24 November 2017
I love Autumn. I enjoy the heaviness of fresh mud on my boots and admiring the Holly, Hawthorn and White Bryony berries in the hedgerows. I have been lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful walks with fellow Ramblers since I last wrote to you. I spent a marvellous day in the Eastern Peak District with Jez Kenyon (area chair of South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire Ramblers), the Sheffield 40s and other groups. We climbed the gritstone outcrops and swayed our way across Burbage Brook on a rope swing. The views were magnificent and the company equally so.
I had a similarly stimulating time when I joined Mike Church (trustee and area chair of West Riding Ramblers) at his area council and accompanied the Take a Hike group on a wonderful woodland and canal walk around Calverley. I learnt a great deal from both areas - about what is working well and what is not working so well - and I am grateful to everyone who joined us and shared their insights. In Sheffield and Leeds we discussed how we are keen to continue to enhance communication across the Ramblers. Both areas think our collective dialogue is improving but we all agree that there is more to do. The communication group which I established earlier this year has now developed a full understanding of our opportunities in this regard and I have included an update on this topic in this newsletter.
This monthly newsletter is one of the ways in which we have been starting to improve our collective conversation. It is a blunt instrument, but we need to start somewhere! Encouragingly, I have received lots of positive feedback about how helpful it has been to many of you over the last eleven months. During this time it has also become clear that some areas are unable to cascade it. In parallel, we have also been preparing for the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) requirements which come into force next May. A full update on GDPR is included later in this newsletter. As a result, from next month I will send this newsletter direct to active volunteers with email addresses rather than asking areas to continue to cascade it, until we are able to provide more specific and targeted local and national communication tools.
Sending this newsletter directly to recipients in future will ensure that all individual mailing preferences are respected and prevent any accidental un-subscription. It will also help the Ramblers to gain valuable intelligence about supporters’ engagement levels e.g. what platform this newsletter is viewed on and whether it is opened. We are now developing an exciting new data transformation programme which you can read more about in this newsletter - which will expose this kind of valuable intelligence more fully. By sending this newsletter directly to recipients in future, we can pool this intelligence and build a national picture, which will help us to improve communication and start to reverse our longstanding membership decline through better understanding and targeting of our supporters.
Other news this month includes a fantastic announcement about our partnership with the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL). We are delighted to have been invited to join a small number of top flight charities (such as Amnesty, UNICEF, Water Aid and WWF) in operating our own society lottery. This lottery is promoted and managed by PPL and we will have our own draws in their draw calendar. It will provide significant new income for the Ramblers to utilise to help everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot. As well as information about PPL, I have also included a link to our new business plan in this newsletter, as approved by the trustees in their last board meeting. And it would be great if you have time to join in our conversation about the future of access, through signing the petition and completing the survey.
In staff news this month, Christine Grant, our Director of Services, will be moving on at the end of February, to take up her dream job as Director of Finance and Professional Services at Girlguiding UK. Some of you have worked closely with Christine over the past five years, and I know that you will want to join us in thanking her for her great service to the organisation and wishing her the very best of luck in her new adventure. And finally, I have promised myself I will not mention Ch….mas until December, but I know that many of you are currently preparing for our wonderful Festival of Winter Walks. I hope the refreshed toolkit linked to this newsletter will help you to publicise your festival activities and please do look out for our “i” newspaper supplement on Saturday 2 December…
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 7339 8578
New business plan - please let me know if you have any feedback
New General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) - please start to prepare…
In May 2018 GDPR introduces new requirements for all organisations that manage personal data. This involves more stringent requirements around obtaining consent to contact people. We need to ensure that volunteers and staff alike are complying with the legislation. Over the coming months we’ll be introducing and sharing new procedures, guidance and support on what you need to do to prepare for the new laws. If you collect or process any personal data as part of your volunteer role in the Ramblers, now is a good time to take a look at our data protection policy to make sure you’re fully up to date before the new GDPR guidance is rolled out. The policy can be found here.
If you’d like to read more about GDPR, we liked this article. The ICO also has a good guidance document, which can be found here. Please can you start to get prepared by:
1. Discussing how you manage personal data within your area/group.
2. Making a list of what personal data you currently collect and why you collect it.
3. Documenting who is currently responsible for updating and deleting the personal data you collect.
4. If you have a website, review online privacy policies and check they match what happens in practice.
5. Make sure your area/group does not collect or store any personal data relating to children.
6. Do some data housekeeping: delete any personal data you currently hold which is no longer required.
Please also remember that membership data may only be used for the following purposes:
• Managing membership status and subscriptions.
• Providing effective and appropriate membership services.
• Communicating with members with regard to organisational issues.
• Undertaking research e.g. to ensure services and benefits are tailored to members’ needs.
• Promoting Ramblers’ events and campaigns.
• For Ramblers groups to arrange holidays with group members.
Data transformation - please let us know if you would like to help us with this work
Communications group update - please let us know if you would like to be kept informed
When I first joined the organisation a little under a year ago, everyone – staff, volunteers and members alike – told me that communication is our biggest issue. This point was reinforced by the comprehensive volunteer area and group infrastructure survey which many of you contributed to last year. This survey showed that our ability to communicate with members by email was widely emphasised as the most pressing need for future development (followed by associated improvements to systems for managing member information). 74% of groups and areas said improved member communications would be helpful. I set up a communications working group of staff and volunteers in May of this year to start to address these issues and to help us to improve our collective dialogue in the future.
The communications group has spent the last six months exploring the issues and has realised that poor communication is actually a symptom of other issues across our organisation. As a result, we have now agreed to focus the work of this group over the next three years on:
• transforming our data management capabilities (as outlined above)
• gaining much better insight into the needs of our volunteers, members and supporters
• re-engineering our planning processes, which are currently too complex and drawn out in some parts of the organisation, and too simplistic and short-term in others
• improving staff dialogue with, and across, our key volunteer functions/networks, from walk leadership through to path maintenance and everything in between!
People’s Postcode Lottery - the Ramblers are now operating our own society lottery
Since 2016, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised a fantastic £700,000 for walkers. Their amazing support is helping us to create happier, healthier communities, by inspiring more people to take up walking and by helping to protect the places we all love to walk. Last year, players supported the creation and delivery of Walk About, our summer walking festival and an amazing 24,500 people joined a group walk.
This year players have supported the Ramblers Cymru Big Welsh Walk which encouraged walkers to challenge themselves and conquer the legendary landscape of Ceredigion. Next month, players support will help to get more people out walking during our upcoming Festival of Winter Walks. You can find out more about the Festival in an associated item within this newsletter.
Players support will also help us to deliver our summer walking festival in 2018. This will ensure that even more people will have the opportunity to experience the benefits of walking and explore the joys of the great outdoors on foot.
The future of access - please complete the petition and the survey and share the new guide
Last month in this newsletter we asked you to help us to celebrate 800 years since the Charter of the Forest, a seminal moment in our access journey. Thank you to all of you who shared your woodland walks with us. As you are aware, we are using this anniversary to start a conversation about the future of access and to build a base of supporters to join us in championing improved access to the countryside. As part of this work, we are now working closely with our area access volunteers to help us to gather and review evidence. In any areas where we do not have a known and identified access volunteer, we are making contact with the chair in the first instance to ensure all areas get a chance to feed in.
We promised to share our new petition with you this month. Almost 8,500 people have already signed it and over 2,500 people have completed the accompanying survey. But we still want to reach more people, and in order to do that we need your help in:Asking people to sign our petition to call on the government to increase woodland access.
- Asking people to sign our petition to call on the government to increase woodland access.
- Asking people to share their views on the future of access by completing our survey.
- Helping more people to enjoy their existing rights by sharing our guide to open access
Festival of Winter Walks - please look out for the toolkit and i newspaper supplement
As mentioned in the PPL item earlier in this newsletter, promotion of this festival is underway, please look out for an eight page supplement in the “i” newspaper on Saturday 2 December, which is dedicated to the Festival of Winter Walks and celebrates the wonders of winter walking. The festival will also be profiled on the “i” website at the same time, encouraging people to get involved. To help you publicise your festival activity, our festival toolkit has been updated with new resources, including the festival logo, poster template, press release template, and visual identify guidelines. Please take a look and use the resources wherever appropriate when promoting your festival activities.
Don’t Lose Your Way - please note we have appointed a new project manager
Network Rail - please note there will be a delay to the public inquiry
On 20 October, during the third day of the month-long inquiry into the proposed closure of many level crossing footpaths in and around Essex, an announcement was made that the inquiry would have to adjourn until 2018. Network Rail, promoter of the closures, had not given statutory notice to some of the owners of the affected land, and the adjournment was necessary to enable this to be done. We have since learned that the inquiry may not be resumed until May 2018. We will obviously keep you posted on any further developments. In the meanwhile, thank you for all your support with our fundraising appeal to help towards our legal fees at the inquiries - we’ve already raised close to £5000 which is amazing!
Shared use (England and Wales) - reminder that consultation closes on 27 November
“Walkable” places - new report launched with the Local Government Information Unit
As the pressure to deliver more housing increases, we are keen to start a public conversation about the kind of places we want built rather than just the number of houses delivered.
With this aim in mind we’ve teamed up with the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) to publish a new report investigating how local authorities are working with developers to make places more ‘walkable’. We have just held a panel discussion in the Houses of Parliament which attracted local government, developers, planners, MPs and like-minded organisations to discuss the findings of the research and the Ramblers’ new policy on urban walking. For more information visit our website here.
High Ham - please note the update on this case
Readers of this newsletter may remember that we learned back in August that, despite carefully-argued objections from the Ramblers and others (like the British Horse Society, with whom we were working), the Inspector acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had decided to confirm an order to delete a public right of way at High Ham in Somerset, on the basis that it must have been put on the definitive map by mistake, decades ago. This was unfortunate, as it was a picturesque and strategic route; and it was Ramblers’ volunteer Stan Marriott who had this path registered in the 1950s. We believed that the Inspector had misapplied the law, effectively making us prove the existence of the right of way now when the evidence available in the 1950s was no longer accessible. We sent a letter-before-action to the Government Legal Department asking them to consider whether the Inspector’s approach was correct.
Clipstone, Nottinghamshire - please note that Ramblers have secured a new path
In a more encouraging development, Nottinghamshire Ramblers, in collaboration with Clipstone parish council, have won a new, strategic path 863 metres long, which, in combination with other paths makes a good circular walk for local residents. Walkers can now step off a bridleway called Clipstone Drive, walk alongside some attractive woodland, Garibaldi Plantation, down to the river Maun, and return a different way through a nature reserve on another bridleway, past a series of ponds, Spa Ponds.
The basis for this path to be recognised was long use by the public, but it was bedevilled by all sorts of legal complications: the land was Crown Land, to which the Highways Acts (under which rights of way are usually proved) do not apply, so we had to rely on the arbitrary rules of ‘common law dedication.’ Nottinghamshire Council rejected the application on that basis, but our volunteers, led by Steve Parkhouse, appealed to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State agreed that there was at least a prima facie case for this, so ordered the council to make an order. The landowner objected to this, so the matter fell to be determined by an Inspector. To prove ‘common law dedication’ we have to be able to show that for at least some point in time during the period of use, the land was in the possession of somebody with the capacity to dedicate a right of way; and the Forestry Commission - occupiers of the land during most of the material period of public use - appear not to have capacity to dedicate.
Group Walks and Events Manager (GWEM) - please note the system updates this month
Walk leader checklist - please note there will be some delays in order fulfilment
Area AGMs - please let us know if you have further support requirements and/or feedback
Area chairs and secretaries induction - please let us know if you would like to attend
If you are an area chair or secretary from a Ramblers England area and new to your role, please join us 7 to 8 February at the Ramblers London (Vauxhall) office for an induction session. The induction will run from mid-afternoon on day one (including an optional walk and dinner) until around four o’clock on day two. If you are a volunteer who is stepping down from an area role, please let your successor know about this opportunity. Area chairs and secretaries who came to past inductions have told us that they found them very useful and would strongly recommend the session to others. They also gave us feedback which we have used to continually improve the induction.
And in Scotland, Ramblers Scotland are planning a further Area Leadership Development Day in Scotland next March and chairs will be contacted in the coming weeks to find out their availability.
Ramblers Christmas cards and other gifts - please visit our online shop!
If you’re looking for Christmas cards and gifts this Christmas - look no further. You can visit our online shop to browse for great gift inspiration. You can choose from a selection of Christmas cards and other Ramblers products. Every purchase you make will help to fund our charitable work to improve walkers’ rights and protect the places we all love to walk.
Ramblers Cymru - please note the date for Welsh Council 2018
Ramblers Scotland - update on our Mountains of the Mind initiative
More than 300 people enjoyed a wonderful evening of inspiring photography and talks in Edinburgh this month, raising £2,000 in the process. Edinburgh Young Walkers (EYW) organised the Mountains in Mind exhibition to highlight the benefits of walking for mental health and wellbeing. It was made possible thanks to funding won by EYW during a pitch to our Scottish council executive committee during a Dragon’s Den-style contest earlier this year. Ramblers Scotland’s convener Alison Mitchell said: “The amazing response from the Scottish outdoor community highlights the increasing recognition that walking can play a major role in boosting people’s mental health and wellbeing.” All the money raised will go back into a new budget for EYW and other Ramblers groups to develop further exciting initiatives next year – so this lovely event will leave a lasting legacy.