Committee Members' Reports 2004/2005

Chairperson - Anne Shapland

Leicester YHA has had another good year, maintaining its membership, with newcomers and leavers, at about 100. There has been a programme of 49 events throughout the year, 16 weekends, 18 day walks, 14 social events and 1 holiday. Most of these have been well supported, some have been fully booked and had to turn members away. Hostelling and walking are still popular activities and the group remains active.

The total number of individuals who have organised these events is 20. Some of these have organised several events, and particular mention should be made of Tony Thompson who organised 10 day walks. Though running the danger of browbeating, the usual plea for more organisers must be made!

Thanks to all the first time organisers this year: Andy (Mackintosh), John, Becky, Marie & Jo, Norman & Catherine, as well as the remaining core of committed organisers. You form the basis of the group.

The group continues to meet weekly at the Local Hero, and continues to be poorly attended. We invite comments and suggestions from the floor. A monthly meeting has been mooted.

Gail Turner, who has been seconded to national YHA, has been looking at the work of local groups and their relationship to headquarters. She has visited the group twice, and a consultation paper resulting from her work is now available. We were pleased to hear that she thought Leicester YHA was one of the best run groups in the region. Alan will give more details in his report.

When I joined the committee three years ago, I was surprised to find how much work was carried out behind the scenes. So thank you to all the committee members for their work in accounts and correspondence, for programming, publicising and writing up all the events. Without all this the group could not run as it does.

Finally, I hope that the newly elected Chairperson will be successful and perhaps find a new line in stimulating A.G.M.s!

Secretary - Phil Humphrey

YHA have appointed a new Head of Volunteering, Crewenna Dymond. She starts on the 14th November, based at Matlock (I presume). She will take over responsibility for Local Groups from Edwina Edwards.

The Local Groups Conference for 2006 will be on Saturday 4th March. No more information than that at the moment.

On 2nd October, a number of group members, mostly from the committee, met Gail Turner again to help her move on the work she is doing to improve the way Local Groups are organised. Thanks to Alan for organising this meeting at short notice.

I have copies of Gail's reports so far and have also recently received a summary document from YHA Chairman, Chris Boulton about the consultation process on YHA's future structure. If any members wish to either read or have a copy of these, please let me know. I have supplied some copies of Chris Boulton's covering letter to the meeting. We are fortunate to have two group members, Alan and Dave, who are also involved with the YHA at higher levels. They are the best people to ask if you wish to know more.

Our group seems to be organised satisfactorily is most respects, but one thing it would be useful to do is alter our financial year end to the end of February. Dave Self will explain more about this.

Due to continuing family commitments, I am not very active on group events and I am aware that an increasing number of members may not know me. I am prepared to stand for re-election, but understand if this is a problem.

Treasurer - Dave Self

Above all, I must thank all of those that have organised, and attended, any of our hostelling events in 2004/05; without whom, we could not have made any of the surpluses detailed in the Annual Accounts. Even our President's Award money came mainly out of a working party at Tanners Hatch.

This year there is one thing that stands out to me and that is that this Group gave 120 from its surplus, as donations and gifts to YHA, plus another 20 donation to the Asian Tsunami Appeal. Unlike previous years, I transferred the 45 President's Award money to the Group's Social Account so that it could be used directly for our members benefit. Otherwise, out of a total surplus of 421.05, 212.56 went on internal and external Group publicity. On internal publicity, the two largest costs, 66 went to print two issues of our Newsletter, to distribute with the programme, and 64.18 for last year's AGM mailing. Externally, there was 30 for two adverts in the YHA Triangle, 29.38 to hire our web space from Ace-Internet plus another 23 for posters and handouts to the public. There was also 26.75 that went on stamps and stationery, leaving a shortfall of 3.26 carried over to the 2005/06 Financial Year. I know that 3.26 is only a small amount, easily recouped, but we have the added problem that we deferred payment of the 30 AGM room hire until this Financial Year, on top of that there is the cost of this year's AGM mailing. To date, we have only earned 19 in surplus, the Admin Charges from the Keswick and Tanners weekends. Hence, the Group will be relying on a good turnout at Bakewell, to cover the entire cost of this AGM, and more.

That small Annual Deficit (the first one I have ever had in 18 years as Treasurer) and with the Programme Fund standing at zero on the 30 September 2005, I think a few changes are in order. On the first hand, I do feel that it was a very worthwhile exercise, but on the other, the cost of printing two copies of the Milestones from our surplus, to publicise it with the last two Programmes, has used up funds that I would usually have spent on organising this AGM. Hence at our last Committee meeting, I made a proposal that the Group raise its Programme Subscription, to cover the cost of printing and delivering both the Programme and the Milestones, to all of our subscribers. There are also sound reasons for synchronising our Financial Year with that of YHA (England & Wales) Ltd. Primarily, it makes communication easier. The following figures may help show how the two parts of item 4) might work together, to gradually introduce that increase over the next 15-months:

Subscription per Financial Year (FY) A Price per Calendar Month A Price per Programme & Newsletter Comments
Our Last FY: 1 Oct 04 to 30 Sep 05 1.00 8.33p 33.33p For Programmes only. The two Newsletters were subsidised out of Group Surplus.
The Committee's Proposed Changes from this Annual General Meeting.
Interim FY: 1 Oct 05 to 28 Feb 06 1.00 20p 1.00 For one copy of both the Programme and the Newsletter + P&P.
1st New FY: 1 Mar 06 to 28 Feb 07 3.00 25p 1.00 For three copies of both the Programme and the Newsletter.

We will be returning to this matter in item 4), so please keep your comments until then. One other matter, due to some unwelcome changes by the Alliance & Leicester, the Group bank account will be changing to the HSBC; so that our new bank account is in place before the Bakewell weekend, all signatories must fill in all of the application forms tonight!

Social Secretary - Stella Smyth

Apologies for a dormant approach this year due to a greater range of work projects in Leicester and abroad. Consequently, this short report, and my decision to stand down from the committee although I will try to organise something within the next year. Indeed, if we all aimed to do just one event within the next 12 months the pressure on some individuals who generously give all the time to the group, in terms of arranging activities and keeping us all fit and social, or socially fit ,would be reduced to a large extent. Many, many thanks to them. I think we probably all know who those stalwart committee members are and what wouldn 't happen without them.

After a very poor response to the open Wed evening option to meet at the Odeon cinema, Freeman's Common at 7pm and decide what film to go and see there and then, it was decided to abandon this monthly event in March 2005. Rather, we will try and arrange to go and see pre selected films in the Phoenix and the Odeon, so that anyone interested can know the exact details in advance by looking at the YHA website and printed programme (webside for Odeon Cinema events as the screenings change from Thursday to Thursday), YHA programme + website for Phoenix events). Nevertheless, even if it was 'the usual suspects - one or two adventurous film buffs, we still found it a good excuse to retire to the 'Local Hero to talk about what we saw. Two weeks ago we had a particularly good response to an ad hoc decision by the group to go and see 'Wallace and Gromit' About ten of us were captivated by the animated satire and I fancied some of those vegetables myself.

Recently, two theatre trips were arranged at the Haymarket, Leicester.

The first was the evening performance of Macbeth on Fri 28 Oct, directed by Paul Kerryson: we the audience were frogmarched into the bowels of the backstage, standing like desultory guards for the first half, in the interest of a hands on encounter with the Macbeths' claustrophobic tragedy. Six of us went along and found it a relatively innovative production, even if there's nothing really new about making people stand for the first half at 15 a ticket! The three male witches had great chests, the musical scores were electrifyingly gracious at climatic moments in the play. And the Language... well it was mostly movement despite that line about "sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of care."

The following Tues (1st Nov) five of us went back to the Haymarket to see Jonathan Harvey's 'Beautiful Thing' in the Studio. We all agreed that it was a sensitive and comic account of gay adolescent angst, set in some contemporary context of high rise flats, bullying and school exclusions. Plenty of excuses to enjoy a few beers afterwards.

I'm now looking forward and hope to be able to organise a day trip to see the matinee of 'the Canterbury Tales' in the Swan Theatre Stratford, on a gloomy afternoon in February, so watch this space!.

Social Treasurer - Mick Nice

This year, with an annual turnover of just 611.01,we only had 12 social events. My appeal therefore is a repetition of last year's AGM, in asking for more volunteers to run more social events. My thanks as always goes to those who have ran events over the past year.

However the social account was able to subsidise 2 events, these being the Christmas meal at Queniborough and Tony Dodson's BBQ at Market Harborough. The latter of which was made possible thanks to the transferred prize money (YHA President's Awards 2004 ) from the Main Account. Both events have amassed a sum of 105.61 in subsidies given back to group members. As expected,there is an annual deficit of -31.94. But with a closing bank balance of 238.09, I'm well satisfied.

The 20 pence Administration Charge per person per social event, remains in effect at present. It applies to all social events, regardless of whether or not they're advertised in the programme, newsletter or on the website. The exceptions being Christmas and New Year parties, members' house warmings, birthday parties, weddings, etc.

Programme Secretary - Chris Hunt

As Anne has mentioned in her report, this year has once again seen a variety of events organised, ranging from a week-long foreign trip to local meals and social events. It has also been, once again, a year in which five or six members have organised the vast majority of events for the remaining ninety-five to enjoy. I do not think this is acceptable - I'm grateful to those individuals for being willing to do so much more than their fair share, but I'd rather see the workload spread more evenly.

There is a lot of help and experience on hand for anybody looking to organise their first event (or their hundred-and-first for that matter), as well as our Event Organiser's Guide. You don't have to organise a weekend away, day walk and social event organisers are if anything in even shorter supply. I'm also keen to include new types of event that we haven't covered before - that should be easy to achieve with a wider range of organisers. So, if you've enjoyed coming out with us this year, why not organise something in return next year?

I've continued to arrange the publication of programmes to coincide with group weekends - giving me a more-or-less willing workforce to help fold and distribute programmes. Be warned that the next one is due out on the Christmas weekend - so come prepared to work as well as to celebrate the festive season! We are still very short of events to take place between January and April.

The website continues to evolve. The largest development over the past year has been a new programme system that allows any member to be given a sign-on that will enable them to keep their personal details up-to-date as well as those of any events they're organising. It'll also allow somebody else to do the job of Programme Secretary in the future. Finally, I'd like to thank everybody who has run an event in the past year

Publicity Officers - Alison King & Jo Vickers

Promoting the local YHA activities has continued via the Internet, The Link, the Hospitals Intranet and posters and fliers distributed to various Leicester locations.

Also, following a visitor's suggestion, a folder with information for new members - including details and of recent and future local events, including photographs and information about National YHA is available at the Wednesday evening meeting.

This has proved helpful, as there is always a lot to try to convey to prospective new members, especially as they may initially arrive when few members are present.

In addition, this year - to celebrate 75 years of Youth Hostelling, National YHA produced their own publicity materials, which created an opportunity to advertise local and national activities at the Central Library for two weeks in April.

It was agreed to display selected information and photographs featuring different aspects of weekend and day walks, alongside the photographs and texts provided by National YHA. Prominently displayed was the local web-site address, which features the Events Diary, as well as other local information.

Copies of the Summer Programme and Newsletter were also available - as well as information from National including, Young People's Adventure Holidays, Rent-A-Hostel, and Family Accommodation.

The display from National YHA was 'on tour', having been used at other Midland locations before Leicester, after which it travelled to another destination. Those involved, felt that this was a worthwhile initiative and could be repeated on another occasion.

Overall, although most enquiries about the group still come via the Internet, a few still arise from posters and leaflets, and of course, word of mouth.

One hope for the future is that National YHA will assist the local groups by creating a local group's publicity board. This would be helpful for future events, e.g. at local libraries across Leicester, in promoting the events and activities provided by Leicester Local YHA.

Editor - Paul Jennings

My time with the Group has again been extremely limited with one weekend only to Grin Low Cottage since the last A.G.M and the venture abroad to Croatia. My unavoidable lack of attendance on weekends (and consequent inability to badger in person) is still resulting in fewer reports than in previous years. It is therefore even more important to reinforce my annual urging that reports are made in good time.

Since the last A.G.M, I have only been able to produce 3 issues of "Milestones", to which there were 5 contributors. Each Newsletter had 4 or 6 pages, apart from July which had a monster 12 pages.

The web site has been kept up to date and all editions of "Milestones" are now online back to December 1990 when I became Editor. There is much more that could be done, but it needs a significant amount of effort just to ensure that information is easy to find and there are no navigation problems within the site, or linking to other sites.

I hope to make improvements and am always open to suggestions (within reason). Unfortunately, the most obvious steps remain as in previous years. A first step would be to get more short write-ups included. A second is to ask all weekend organisers to ensure that someone is appointed before a weekend to do its write-up and that it is produced within one month of the event.

If it's time to welcome someone new to the role, then I would be happy to offer any assistance that is required. The position has always been rewarding, if sometimes demanding and has enabled me to keep in touch with Group activities, be involved on the Committee & experiment with Internet web design. Not to mention a free license to pun and insult without too much comeback (well, so far!).

Thanks to everyone who has given me so much encouragement and help over the years.

Regional Representative - Alan Summers

Twelve months ago there was genuine concern among Affiliated Local Groups that the traditional links between groups and the YHA would be discontinued. For a start the Affiliation Card was replaced with a letter stating that the above-mentioned group was an affiliated Group and entitled to the benefits of affiliation.

Then there was the problem with the proposed new charter, which was rejected at the Local Groups Conference 2004. The result of the outcry from groups the NEC decided to survey all known Local Groups both current and some apparently lapsed. Three ladies seconded from the Inland Revenue were given this task. None of these were YHA members so they came into the enquiry with a clean slate and no preconceived ideas. Gail Turner visited our group to hear the views of the committee during November last. These three secondees at the Local Groups conference in February 2005 verbally gave an interim report. In view of this I submitted that it would be an advantage to await the outcome of this report before setting up the co-ordinating committee agreed at the 2004 Conference. The report was due to be completed during September 2005. A groups meeting was suggested to take place during October 2005 to discuss the recommendations and set things in place in readiness for the 2006 Local Groups Conference. The report was completed in time but the NEC referred it back to the MVAC who in turn have asked Gail Turner to obtain the views of a select number of Local Groups on the findings and the proposed recommendations. This report is to go on to the agenda of the Board meeting to be held at the beginning of December 2005. Local Groups will continue to be part of YHA and its membership. Gail asked at short notice to arrange a meeting to get the views of members. This was held a few weeks ago at the Field Head hotel after the Viking day walk. The meeting lasted for three hours and left many exhausted. The feedback on this was that those present certainly put their point of view across and have made a great contribution to Local Groups and YHA.

For the first time in several years the Board will have an idea what local groups do for YHA apart from occupying beds and the members kitchen at several hostels throughout the year.

Leicester Group are to be proud of the fact that Gail Turner considers that our Group is one of the best groups in the country with its range of activities and the volunteering aspect of the members. You all will recall the newsletter with the article about our endeavours at Tanners Hatch Hostel. Where I painted the kitchen ceiling in the manner of Michaelangelo, and there was photographic evidence to show it. The rest of the troops tidied up the garden and Dave created a self-built bench. This resulted in the Group winning the Presidents Award for the best work at a Hostel.

Leeds group is another group, which has done good work in showing what groups get up to, and their report was published in the YHA News about a year ago. Paul Clifton of Leeds Group continues with this work making it known at every available opportunity.

I again was elected by the delegates to the Hostelling and Local Groups Conference to attend the National Conference in the capacity of a delegate representing Hostelling and Local Groups. To this end at Ambleside where this years decisions were made and the reports heard I was able to ensure that the entry forms for the Presidents Awards were posted out during October. I intend to carry on with this voluntary work for at least another twelve months as well as to go hostelling with the best group in the East Midlands. I take this opportunity to thank all those members who attended at short notice the meeting with Gail Turner at the Field Head Hotel on Sunday evening October 2nd.

The Annual General Meeting of the Central Regional Council took place at Manchester on October 29th. Dave Self and I were elected to council. Roderick Douglas elected, as Regional Vice Chairman is a member of St Albans local YHA Group.

Following the formal business of the meeting there was a prolonged discussion on the YHA strategy document in which it is proposed that failing hostels will be closed and that a 3 star rating will be the minimum rating for a YHA hostel. It was explained that a three star rating was a standard to be reached for those hostels with a lower rating. Those persons speaking clearly did not accept this explanation rather believing that this was an excuse to close hostels with less than three stars. Clearly some unpleasant decisions will have to be made in order to reduce the debt of 30 million.

However I continue to believe that local groups will continue to be part of the YHA structure but whether this will be on a regional basis or with a national co-ordinating group is yet to be answered by the YHA Board meeting to be held in December.

For anyone interested I have with me a copy of the YHA Annual Report and also the Interim National Report on Local groups.