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28 September 2014 – minutes

Sunday 28 September 2014 12.00
Present (via Skype): Cilla, Ian, Elena, Sami, Sophie

This call was dedicated to discussing the co-ordinator role and associated issues.

At Edge grows, the workload grows too. It has become too much work for one part-time member of staff, but also it seems the current membership are not able to take up much of the work on a voluntary basis as most are very busy with their own work. There are some issues which we don’t seem to be able to overcome with the current structure, in particular we are struggling to recruit new members from specific communities (eg Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, migrants, trans*) and generally members who strongly share our values.

Currently Sophie is paid 3 days a week but usually works full-time. Workload varies during the year, when funding applications are coming in or are being processed there’s a lot of work requiring more than full-time hours. At other times in the year 3 days is probably about right in terms of administration, but there is other work that needs to be done, such as communications, fundraising and outreach. There is no support function for the co-ordinator at the moment, and it is quite a lonely job (especially from home in Dorset) with a lot of responsibility. Although it was proposed that we’d have a ‘Friendly Committee’ at the Leicester meeting in June, which would offer moral support and be a ‘critical friend’, this hasn’t happened. It’s also difficult to take time off as there isn’t anyone to take over the work. Sophie is also covering some of her own costs, such as travel (her choice).

It was felt that Sophie should be paid for the hours she works. However, her preference is to be paid for 3 days and to have other people paid for the other 2 days as this is more fitting with non-hierarchical values but also would then open up the possibility of having someone in Manchester or London (or even both) to do important outreach work.

We need to think about what we can afford to do and what Edge needs. Currently we have a bank balance of £138,000. After December this is likely to be around £95,000 unless we are able to raise more funds. We have a policy at the moment that says we won’t have a funding round where our balance is less than £100,000 so it may mean having less funding rounds per year. How much of our annual income do we want to spend on staff and other overheads? Is there a way of lessening the workload?

We agreed to:

  1. Set up a spreadsheet to try to estimate how long it takes to do the different co-ordinator tasks. This would allow us to potentially divide up the tasks between different people to do as either paid or unpaid work. We’ll also add to this other areas that would benefit from paid work, such as outreach.
  2. Review the salary of the co-ordinator, which is currently £11 per hour (which works out at £21,450 if full-time) and some felt was too low, especially given how much the role has changed since it was first created. This will mean thinking about whether we pay everyone the same regardless of the task, the person’s skills, experience, location etc. There is also an issue around some work being more emotionally difficult than others. We’ll look at Platform’s pay structure which is based on everyone being paid the same, but adjustments made based on need.
  3. All co-ordinator expenses should be paid by Edge from now on.
  4. We’ll send a message to members to let them know that we are currently reviewing the salary of the co-ordinator and the current staff structure and invite people to join the process or send feedback. Cilla has offered to write something that puts this all into context, particularly around living our values.
  5. Sophie would like to have a ‘support’ meeting in London every few weeks, with any members available, to have the opportunity to talk things through. This could be organised to co-incide with Working Group meetings or other events. We’ll add this to the message to members.

We aim to get this ready for a potential January meeting (after this funding round). Since Sophie is planning to take time off in December, we should try to get this done by the end of November.

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