOiCE) has been designed to assist individuals and organisations to design and deliver effective community engagement. It is a tool that supports us to plan community engagement and service user participation, conduct it effectively, monitor and record the process and evaluate the outcomes.
In addition to this handbook, the Community Support Unit has developed other handbooks to support Area Forums, as well as other community groups and organisations, on the subjects of Marketing, Increasing Your Membership and Funding.
A small amount of funding is provided to each Area Forum. This finance is intended to cover administrative expenses, including the cost of secretarial assistance, meeting venues, stationery, promotional literature such as posters, news sheets etc. It also covers relevant expenses incurred by Forum members, including childcare and carer’s costs, travel to meetings, email, telephone and postage costs.
Opportunities for Area Forum members to attend local and national conferences or to access training on issues related to the work of the Forum locally and the outcomes contained within the 10 Year Plan will be encouraged. Costs of attending any such conferences and training, including course fees can be covered from the annual administrative grant.
This funding is made available to each Forum at the start of the financial year and transferred into their bank accounts. This finance could be subject to change due to budgetary constraints and priorities at any time.
Area Forums are asked as a condition of this funding to produce annual accounts and evidence of regular meetings.
Area Forums also have the opportunity to draw down funding from external sources. However, duplication or competing with local groups and organisations should be avoided. Applying for external funding should only be progressed where there are no existing local groups, either individually or collectively, in a position to do this.
Community Support Unit staff are available to offer support to Forums and local community groups to identify and apply for sources of funding.
Each Area Forum should take steps to ensure that everyone in their area is kept up to date on the work of the Area Forum and the Area Action Plan.
Each Area Forum is encouraged to develop its own local publicity strategy to raise awareness and pass on information within its own geographic area. Use should also be made of existing community newsletters, websites and social networks for this purpose.
Area Forums should submit regular updated information to the Community Planning website (www.yourmoray.org.uk). Each Area Forum has its own home page on the site containing information about the area, membership of the Forum, minutes of meetings and all the latest news about Forum activity. Area Forums should nominate a member of the Forum to take on this responsibility to ensure consistency is maintained.
Each Area Forum should also produce news stories, which celebrate the achievements of the Area Forum, to be featured in the local press and media.
Each Forum should also seek to develop a good relationship with the local press and other media outlets and seek coverage of events and initiatives which it is promoting. All contact with the local press and media should take account of the Moray Community Planning Partnership’s agreed Media Protocol available on www.yourmoray.org.uk