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  #21  
Old 14-01-2010
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Default Re: Membership fees?

[quote name="John Hudson"]Iíve got a reliable 4x4, class 1 business insurance, training and experience driving on and off road in a number of countries and a can do attitude? What more do I need?[/quote]



John, thanks for your comments they are constructive and we do value them but I am curious about some. Also please don't think I'm trying to put you down because I don't agree with you but you have raised some valid points that I think need addressing.



And although I am sure someone from Wessex will respond direct to you, may I apologise on behalf of 4x4 Response for the way you seem to have been dealt with on the phone. Please bear in mind the person may have been either controlling or responding themselves and possibly for several hours, not an excuse for bad manners but possibly understandable.



To take your statement above, yes you are insured when using your vehicle but membership of a group entitles you to cover under the National insurance policy that is not vehicle insurance. It is third party liability cover for when you are away from the vehicle and not only applies when responding but also when training, promoting, fundraising etc.



You talk about stopping to help people out and yes we all do it and most probably all did before getting involved in 4x4 Response. But in fact that is not what we are here for. Vehicle recovery is something we can do and obviously by being out in poor conditions, it will often find us.



But we are not recovery agencies, that's not our role. We provide reliable transport to the Emergency Services, Local authorities and other voluntary agencies. In the last week we have done a myriad of tasks from delivering meals on wheels, getting District Nurses, Health Visitors, Home Carers, GPs etc to their clients. We have got doctors, nurses, emergency services controllers, ambulance drivers and even registrars to work and we have helped evacuate vulnerable persons from their homes in power cuts, delivered essential supplies to others and helped rescue people stranded on remote upland roads (and a dozen other things I've most probably forgotten). Very few of these, if any are incidents we would just come across and have required us to be actively and specifically tasked by the appropriate agency in each case.



Which brings me to the potential problem of you (or anyone) offering your services to the authorities as an individual. This is what is known in the trade (and only partly jokingly) as the "Nutter in a Hi-Vis" i.e. the potentially uninsured, gung ho volunteer, possibly with all the gear but no idea (and no I'm not implying that's you).



OK so they can check you out but think of that for a minute. Each organisation would need to make sure you have the correct licence, MOT, insurance, training (and expect to see proof), possibly a CRB check and of course 3rd Party liability cover. It suddenly becomes a mammoth task and one that would be duplicated several times by each of them. And how do they call you out? Ten volunteers potentially means ten phone calls to make.



Or they can access your services through an organised group they already have a service level agreement with, whom they trust to have checked the legality of their members and their vehicles, have apropriate insurance, will have assessed their experience and training and have trained their members themselves. And you can call out their members by a single phone call or text message.



You can easily see which option the Emergency Planning Officer would favour and this is not conjecture on my part as I have been an Emergency Planner in Local Government and now the NHS for the last 16 years.



I am also very familiar with the work of SERV having been a member and the secretary of the EVS Bloodrunners in North East London for several years back in the 1980's and indeed my own 4x4 Response group have been backing up SERV Herts & Beds since last Wednesday. The fundamental difference is that whilst SERV don't charge membership, members do contribute their own fuel. 4x4 Response groups on the whole do get a (non profit) mileage fee paid through the service level agreements they have with user groups. Swings and roundabouts but essentially no form of volunteering is ever free to the volunteer.



I do hope you haven't been put off too much as it sounds like you could contribute a lot to your local group.



Regards



Tony
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  #22  
Old 14-01-2010
Stephen James Parker Drabble stephendrabble is offline
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Default Re: Membership fees?

Hi John , you say Wessex is your local group,



as thats the case, come along to the next Pub meeting.



5th Feb in Devizes.



in fact all people wanting to do there paper work and interview are welcome.



Steve WE32
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  #23  
Old 14-01-2010
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Bob Hatcher BobWessex is offline
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Default Re: Membership fees?

[quote name="John Hudson"]
[quote name="nigel leyland"]Do membership fees put off prospective members?



Well it seems they do...!



Given that responders have to be members, (insurance) and that the small fee that groups charge is used to run the club (which may be a charity) and in some instances is possibly subsidised......

the following may need to be addressed....



A. Do we want need members who feel that they should not "have to pay for the preiveledge of helping"?

B. Need to adjust fees (if possible)?

C. Need to state up front why the fees need to be charged and what the group provides to the member?



You're thoughts please.......



Nigel.[/quote]



As a prospective new member... I've got to say - Yes they do.



Particularly when itís not clear why they are being charged in the first place. Yes my feeling is why do I "have to pay for the privilege of helping"?



I hadnít heard of your group before this current weather "drama" and when I did hear about you guys it was from another forum and the view there also seemed to be it was a bit of a joke being expected to pay for the privilege of volunteering.



My local group would appear to be Wessex, whom I tried to contact before the weekend; the response I got from calling your published number was "Hello, what do you want?" I had to ask the guy on the other end of the phone to confirm that I had in fact reached the right number at which point I was informed he was a bit busy and could I phone back?



I appreciate that he might have been busy, but as I was calling to volunteer my services (FOC) the second impression wasnít a good one.





If you are curious about whom I amÖ Iím a biker with over 20 yearís experience. When I started, bikers stopped for each other and help out where they could (without thought of reward or herodom). This is something that has stuck with me even as a car driver, Iím more than happy to stop and help anyone out in any conditions.



A couple of years ago, while I was still living in their catchment area, I join SERV a bike group who assist the National Blood Service providing out of hours transport services 365 days a year. This group actually now run two dedicated bikes, they are always looking for volunteers and they are regularly called upon to provide their service. All they ask of their members in return is a one off £15 deposit to cover the cost kit thatís issues to each member.



Looking at the list of responders to this thread so far, you are all already members so obviously youíre all happy to keep paying a fee. Looking at the some of the responses, does it really matter if someone is a wannabe? You lot where all wannabes at one point and then at the point you actually got out and help someone, you became a hero in their eyes. Does it matter if your membership numbers donít reflect the actual active member base? In any group youíll only ever find a small core (clichť) that are always there, thatís life.



The third impression I got of your group was from the BBC report, where your driver was assisting in an MOT failing vehicle and when the reporter suggested 4x4 drivers must feel very smug about being able to get around in those conditions he agreed.



Itís only £20. Has it put me off joining? Yes. Has it put me off helping people? No. All I have done is to contact the local county council, police and ambulance services and offer my services directly.



Iíve got a reliable 4x4, class 1 business insurance, training and experience driving on and off road in a number of countries and a can do attitude? What more do I need?[/quote]



John,



Thank you for your feedback, I don't know if it was myself or one of the other members of the control team that you spoke to, but if the phrase "what do you want" was used I can only apologise, the normal answer is "Wessex 4x4 Response (name) Speaking how can we help". Unfortunately over the last week we have been dealing with calls from many user bodies and not had time to enter into protracted discussion re potential membership. Whilst any offer of help is appreciated we would never use anyone whom we have not checked via our colleagues in the Police Nor I believe would the Emergency services expect us to.



With regard to offering assistance to an individual stuck in the snow, flood, at an accidents etc. I would like to think that any person with a degree of concern for their fellows would stop and offer assistance.
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  #24  
Old 15-01-2010
John Hudson John Hudson is offline
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Default Re: Membership fees?

Tony, Alasdair thank-you for your length replies



I do agree with some of the points you have made - single points of contact, etc - and I do realise that you are not a vehicle recovery agency, neither am I. I'd equally help someone drag a rib off a beach or assist rescuing wildlife should I ever be in that position (both examples of things the Wessex Group have done recently), the only difference being you guys get a call where as I'd only be aware if I was there at the time.



Points taken about the controller probably having a bad day (I subsequently used your online contact form to forward my details, no response to that yet...), the original posting was about fees being off putting, my response was to that and the first, second and third impressions I got as a perspective volunteer.



Tony good to hear you've got experience with SERV; I know Oxon, Bucks and Northampton team have been reverting to cars and members 4x4 during recent weather. I can't comment on EVS Bloodrunners, but SERV OBN have recently acquired there third dedicated vehicle and as you say all without charging a membership fee, the dedicated bikes include insurance and fuel so qualified members are only expected to give their time. As you say volunteering isnít free



I'm still not sure about your fees = dedication equation, I guess none of you guys have gym membership otherwise they'd all go bust



Steve and Bob, Many thanks for the invite, I might take you up on that, though to be honest I was looking to help in response to the current situation as I had time and resources available to help others. Hopefully by the 5th February even the flooding will be sorted out



Bob, offers of help are what they are, mine to make yours to choose to accept of not. If you need to vet everyone offering assistance those are your rules to adhere to.



Nigel, please accept my apologies if Iíve dragged this off topic at all.
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  #25  
Old 15-01-2010
nigel leyland nigel leyland is offline
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Default Re: Membership fees?

Not a problem re "topic drift".



The piont of my posting was to explore the possible perceptions of prospective members, and membership fees seemed to be the logical starting point.....I fully expected those of us who had joined to be pro fees and have many firm views in favour of. What I was hoping for, and the reason I didn't post it on the private boards, was input from anyone who had a different perception and what we could should do. To that end John you have supplied much of what I was seeking, for which I thank you....



I think it is evident to those of us who are privy to the running costs assocciated with the response groups that until a major sponsor arrives we will financially need to continue charging membership fees, and will obviously endevour to keep them to a minimum......it is evident to me that if we had no fee then we would increase membership, and a greater percentage of those members would not be there when needed (after using valuable resources being trained/assessed/vetted etc) It is abundantly clear that at least some prospective members will ask the legitimate question, Why should I pay for the privlidge to provide assistance? And it would probably be best to already have a clear concise answer available before they simply leave without asking the question. Hopefully this thread has provided the questions and the answers.



Nigel.
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  #26  
Old 15-01-2010
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Tony Ferrari Tony Ferrari is offline
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Default Re: Membership fees?

John



Thanks for your response, again this is really useful for us.



On SERV, I perhaps should explain about the EVS. They no longer exist having folded in 1999 but predate SERV by about a year having started in 1980 and back then when SERV was only in South London & Surrey we had frequent contact and were effectively mirror images of each other. Of course Freewheelers EVS in the West Country predated both groups and are still going strong.



On the subject of dedicated vehicles, who knows where we will be funding wise in thirty years time but it is worth remembering as a National entity we are not yet two years old. Am I too early to place an order for my personal Discovery 9 :lol:
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  #27  
Old 15-01-2010
Michael Groves Michael Groves is offline
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I am not a member and have joined the forum in order to find out more about the organisation. I would just like to add that the reason I'm exploring further is that I have been impressed with the professionalism displayed by the Wessex 4x4 individuals who have featured on the local news recently. Learning more about the groups set-up, including the membership fee, has made me feel that it is well organised and professionally run. As someone who worked for the emergency services for some years, I am now naturaly wary of well meaning volunteers, and I haven't had that feeling about 4x4 Response at all. I live in the Wiltshire area and have used the Wessex website to contact them to see if I would be of any use to them. I haven't heard back as yet, but I know they've been busy.
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  #28  
Old 16-01-2010
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Bob Hatcher BobWessex is offline
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Hi Michael,



We have received your information request (10/01/10) which I have forwarded on to our recruitment officer. As Alasdair says we have had some 50 applications and a similar number of general enquiries in the last 10 days which is "slightly" over whelming our normal processes.



Can I suggest that as you have had a look around the Wessex site and if you feel happy to join us, then you might like to fill in our application form by simply hitting the "join" button or following this link.



As you may realise from your time in the emergency services there is as much if not more work to be done after an incident than there is during it but we will be in touch soon as soon as possible.
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  #29  
Old 16-01-2010
Michael Groves Michael Groves is offline
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Thanks for the welcome and info. Mario has already been in touch to let me know of the next meeting in Devizes.
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  #30  
Old 16-01-2010
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This is a subject that I continue to see cropping up all over the internet, sneering sideliners with nothing better to do finding any and every excuse to knock things - pretty day to day internet forum activity really, whatever the subject.



Besides all the associated costs of running 4x4 response I really do think a membership fee shows some dedication. It's always amazing how much interest there is during a major incident like the recent snow and ice and the floods of 2007 but its how many of those that translate to real dedicated members that really matters.



When YL first formed (then Humber-Yorks)in early 2007 we weren't exactly inundated with people wanting to join but when the floods came the membership was boosted massively. But looking back the bulk of those that joined during that time have since failed to renew.



I think John that you have misconstrued what people meant by the wannabees. Not wannabee members, but they wannabee charging around with beacons ablaze rescuing people and wannabe seen as an emergency service etc and just aren't interested in the general run of the mill logistical support that 4x4 Response is really about. Simply replacing conventional transport so that people and services can get through and continue as near to normal service as possible is very much our main function across the network. Sure there are some more active jobs too, recovering ambulances, evacuating people from a variety of places and scenarios etc. But anyway my experience is its these wannabe heroes that don't rejoin when they realise the reality of 4x4 response but they are the first to come out of the woodwork when it rains or snows.



But I think we realy ought to also look at other organisations. I believe RNLI charge a membership fee even to their crew members, Lions and Roundtable who are just charitable organisations raising money, also do.



The other argument I hear is it should be being paid for by the government - and yes it should - but who wants to pay extra taxes to fund services that are stood around doing nothing for much of the year.
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