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I was at a regional RSA Connect event a few weeks ago and I was asked to talk about the Fellowship Council (FC). At the start, I asked the Fellows present if they had heard of the Council. 10% put up their hands. When I asked them what it did, no one knew.

So, I am starting my blogging with a plain English guide to what we do. The Council has been going for many years, but in this incarnation we are in our 6th year and changes have happened in that time.

At the moment this is what we do:

  • Consult - the FC is consulted by staff and Trustees when they want to gauge the likely views and issues of the Fellowship on projects and ideas.
  • Champion - the FC acts a champions for the RSA promoting the key themes and the ethos of the organisation.
  • Conduit -  it listens to Fellows ideas and concerns, wherever they are in the nation, and reports back to the staff/Trustees as and when appropriate. 
  • Share good practice - so that the wheel isn't reinvented, and so that Regions/Nations can learn from each other to the benefit of all Fellows.
  • Engage - spend time with the Fellows in the Regions/Nations and actively encourage the development of networks and projects, especially within the RSA's key priorities. 
  • Nominate - support the work of the Fellowship Department by encouraging non-Fellows to join the RSA.
  • Governance - the FC is the RSA channel to which the Regional/Nations team is responsible and therefore the running of the Regions/Nations, including Development Plan, peer review, Annual Conferences and Annual Reports. It is also the body responsible for any issues that arise in the regions, within the scope of the work of the Regional Teams. 

I am in my second term of being the elected Chair of the Fellowship Council and a Trustee as a result. I joined the RSA twenty years ago and for almost half that time I was Chair of the South East Region from when it was first constituted. My own expertise is in public service and sustainable communities and everything literary and cultural.

Being so involved in my region was a great way to understand what the Fellows were up to and what they wanted from the RSA. Being Chair of the Council has helped me unpick the workings and ethos of the RSA’s engine. These points of view have been the basis of my thinking about the direction of the Fellowship Council.

I guess my bottom line is that we are a bridge between the needs of the Fellows out there and the central work of the RSA. Sometimes our respective priorities are different. Sometimes we run parallel, but wouldn’t it be great if the RSA key areas of work were taken on board by the Fellows and you helped move them forward. And, for the Trustees and Executive to absorb the energy of the Fellows and use their skills, expertise and address books to help the change aims happen. I believe we are getting there. To adapt the Nike slogan – with goodwill and mutual respect - we can just do it!

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