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The RSA was born out of London coffee shop some 260 years ago with a mission to facilitate positive social impact. As the Society grew in influence, it began to attract people from outside of London who brought with them an influx of new ideas and expertise. This regional network fast became a crucial source of activity and inspiration, so while RSA House remains a hub for Fellows today, we are committed to improving the Fellowship experience at the local level and supporting Fellows in the regions to have greater impact.

In response to some of the feedback provided by you, a sub-committee of the Trustee Board and Fellowship Council has been working over the past six months to find better ways to give support to you locally.

Changing the boundaries

England is currently divided into 11 regions, based largely on NHS boundaries from the late 1990s. We used these boundaries as a guide when establishing the regional network but, as the network has evolved, we have outgrown these boundaries. They do not reflect the way that you want to connect with other Fellows in the 21st century.

The three Nations – Wales, Ireland and Scotland will stay the same. England will be divided into five areas, rather than the current 11 regions, from which Fellowship Councillors will be elected. We realise that the new areas will cover a larger geographic space so there will now be three Fellowship Councillors per area. We will aim to ensure the Councillors are spread across the area so there is good geographic coverage. 

The Fellowship Council

The current Councillor and Chair roles manage their regions and nations. There are large administrative elements to the roles with expectations of plans, reports, team meetings, financial oversight, annual conferences and so on.

The new role of the Fellowship Councillors in each area will be focused on enabling and supporting local activity.

They are outward facing roles with time spent helping other Fellows get activity off the ground, whether that’s events, networks or projects. We want to take away the administrative element so that Fellowship Councillors can focus on this support. Some Fellowship Councillors have already moved in this direction and have shown how effective it can be, which has helped lead us in this direction.

The Council will continue to have the same remit as before, set out in the Fellowship Council Terms of Reference, namely to advise the RSA from the perspective of the Fellowship, to help and encourage Fellowship activity on the ground and to provide a two way communication channel to Fellows and to the organisation. The Fellowship Council will also provide strategic direction in supporting Fellows in their areas, including funding priorities. 

Wales will also have a National Advisory Board.  The two Welsh Fellowship Councillors will sit on the board.

What does this mean for local networks and groups?

Local networks and groups will have more support to carry out their activities. Fellowship Councillors will be more focused on supporting local activity (though we recognise that some currently undertake this work), as will staff. Clearer guidelines will be developed for how local groups are able to access funding for meet ups, events and local projects. 

Fellowship Council: 

The Fellowship Council will consist of 27 Fellows, rather than the current 40. This will be made up of:

- 2 area councillors from each of the nations (6)

- 3 area councillors from each English area (15)

- 6 thematic councillors, 2 per RSA thematic area (6)

There will no longer be Regional Chairs (apart from the nations, see below) as the focus is on enabling and supporting rather than managing and administration. 

Thematic Fellowship Councillors

Six thematic councillors will be selected based on their high-level expertise and ability to contribute to our thematic areas, currently Public Services and Communities; Creative Learning and Development; and Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing. See below for more information about how these roles will be selected. 

How will the new Fellowship Council elections work?

Any Fellow may put themselves forward to stand as an area Fellowship Councillor, along with supporting information for their suitability for the role (as currently happens). A panel of Trustees and Fellowship Councillors will review all applications and put a star against those people who most closely match the experience sought. All candidates will still be put forward for election to allow Fellows to choose whichever candidates they wish. The candidates receiving the most votes in each area will be elected.

Thematic Councillors will be selected by a panel of Trustees and Fellowship Councillors based on their expertise, and ability to contribute to taking the organisation forward, in their thematic area.

Annual Conferences

Currently each region and nation is expected to hold a regional annual conference. The desire is to open this process up, with any Fellow being able to host an RSA Fellowship Conference in their area. We will develop guidelines for the process to do this.

It is also recognised that the most active Fellows often wish to get together to share good practice, discuss what is happening in their areas and network between themselves. Therefore we will provide opportunities for this to happen.