At the Branch’s February AGM the Chair noted we continued to meet bi-monthly, alternating between our two villages. We have also entered the modern age with both a Facebook and twitter account - the Chair posts information regularly but would be pleased if another member could take on one of the two accounts!?
We held two excellent public meetings during the year - one on fracking in January which was very well attended by 150+ people, and one on the NHS with Frank Dobson MP in October. The latter had a much clearer pro-Labour message and 72 people attended, of whom about half were Labour members.
Surprisingly, we made a profit of £200+ from the two public meetings and this together with a fundraising quiz which raised £140 has left the Branch finances in good stead and enabled us to make 3 donations totalling £170 to other campaigns (MEP election & Brighton Pavillion campaign twice). We held a Christmas social which was attended by 15 members.
We distributed a leaflet from Head office together with another locally produced leaflet to most local households during the Euro-elections in May 2014 - we can be satisfied that Anneliese Dodds was elected. We held 2 street stalls in September (Hurst) and October (Hassocks) with a locally produced leaflet to publicise the NHS meeting. In the opinion of the chair these are a relatively easy and at times an almost enjoyable way of interacting with the public.
In spite of all our activity Branch membership has remained at about the 54 mark over the past two years, although sometimes rising a little higher. However, the over-riding challenge of the Branch is to get some new members regularly attending and replacing those of us who are ‘getting on a bit’ - this is the greatest threat to our continuity.
‘Learning’ from the year’s activities…
- Regular meetings - it is beneficial to have the date / place of the branch meetings decided in advance. Alternating between our 2 centres is beneficial.
- Big events – they put us ‘on the map’ but have not helped us gain new members.
- Publicity for events – old fashioned posters on notice boards etc is very important, and works in conjunction with email, twitter etc (straw poll at events were 50/50)
- Press coverage – not easy to obtain so don’t go over the top trying - do one press release. And try to follow up by phone after sending.
- Street stalls useful in engaging with public
- Locally produced leaflets / national literature (latter with sticky label branch contacts attached) is a cheap but effective way of keeping branch/LP presence known.
Hurst & Hassocks Branch Chair