How to set up and run a re-use forum

15th June 2016

This guide will help you to identify what can be achieved, engage with stakeholders, set up frames of reference and an action plan.  It includes examples and case studies of re-use from across the UK and a handy 'lessons' learnt' section.

Highlights
How do we work in partnership?
Why set up a forum and what can be achieved
Examples of forums from around the country
Organisation, managment and resourcing

Video



Introduction

A Re-use Forum or Network in this guide is a group of organisations that are involved in the collection and distribution of second hand goods, typically in a country or sub-regional area.  These goods may include household and office furniture, electrical items, clothing & textiles, bicycles, general household goods, toys and paint.

If re-use is set as a strategic priority then a Re-use Forum can be a good way to deliver defined aims and objectives. This can be either the Forum acting by itself or incorporated into existing networks with wider agendas.

Why set up a forum and what can be achieved

If re-use is identified as a strategic aim for your local authority, then a Re-use Forum can be a useful vehicle for achieving this. 

It can facilitate the bringing together of relevant stakeholders to help deliver objectives.  Moreover regular face-to-face, or even virtual meetings, can build working relationships and result in ideas and outcomes that indvidual parties might not have foreseen or been able to implement on their own.

Identify stakeholders

Re-use activities are of interest to a variety of stakeholders.  Membership of a forum is generally targeted at organisations and individuals who can help deliver the aims and objectives of the group.  Examples are provided in the guide.

Engaging with stakeholders

When stakeholders are identified, initial engagement can begin through: phone calls and emails, site visits (to potential members in person to explain the forum idea), round table meetings and workshops, and events.

Persuading people to find time to attend meetings can sometimes be difficult.  It is important to make personal contact with a representative from each stakeholder organisation to explain clearly the potential benefits of participating and the important role they could play.

Organisation, management and resourcing

The amount of work needed to be done will depend on how ambitious your Forum is.  Initially, establishing a series of meetings and the administration behind them can take around a day a week (for one person) for a meeting every six weeks.

If you are successful in agreeing an action plan within the initial 2-3 meetings, then this should give you a good idea about future workload, priorities and resources. 

 

Monitoring and evaluation

To begin with, following through an action plan for a Forum can be enough to monitor progress.  However, once a Forum is more established, it is useful to adopt a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Member Commitments. 

It is important to remember that you may have soft targets which might not be captured in specific KPIs, such as stopping a project from closing, or building trust in the re-use sector from the public.  An attitudinal survey could capture the latter, while the former may need to be included in a narrative (e.g. a case study for use in a Forum report).

Lessons learnt

This section contains a number of lessons learnt by various Forums from around the country and can be useful to bear in mind when developing your Forum.