Welcome to Harrow LETS
Notes of Core Group Meeting on Friday 7th May 2021
1. Present: David Rose, Mary Fee
3. History of Harrow LETS
3.1. Mary had refreshed her memory of events in the recent period by re-reading emails from those closely involved. The News Archive gives an indication of the series of events. The scheme was founded in the early 90s by Jenny Hunt and her husband, who subsequently died, she hosted Bring & Share events at her home, and did not charge subscriptions, asking members to contribute postage stamps. Harrow LETS initially had a page on the Agenda21 website, and in 2009, Jenny asked LETSlink to host a new website, and about two years later, when software became available, Mary developed it into an online system.
3.2. An unexpected problem was that Jenny had issues with digital access. Joanna Nathan joined in 2015 and attempted to work with the existing Core Group to help them use the online system without success, and they (Jane, Ruth, Dilys, Miriam & Paula) continued with the paper-based system and in January 2015 issued a statement to members denying that there was any connection with LETSlink and asking members not to engage with the online system. Linda Robinson continued to liaise with them, periodically updating the lists of members and transactions on the website to reconcile it with their records - until they resigned in 2017 - key messages have been included in the News Archive. Currently, of the 35 members whose accounts had been inactivated, only ten showed a reason, eg leaving the area or resigning.
3.3. In 2019 David Rose joined the group and a past member, Eric Litzinger, also got involved, wishing to promote his design service, and we attempted a relaunch, for which Mary produced an attractively designed newsletter introducing the new members, without getting much response, so two years later we are both aware that we need to adopt a careful strategy to encourage members to engage.
4. Renewal Strategy
4.1. WEBSITE UPDATE: With David's encouragement and feedback, Mary has worked on the website. She put a notice on the News page to indicate that we are now in relaunch mode, then improved the content and layout of the News Archive, About/Join, Useful Pages, Membership List and Offers & Wants sections, and has also created and uploaded publicity materials in A4, A6 and Personal Card format. On the first introductory page there was a link to a page with details of our Privacy & Cookies strategy, but David felt that we needed a statement on GDPR and undertook to research it and prepare a draft GDPR statement for the next meeting.
4.2. ENGAGING WITH THE ONLINE SYSTEM: Mary had discovered that of the 36 members with active accounts, the "Never Logged In" total was currently 26 - which meant that only 10 of them had ever logged in, which was a clear illustration of our failure to engage with them. However, the recently discovered zoom software might help us connect with members and could also support online training to assist members to manage their accounts.
4.3. EMAIL MESSAGING: Mary discovered messages from two members on the server which had not reached her, and replied to them, but this indicating that there was a continuing problem with email forwarding from emails hosted on the new ISP to emails hosted on the old ISP being blocked. She created a forwarder for David and added her letslink@gmail account as an interim measure to counter the forwarding problems. She would also set up an email account on the same ISP where most of the LETS websites were now hosted to ensure compatibility.
4.4. CONTACTING MEMBERS: Our strategy to revive the scheme will need to include a message inviting members to re-engage, hoping that amongst them, some potential Core Group members might come forward. The message can also be forwarded to members whose accounts have been inactivated without a reason, as well as others on the Londonwide database who live in Harrow but have not so far been members of the scheme. In preparation for our next meeting Mary undertook to prepare a draft of the message.
4.5. CORE GROUP ROLES: Mary referred David to a page showing Core Group Roles and before the next meeting David would study this and give her feedback, and also try to identify what role(s) he could sustain, with others hopefully filling other roles. One role would be to handle responses from members, another role would be to pursue those who had not responded. In all transactions with members, dedicated record-keeping would help to keep track, ie recording progress in the Admin Notes field and forwarding the Expire Date when a member had successfully been re-activated.
Date of next meeting: Friday 14th May 2021 from 11am.