Directors Report for RNHWA AGM 2.6.21.

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Cinco Ranch AGM:  2nd June, 2021

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can you buy Lyrica over the counter 2020-21:  A Year of Challenges

2020 – and indeed the months leading up to and following that year –  has been  a time of considerable and perhaps unprecedented challenge for the Association.

The Coronavirus pandemic brought meetings to a halt, and made communications in general very difficult. In particular, access to Oakham Police Station was no longer possible for the collection of information for the smartphone app, and for a time there were no new alerts going out on it.

Lack of finance continued to be a handicap, and desired improvements to the app and the website were not possible.  There were no funds for routine administration costs.

Our limited company status placed obligations upon us which our slim manpower resources were stretched to meet.  Efforts to mobilise additional volunteers proved fruitless.

Some NHWs fell by the wayside, and the overarching body of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland NHW collapsed completely.

2020-21:  Successes

Happily, the Association did enjoy some successes, and here I must pay tribute to my fellow Directors for the hard work and commitment they have continued to show throughout this testing period.  Ruthven Horne, in particular, has worked tirelessly and with huge appetite and purpose throughout his three years as Chairman.  He retires from the Board at the end of the calendar year and his departure will leave an empty place on the team sheet which few could be expected to fill.

The Board was swift to take up the opportunity offered by the free Zoom facility and has been meeting on a monthly basis for much of the year.  It is thanks to Zoom, of course, that we are able to meet this evening.

Communications were established with the new Police Inspector for our area, and we are grateful to Inspector Audrey Danvers for the positive interest and support she has offered to our Association.  The loan of a police laptop in particular proved a godsend, enabling Russ to keep tabs with reported incidents on a daily rather than weekly basis, and thereby significantly improve our Alerts output on the smartphone app.

We have also been able to meet more than once with Rupert Matthews, our new Police & Crime Commissioner.  His experience of and expressed interest in NHW have been refreshing and we can, I believe,  look forward to a fruitful partnership during his period of office.

Rutland County Council through the Crime & Safety Partnership has continued to fund the maintenance fees for the smartphone app, for which we are most grateful.  We are grateful too to the parishes who responded positively to our appeal to Parish Councils for general funding, though we had hoped for wider support than we received.  Most pleasing of all, we managed to secure the support of the Uppingham Coop, which nominated us as one of their three chosen charities for the year 2021. This promotion is still under way as I speak and is likely to bring us in the area of £2,000 by the end of the year, to be spent on development and promotion of the smartphone app and the Rutland NHW website.

After seemingly endless correspondence  and form-filling, we succeeded finally in changing our legal status from Limited Company to Charitable Incorporated Organisation.  We are grateful to our new Financial Director, David Wheeler, for his determination and persistence in getting this change over the line, and we look forward to the benefits that it will offer.

Finally, we have had some limited success in our recruitment. As well as David, we have been pleased to have the services of Berni Simcock as our Data Manager, with specific responsibility for uploading information onto the smartphone app.  We also look forward to the IT advice and support which Phill Davis has kindly consented to make available to us

2021 and Beyond: Watershed?

 It is my belief that 2021 will be something of a watershed for Rutland NHW.

In many ways, we are better placed than for some time with regard to the future.  We have 30 or more villages across the county which have an active NHW presence in some shape or form.  We have better relations with Police management than for some years, and express support for NHW and for the smartphone app.  For the first time in years, we have the funds to finance overdue development work.

We have a new Police and Crime Commissioner, who has voiced an intent to give greater support to rural areas and who believes in the role which NHW has to play in crime prevention.  And we have a simpler structure, which will make fewer demands of the Association, both financially and bureaucratically.

For all these strengths, there are an equal and perhaps more formidable number of weaknesses, which together threaten the very continuity of the Association.

Many of our NHWs rely on the commitment of single, often aging, activists, and it can be difficult to find replacements when circumstances require them to pass on the baton.  We have lost significant  NHWs in Cottesmore, Empingham and Exton, to give three examples, as well as in the township of Oakham.

Our flagship smartphone app is wholly dependent on police support, which, if withdrawn, would leave us without access to the crime information which is its lifeblood.  We wholly depend on the Police not only for the loan of the laptop, which enables volunteers to work from home, but also for their consent to volunteers accessing confidential police records.

The additional funds which have come our way are for the most part ring-fenced, and can only be used for specific purposes, namely the maintenance and development of the app and our website.  We still have no guaranteed source of funding to cover the everyday administrative costs that any organisation of our kind requires.

Most important of all, we desperately require additional volunteers to fill positions being vacated this year and to maintain the successful working of our flagship smartphone app.

In particular, we need 2 – 3 additional volunteers to gather and enter crime information for the smartphone app;  a minimum 1 and preferably 2 -3 additional volunteers to serve as Trustees; and, ideally, a further 2-3 volunteers to tackle various operational aspects of the organisation, eg fundraising,  website management, membership liaison and recruitment.

Successful recruitment of the above would enable Rutland NHW Association to be a fully functioning collection of active NHWs across the county, all linked together by an effective communications network.  It would boast a revitalised smartphone app, effectively relaunched to significantly increase the number of users across the county, together with a redesigned website, acting as an information resource for both coordinators and residents.  We would have secure finances, such that we are not left wondering from year to year whether we can continue to operate, and provided by new sources, including wider numbers of parish councils, perhaps  the Police and Crime Commissioner, and other charitable foundations.  And, most important, there would be a full strength Operations team to cover functions such as fundraising, membership coordination and liaison with parish councils, IT management and development projects.

This is the sort of organisation I would like to see and which the NHW movement in Rutland deserves.  It is the sort of organisation I would be prepared to give up time to lead and continue to chair. But it is a model that can only be sustained if I have a team of committed volunteers to work with me.  At the end of this year, Russ Horne will stand down from his responsibilities within the Association, leaving just myself and David Wheeler, our Finance lead, as Trustees

If we are unable to recruit additional volunteer help, then we will have to wind up the CIO and exist instead merely as a loose-knit association (note the small initial letter A) of individual and independent NHWs, meeting at most once each year and possibly also in local Cluster groups, where NHWs form them.  The smartphone app will have to be abandoned and the website closed down.  NHWs will be totally reliant on the Police for crime information and support.  And internal communications will have to be by simple email, with at most one of us maintaining a circulation list of all active NHWs. Better than nothing:   but not much better, and a model that is likely to see NHWs wither away over time, until the county has little or no NHW presence at all.


We have asked for additional volunteers at each one of our AGMs in recent years, but noone has been willing or able to step forward.  Most of us have other commitments already, we are all busy people.  And so I am not expectant of a rush  to sign up from those who are present this evening (though please feel at liberty to prove me wrong!).

But what does seem to me to be a possibility we could hope for  is that we could between us find the volunteers we need from our friends and associates in our home NHW groups and villages. If we cannot volunteer ourselves, we need to find others who will do so.  And we all need to accept responsibility for doing this.  That is, if we place any value at all on the continuity of the Association as we know it.

So I am asking all members, over the next couple of months, to give serious thought  to this issue and to whom you might approach to join us. What we are looking for is a group of individuals who are willing to give us their interest, their commitment and some of their time, who have general communication and management skills and a basic level of technical ability.  Willingness to undergo some basic training will also be necessary for those who offer to join the app team and act as information gatherers and/or processors.

I am proposing a September Summit, at which we will review the number of volunteers who have come forward and the resources at our disposal.  This will enable us to have a full and frank discussion about 2022 and beyond, and what structure we will go forward with in the New Year.  I intend to call an EGM in October, where members will be asked to ratify the outcomes of this Summit.  It is our intention to have the future of the organisation decided upon in this calendar year, and to have any steps that may be necessary taken before the year is out and whilst the present full complement of Trustees is in place.

Adrian Gombault

on behalf of the

Directors of Rutland NHW Association

June 2021