Three things a local party can do for newbies

With another(!) influx of new members, it seemed time to write about some things that work for us in Harrow. They’re not unique to us, but they’re not universal either, so it seemed worth sharing.

Say hello!

Here in Harrow Liberal Democrats we try and make sure all new members — if they want — get an individual personal welcome. Our (awesome) membership secretary, or someone else from the exec, or a ward organiser, or whoever, just arranges to meet for a chat at a café/pub.

It’s a really good way to a) make sure new members feel cared about; b) get a chance to find out what their interests / skills are, what they’d like to help with, and what they’d like to see the local party doing; c) let them ask any questions — on policy, or procedures, or local information. d) give them the hard sell on the next Harrow Lib Dem Pint where they can meet more of the team.

Pints

Harrow Lib Dem Pints are monthly, entirely informal (no speakers or anything like that) and move around the borough, including at non-alcoholic venues like ice-cream cafes. Besides being great fun, they’re *incredibly* useful for networking.

Discussion list

It’s dead easy to create a private mailing list (e.g. with Google Groups). Set it up so that all members can post. This means that someone who has an idea, a worry, an alert, can share it with other members and not have all communications mediated through an Exec that may have a lot of other things to be doing. It all helps turn the local party into more of a community.

All these can really help turn someone who joined the party as a symbolic gesture into someone who feels at home in the Lib Dem family. Having met a good few people now (and meeting more later this week!) I can say that it’s also really affirming to meet someone who’s new and enthusiastic and eager to help.

Please share any other ideas from your local parties in the comments!

* Adam Bernard is a Lib Dem activist from Harrow. He works in the geekier sort of academia.

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8 Comments

  • nigel hunter 5th Feb '17 - 10:17am

    This is bang on, great info to spread around.

  • We have been less fortunate in recruitment than some Remain areas, but there has been a trickle of ‘newbies’, and we certainly email them and phone. Some have made a visit to our own Pint and Politics, but several are students, away from home a lot of the time, one as far away as China. And some seem to join in a token way, not appreciating that, for Libdems, membership really means being active. A subscription and a contact name are useful, but we need ‘boots on the ground’ or at least in the literature-producing team. Have Harrow cracked this nut?

    Paul King, Chesterfield

  • Charis Croft 6th Feb '17 - 9:07am

    Just to back up Adam on this – I’ve found all of the above great, but the discussion list is my personal favourite. Not everyone can make regular Pints or other meetings, but nearly everyone has emails and a regular drip of information on the group list helps people remember what’s going on and that we’re active, and more opportunities to get involved in different ways. And when people who aren’t the Exec post (rare, but becoming more common) it creates that social expectation of involvement too!

  • Peter Galton 6th Feb '17 - 11:20am

    All this is great, we are doing similar in Southampton and we have had many fresh faces willing to get active. However not all members will want to do as much as other. My son and daughter stood for us in 2015/16 because we were short of candidates, but they are not that active otherwise.

  • suzanne fletcher 6th Feb '17 - 7:56pm

    Just to say I’ve just spoken to one of our brand new members, and she said the party had said when she joined to tweet it, so she did, got lots of responses, was invited into Lib Dem Newbies, and is chatting in there already – and she only joined on Satruday night !

  • Simon Banks 7th Feb '17 - 11:35pm

    Good ideas here. I would add, when people show interested, encourage them. Within reason, give them their head. We’re a small local party that before the post general election surge, was in danger of dying slowly. From January our Chair, Secretary, Vice-chair and Membership Development Officer all joined during or after the general election. One of them has also taken over as Building Manager of our small premises (part of which, let out, brings in income).

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