Starting a new Group
Why do you want to start a new group?
There are several different reasons for starting a new group.
- Lack of a group in your immediate area – starting your own group is a good way to approach this problem, if you are willing to take on the responsibility.
- Wishing to move in a different direction from your current group – for example if your existing group is Viking and you wish to play a Saxon. We encourage to talk this over with your current group first and either make the group more flexible or negotiate an amicable split.
- Political differences within the group. Storming off and starting a new group as a response to a group argument is not generally the best way to begin. Before the atmosphere becomes too difficult, we encourage you to contact the High Council for assistance and we will help you deal with the situation, or negotiate an amicable split.
- You wish to play a more senior role in the Society – there are other ways you can do this, other than as group leader. Please discuss your options with the High Council before upsetting your current group hierarchy.
- You are entering our Society from another with an existing group. This we may allow after extensive consultation.
If you leave an existing group, you have several options:
- You may transfer into an existing group, with immediate effect, with the Group Leader’s permission.
- You may become a Provincial member.
- You may start to put together a thorough plan for starting a new group, but you will not be allowed to become a member of that group for 9 months or until 1st January of the following year, whichever is the longer. Normally the time will start from the member(s) leaving the original group and becoming a Provincial member but, in the case of an amicable split or a member moving into a new area lacking a group, the date may be taken from the original notification of intent to the Konungr, who has the flexibility to further reduce this period in the appropriate circumstances. New members may be recruited during this period and will be grouped in a Bjarkan (embryonic) group for administrative purposes. A Bjarkan is not entitled to representation at the Jarls Meeting; its members will be represented by the Provincials Thegn. A Bjarkan may start a bank account and organise minor shows, with High Council permission.
Once you have thought through your options, and if you still wish to start a new group, there are several things you should be aware of.
The Responsibilities of Group Leadership
The Vikings is a registered charity, and also because of the size of the organisation and the nature of our hobby, has certain legal obligations. As a Group Leader you are agreeing to take on the following responsibilities:
- You will be the Chair of the local branch of a charity, so will be expected to fulfil all the legal obligations this entails. This is largely ensuring that the accounts are properly maintained, and the group property is documented and maintained, as this is ultimately the property of the Society.
- You have a duty of care to your members. We have to maintain an audit trail to prove that members are fully paid up, i.e. covered by our insurance, and that they are properly trained to take part in our activities i.e. they have passed the appropriate tests. If you allow members to participate in activities for which they are not qualified, or without insurance cover, you are in breach of Society rules. It is therefore your responsibility to ensure the group subscriptions are paid to the society before 31st December each year so that your members remain covered by our insurance and keep track of their test passes so you know what activities they are qualified to participate in without direct supervision.
- You have Health and Safety responsibilities – you must ensure First Aid provision is in place, that your group’s activities are planned and carried out with safety as a prime consideration including completing risk assessments when required, and that all incidents are fully reported by the correct mechanism.
- You have a duty to the Society to ensure your members follow our rules, and support our events whenever possible.
- You have a duty to your members to act as their representative at the Jarls’ meeting and to act as the information channel between your group and the Society. You should therefore ensure you are on all appropriate mailing lists (Vmail and jarlsmeeting) and have an account on DocStore and know how to access all necessary documents. It is your responsibility to circulate necessary documents to members of your group.
- You are responsible for ensuring that your group’s records are correct and up to date. You, or a delegated member of your group, must have an account on AdminDB and know how to update those records.
If you are still interested in forming a group you must think about the following. The mechanics of starting a group
- Your rank – we recommend you should be of the rank of Drengr before starting a group, if only so that you have the knowledge and experience of how the Society works. If not, you should be actively working toward that rank.
- The group direction. You need to establish an identity such as the race you will represent – Viking, Saxon, Welsh…
- A group name, which should reflect your identity but could, for example, include local names such as Amounderness or Ousekjarr. The name does not need to be authentic, for example Glasgow Vikings. Before making a final decision, consult the Society Membership Officer as to what names have been used in the past – some come with a considerable amount history attached. A list of all names used since 2000 is available [here].
- Your recruiting policy – we will not recognise you as a group until you have 6 adult, paid up members. How will you attract new members, where will you advertise? Posters to help you are available from the Society Publicity Officer.
- How will you support new recruits? You need to have a mechanism in place for training new recruits, be it in combat or village skills. You need to be able to help them get kit together for their first shows and help them make appropriate purchases of expensive equipment. This is where it is useful to be on good terms with other groups in your area who may be willing to help you with training your new members and can also give advice on equipment. Do not hesitate to ask the senior officers in the Society for help and advice.
• How will you develop a good working relationship with surrounding groups? It is important to collaborate with your neighbours, rather than work in opposition. You will need their help with medium events, so it is good to work up some credit by supporting theirs. How will you ensure efforts to find both recruits and events will not overlap with theirs? This is particularly important if you have parted company with a local group under bad terms or if you are in an area which already supports multiple groups.
How does the Group become recognised by the Society?
Once you have thought about the above, write a document detailing how you will tackle each point, contact the Konungr. If your plans are acceptable, you will be given permission to start recruiting members. You will not be formally recognised as a group until
- You have six paid up adult members,
- Have appointed a Treasurer and set up a bank account (or have registered with the Society’s Treasurer as a group which does not handle its own finances). There is full documentation on Finance available on DocStore.
- You have a constitution written, agreed by your initial members, and registered with the Society.
- You have a Combat and/or LHE Training Officer and an Authenticity Officer (as appropriate) appointed and working with Society Officers. Where no such officer is appointed, the group leader is deemed to fulfil the role.
- Have demonstrated to the Konungr and High Council that it has robust plans for the group’s identity, recruitment and collaboration, as outlined above.
Once the High Council is satisfied you have fulfilled all requirements, you will be recognised as an official group within the Society. If a Bjarkan has not achieved Leđang status after 12 months, its status will be reviewed by the High Council.
There are many helpful documents which you will find on DocStore to get you started. Request a password from the Society Secretary (admin[at]vikingsonline.org.uk) to access these. Many of these are in the Department ‘Group Leaders’ to which you will be given access.