An organisation shares their compliance journey

Belmont East Neighbourhood and Environmental Group are a Type A organisation set up in 2005 and established on a more formal footing in 2009.

They are focussed on harnessing and fostering the local community spirit by involving volunteers in practical initiatives in their neighbourhood and in acting proactively to address local environmental issues that impact on the daily lives of local residents, such as road maintenance, traffic issues, cleanliness, and positive enhancement of their surroundings. The organisation of the annual street party is the highlight of their year’s activities.

Sean Brennan is Secretary of this Area Residents’ Association and he was the person instrumental in initiating and working through the process to become the first Type A organisation to be listed as being compliant with the Governance Code.

He heard about the Governance Code quite by chance back in 2011 when he attended a seminar in Dublin City Council Offices in Wood Quay. At this event they had talked about templates and the Governance Code was mentioned. He researched further and read all the information he could get his hands on. It seemed at the outset both a very daunting and frightening undertaking but as he read and re-read it, as he said: “It just makes sense”.

In his experience of volunteering in the sector he had witnessed the chaos that can result from committees that are not organised properly. When an organisation implements the Governance Code he feels everyone is then starting from common ground and an agreed framework is put in place that makes decision making and the management of business much more transparent, efficient and effective.

In highlighting the experience of Belmont East Neighbourhood and Environmental Group from starting the ‘adoption journey’ in 2011 to becoming compliant in 2012, he mentioned the following signposts as having been significant for them, and therefore for other ‘Type A’s’ thinking of embarking on the adoption journey:

  • As a Type A organisation you really need to identify someone who will be the ‘driver’ - a ‘key person’ within your organisation who runs with it from Day 1. Someone who recognises the long term value of the process and who has the determination to see it through and keep the momentum going even when it gets tough.
  • There is a need as a committee to invest time on a regular basis to work through the Type A checklist (which was a really helpful tool). It is often necessary to allocate full meetings to this task alone. As well as regular meetings during which this is on the agenda, you also need to make time for discussions around the issues this highlights and to ‘win’ people over to the value of it.
  • No Type A organisations had done this before so Belmont East Neighbourhood and Environmental Group had no ‘like organisation on the journey’ to consult with at that time. They relied on Senan Turnbull a member of the Governance Code Working Group to give them any advice he could while recognising he was constrained in the amount of time he could allocate solely to them. Now information sessions and Governance Code Training opportunities are available to organisations.
  • It is very easy for ‘compliance’ with the Code to become secondary when other issues involved in the day to day running of the organisation need to take precedence on occasions. You need to be focussed and determined to get to the end.
  • A huge help in the process is the Type A Checklist. At the time it would have been helpful to have had examples of completed checklists from other Type A organisations and to realise that ‘not one size fits all’ and that some items may not be applicable to your organisation. It was essential to have had a Constitution in place as you can then amend the Constitution as you move through the principles of the Code that need to be applied.

Regardless of the practical challenges (which can be overcome) Sean said: “It just makes sense for a Type A organisation to undertake this process. It is about being transparent in your practice and cementing the work of the group now and into the future. The Code is also a way of ensuring that the ‘ground rules’ are there for anyone who takes over in the future”.

If as a Type A organisation you have in place a good solid constitution with the necessary documents required by compliance with the Code, appended to it, Sean says: “You have all you need to go ahead with confidence”. He felt that one of the most important documents that they added was in relation to ‘Role Profiles’ for each of the management committee members, as this has prevented so much overlap and duplication. People are clear about their roles and responsibilities and interactions with others.

It has been a huge bonus for Belmont East Neighbourhood and Environmental Group to be compliant with the Governance Code and he believes that as more Type A organisations communicate their compliance the more stakeholders that they engage with, should see this as a ‘standard mark’ if they are able to indicate compliance, and therefore be exempt from unnecessary ‘double checking’ and bureaucracy e.g. being required to fill in certain sections on funding applications and other forms where duplication of this information should not be necessary if you are compliant. “It just makes sense”.

Written on 30 Jun, 2015

Back to News.

Share this article