Adopted on 28th March 2012
Amended by EGM on 19th August 2015
This constitution has been developed to set out the aims, objectives and operating processes of St Leonards Writers. Although it contains all the legal requirements of a Constitution it is deliberately written in a clear and simple way so that our procedures can be made as clear as possible to our members, partners and supporters.
St Leonards Writers
2. Aims and objectives of our group
To provide a practical support network for aspiring writers.
St Leonards Writers will be a non-political and non-discriminatory group.
3. Area of Benefit
The area of benefit is for St Leonards Writers to focus on all types of creative writing.
4. To achieve these aims we will:
4.1 Provide a regular meeting place where members can share and mutually support each other in the process of developing their writing.
4.2 Provide a meeting place for members where they can give and receive honest feedback on each other’s work.
4.3 Provide members with information and advice on getting their work published and will also disseminate information relevant to creative writers e.g: literature events, small press publications, competitions and courses.
4.4 Provide members with information on techniques and ways in which they might improve their writing ability in order to develop their work.
4.5 Provide members with the opportunity to participate in activities such as public readings and submissions to any group magazines.
5.1 Members of St Leonards Writers must be 18 years of age or older.
5.2 Membership shall be open to any person (without distinction of gender, ethnic background, disability, age, sexuality or religion, cultural, or political beliefs) who subscribes to the aims and objectives of St Leonards Writers.
5.3 Prospective members may attend their first meeting free of charge. Thereafter, a £1 subscription fee for subsequent meetings will operate. There is also a 20p charge for refreshments.
5.4 Membership fees will be non-returnable. The weekly membership fee will be reviewed annually at the Annual General Meeting
5.5 Members, for the purposes of this constitution, will be referred to as "registered members."
5.6 Any registered member of St Leonards Writers can stand for election to the Committee, provided they are not legally disqualified from acting as a Committee Member.
5.7 All registered members of St Leonards Writers are welcome to attend any sessions, events and meetings organised by the group.
5.8 Every registered member shall have one vote at general meetings.
5.9 At sessions, events and meetings, registered members are expected to behave in a reasonable manner.
5.10 The Chair will have the authority to exclude from a meeting or event anyone whose language or behaviour is offensive.
5.11 St Leonards Writers may co-opt advisors to the Committee. These cannot be officers of St Leonards Writers and they are not allowed to vote, but they can support and advise St Leonards Writers. Co-opted members cannot represent St Leonards Writers at any outside meetings or forums.
5.12 The officers of the Committee have the power to refuse membership to an applicant (or terminate the membership of an existing member) where it is considered such membership - or continued membership - would be seriously detrimental to the aims, purposes or activities of St Leonards Writers. It is envisaged that this power would rarely, if ever, be exercised, but were this to be necessary provision would be made for:-
1) Any applicant or registered member would be informed by the officers, in writing, of the grounds on which their application was refused or their membership terminated.
2) The person affected shall have the right to appeal to the Committee in writing, together with a right to address the full Committee if they choose to do so.
6. Workshop Structure
6.1 St Leonards Writers will be facilitated by its registered members or by guest speakers.
6.2 The workshop will be free format, creatively guided by the facilitator in any way he or she sees fit. There may be readings of work brought in followed by feedback from the other members. There may also be writing exercises.
6.3 The workshop will normally run from 1pm to 3pm every Wednesday, but there may be special events from time to time.
6.4 St Leonards Writers is a not-for-profit organisation. All profit is to be reinvested in publication projects, events and group facilities. No registered member will receive any finance except documented and approved expenses incurred with the prior approval of the committee. All outgoings must be fully authorised in advance by the committee, fully documented with dated receipts and descriptions.
7.1 Chair - Chairs the Committee meetings and represents the group externally. Ensures that all present at Committee meetings can contributewithout interruption or intimidation. Prepares the agenda with the Secretary and ensure that agenda items are fully discussed and implemented where possible.
Secretary - Handles correspondence and produces the rota for facilitators. Keep minutes and records. Keep all members informed. Prepares the agenda with the Chair.
Treasurer - Manages the bank account and manages the group's finances. Ensures all members receive their expenses promptly. Makes regular financial reports. Prepares accounts for the external scrutiniser. Presents externally scrutinised accounts to the AGM.
7.2 Election of officers
The officers will be elected from and by the registered members of St Leonards Writers. This election will take place at the AGM.
The officers are elected for a period of one year, but may be re-elected to the same or other position the following year.
7.3 Election of Committee
The Committee must comprise of no less than five registered members, including Officers. The Committee may comprise of more than five registered members, including Officers.
Committee members shall be elected from and by the registered members of St Leonards Writers.
Committee members are elected for a period of one year, but may be re-elected the following year. This election will take place at the AGM
7.3.1 Nominations for the election of Officers may be made in writing to the Secretary or may be nominated at the AGM.
7.3.2 Nominations for election to the Committee may be made at the AGM.
The affairs of St Leonards Writers shall be controlled by the Committee. The Committee shall meet at agreed intervals, and not less than four times a year, one of these meetings to be the AGM. At least five Committee members, inclusive of Officers, must be present at meetings in order for proposals to be passed or failed.
7.5 The Duties of the Committee
7.5.1 To control the affairs of St Leonards Writers on behalf of the registered members.
7.5.2 Have the right to represent St Leonards Writers on outside bodies.
7.5.3 The Committee can raise funds on behalf of St Leonards Writers as they see fit, as long as it is used in line with the aims and objectives of St Leonards Writers.
7.5.4 To keep accurate accounts of the finances of St Leonards Writers through the Treasurer. These should be independently assessed and passed by a qualified outside source and presented at the AGM.
7.5.5 St Leonards Writers shall maintain a bank accountand the following shall be authorised to sign cheques: any two of Treasurer and any other nominated signatory as shall be agreed from time to time at the AGM. The signatories must not be members of the same household.
7.5.6 To co-opt registered members to form sub-committees for specific purposes. These registered members may be from the Committee. Each sub-committee shall be comprised of no fewer than three registered members. Each sub-committee may be comprised of more than three registered members.
8.1 The Annual General Meeting of St Leonards Writers shall be held not later than the end of June each year. Written notice, or announcements at the weekly meetings, will be given to all registered members of the precise date.
8.2 Registered members must advice the Secretary (in writing or verbal) of any business they want raised at the AGM at least 14 days before the meeting.
8.3 The Secretary shall circulate or give notice of the agenda for the meeting to registered members not less than seven days before the meeting.
8.4 The Business of the AGM shall be to:
8.4.1 Confirm the minutes of the previous AGM.
8.4.2 Receive the independently assessed and passed accounts for the previous year from the Treasurer.
8.4.3 Receive the annual report of the Committee from the Secretary.
8.4.4 A review of St Leonards Writers activities will be given.
8.4.5 The existing Committee will stand down.
8.4.6 Elect the Officers of the new Committee from registered members.
8.4.7 Elect registered members to the Committee.
8.4.8 Any amendments to the Constitution will be voted on.
8.4.9 Review the membership fee.
8.4.10 Transact such business received by the Secretary from registered members.
8.4.11 Invite questions, comments and discussion from registered members to help steer the work and priorities of St Leonards Writers.
8.5 If there is no one willing to stand, the Committee will decide whether to start procedures to close St Leonards Writers down. Alternatively, the Committee can continue in office to try and redevelop St Leonards Writers for up to 6 months. It is the responsibility of the Committee to recruit a new Committee or formally dissolve St Leonards Writers within that period.
8.6 A Special General Meeting may be convened by the Committee or on receipt by the Secretary of a request in writing from not less than 3 registered members of St Leonards Writers. 21 days notice of the meeting shall be given.
8.7 An Extraordinary General Meeting, open to all registered members, will be convened if 50% or more of the registered members request this in writing to the Secretary, stating their reason for wanting one. The Secretary will ensure that the meeting is held within 28 days and that all registered members are given prior notice.
8.8 Decisions made at any meeting will be done by a vote. At least five Committee members must be present, inclusive of Officers. In the event of equal votes the Chair shall be entitled to an additional casting vote.
9. How will people know what has been decided?
9.1 We will keep minutes of all meetings of St Leonards Writers.
9.2 We will note down what has been agreed or decided and who is responsible for any action points involved in that decision. The minutes will be presented to the next meeting and have to be approved.
9.3 Any registered member has the right to read the minutes of any Committee meeting.
10. Equal Opportunities Statement
10.1 We want people from different backgrounds and with different experiences to be part of St Leonards Writers.
10.2 We strive to make St Leonards Writers a place where anyone can feel welcome and safe.
10.3 We will challenge any remarks or behaviours that cause offence and make some people feel unwelcome.
10.4 We will do our best to overcome any obstacles to people in giving their view or getting involved with St Leonards Writers.
10.5 St Leonards Writers will not permit the display of items or materials which may cause offence or can be interpreted as being party political.
10.6 St Leonards Writers will not permit the display of flags, posters or other similar material, whether it be displayed in the workshops or printed in any literature St Leonards Writers produces. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Committee for artistic purposes i.e. Book covers.
10.7 St Leonards Writers recognise that people from under-represented groups may face discrimination in voluntary activities, training opportunities and service provision. St Leonards Writers recognise that in planning and implementing an event, project or training it should, wherever possible, ensure equal access in line with this policy. St Leonards Writers are open to the inclusion of under-represented groups and individuals with a view to encourage their participation in St Leonards Writers.
10.8 St Leonards Writers will endeavour to ensure that all its activities, projects, training and services attract people from all sections of the community.
11. How to change the Constitution
The Constitution may only be amended at an AGM or at an EGM. If any registered member wants to make changes to this document, they have to put them in writing and send them to the Secretary before the meeting. The Secretary will let all the registered members know prior to the meeting that a change to the Constitution will be on the agenda. Changes to the Constitution must not weaken St Leonards Writers commitment to equal opportunities.
12. How we can dissolve St Leonards Writers?
12.1 St Leonards Writers may only be dissolved at a general meeting.
12.2 All registered members have to be informed that a decision about the future of St Leonards Writers will be on the agenda.
12.3 It is the responsibility of the outgoing Committee to ensure that all registered members are informed in advance of the meeting and its purpose.
12.4 A proposal to dissolve St Leonards Writers will only be carried if agreed by two thirds of the registered members present or if St Leonards Writers is unable to form a Committee.
12.5 All outstanding bills will be paid.
12.6 Funders will be contacted, and where appropriate, funding will be returned to the relevant funder.
12.7 The remaining funds and possessions will be donated to a not for profit group in the Hastings and St Leonard’s area whose work most closely aligns with the aims and objectives of St Leonards Writers.
13 What we can do if details are not clear?
Any interpretation of this document or any additional points not covered as yet will be decided by a majority vote of the Committee and ratified by a general meeting. The question should then be referred to the next AGM in the form of an amendment to the Constitution.
NB: Items shown in italics are changes made to the Constitution as a result of the Meeting held 19th August 2015.
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