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When Hastings Independent Press held its first Annual General Meeting, it made sure that the event tapped into the experience and knowledge of its volunteers to allow them to have that voice.

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“The newspaper is produced and distributed using only volunteers.” Andrew Ward of Get On With Business said “These volunteers come in all ages and from all different backgrounds. They also have, collectively, a wide range of knowledge and experience which they use for the benefit of the paper”.

Harnessing these ideas and knowledge was the remit of the Open Forum which followed Hastings Indpendent Press first Annual General Meeting.”

The event was facilitated by Andrew Ward of Get On With Business and run around Five key topics identified with a champion appointed for each. People could wander to those they felt they could contribute to, either staying at one only or moving around as they felt appropriate. After the allocated time, each champion gave a brief feedback as to the findings. Analysis was left to later and a small team to co-ordinate so as not to prolong the evening.

The organisation of the event tapped into the fact that all the volunteers have a drive for the paper to be successful but that for some the “controlled, workshop environment” is unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable. Hence by structuring the introduction to set the scene along with allowing people the freedom to contribute as they wished removed many of the concerns and allowed a positive feedback.

The Paper is  now beginning to implement the ideas raised and giving feedback to the team at the weekly meetings or in their e-communication. This is also raising more ideas that are being collected and analysed for possible action.

Organisations which use mainly volunteers to run their businesses, face a whole range of different challenges to those companies who employ staff. Ensuring that these volunteers have an active voice is one way of achieving success.