Start a local group

Everything you need to know to set up a new local group.

10 May 2021

Before you get started, you might want to check out our most frequently asked questions to get a sense of what local groups are and what they do. 

You can get in touch on localgroups@foe.co.uk if there's anything else we can help with.

Ready to get started? Follow these three simple steps.

Step 1 - Your first few meetings

There are 2 things you'll want to start with:

  1. Deciding what your group will work on.
  2. Finding people to work with.

It doesn't have to be in that order! If you're not sure what you want to do, find people first and then decide together.

Finding people

A few tips to help you find people:

  • Talk to your friends.
  • Use our Community Mapping exercise to figure out who to approach.
  • Post something on social media. It could be as simple as “Is anybody in X town interested in getting involved to protect our environment. I would like to start a Friends of the Earth Local Group.”
  • Start a Facebook group and keep it updated. Check out our guide on using social media.
  • Create a flyer and post it up around the community.
  • Talk to local community organisations.

Then we suggest you organise a few initial meetings. These should be informal and relaxed. Pick a venue like a local cafe to ensure that people from all backgrounds and ages will feel comfortable attending.

Here are some suggestions for your first 3 meetings.

First meeting – relationships

Creating change is all about relationships. So spend your first meeting getting to know each other. Be open and make sure that everyone understands that this is what the first meeting is about.

  • Who is everyone, why are they there?
  • What are people's stories?
  • What do they want to work on?
  • What are their skills and passions?
  • What gets them excited?

You'll have loads of time to campaign. Focus on building healthy group dynamics that will carry you forward. Successful campaigns are all built on strong relationships.

Make sure you leave knowing where and when people would like to meet in the future, as well as how they prefer to keep in touch.

Second meeting – issues

Now it is time to think more about what you want to do – even if you think you already know.

As a group, answer the following:

  • What makes your heart sing? There are so many issues in the world – pick the ones that excite you and give you energy, not those that bring you down.
  • What are the problems in your area? What work is relevant locally?
  • What are other local people going to be interested in and care about?
  • Is there a Friends of the Earth major campaign that interests you?
  • What kind of activities do people want to do and which ones do they not want to do?

Working on issues that are relevant to the local community is likely to pull in more members and lead to success.

This would also be a good time to set out ground rules and agreements.

Third meeting – actions

If you haven’t yet figured out what you want to work on, revisit the questions in the second meeting.

If you do have a good idea, start thinking about campaign strategy and campaign planning. Think about other activities that will engage people and lead to some easy wins.

Some ideas might be:

  • Film screenings
  • Litter picks/ beach cleans
  • Existing demo or rally
  • Stalls (street, local festivals)
  • Blogging
  • A letter/column in the local paper
  • A stunt to raise awareness
  • A debate or public meeting

Now is also a good time to think about recruitment, retention, and roles in your group. Have another stab at the Community Mapping exercise to identify more people and groups to approach and to map our your skills and resources – and any gaps in these.

Step 2 - Getting in touch

By this point, you should have recruited a few people who are interested in starting a group with you. And hopefully you have an idea of what you'd like the group to start working on.  

Don’t worry if you haven't got lots of people. Build relationships, promote yourself and capture people’s email addresses, and you'll hopefully see your group growing quickly.

Now's the time to let us know that you'd like to become a Friends of the Earth group by emailing us on localgroups@foe.co.uk.

We'll answer any of your questions and tell you about the support we'll be providing your group going forward.

Step 3 - Making it official

Get licensed. To officially become a Friends of the Earth local group, we'll need you to:

Once that's done and you've received our confirmation that your group is now official, you'll be all set to start campaigning in the name of Friends of the Earth.

General resources