Find organisations that interest you and contact them.
Many larger charities and social enterprises are well organised about supporting volunteers
3. Initiate community action
Many people simply take action to do something they like or initiate something that they would like to see in their neighbourhood. It may be joining a letter pick, helping to run the local community shop, starting a pop up cafe in the village hall, or getting an open space designated to safeguard it for the future. There are lots of resources available to support community action volunteers. See the resources section or contact Community First Oxfordshire.
Community planning and volunteering can be supported by evidence which can be obtained through neighbourhood surveys and local knowledge but is also strongly supported by statistics that are available from the census and other sources.
Action with Communities in Rural England has put together data profiles for every parish which package the available statistics (as at Nov 2013) for easy use in community plans. The census data in these profiles, in particular, is still the best available data for small areas such as parishes.
Oxfordshire communities can download their data profiles here:
Oxfordshire Insight: aims to provide evidence to support strategic policy development within Oxfordshire
Parish Online: provides quality mapping and powerful tools to Parish and Town Councils
Ordnance Survey: the UK government agency responsible for the official, definitive topographic survey and mapping of Great Britain
District Data Service: The Data Analysis service helps district councils in Oxfordshire to make use of data and evidence on multiple themes, including population and households, health and well-being and communities
Resources for Community Action
What is it?: Define your idea, discuss it with friends. Do you need other people? Do you need funding? Do you need expert advice?
Get help: Identify and get in touch with people who can help you (see useful links)
Get people on board: Hold an event, distribute a survey, gather email address of people who are interested, communicate with them:
Creating simple surveys
Establish a group
Most community action needs 2 or more people to make it happen. It is motivating to work with others as well as enabling you to share the work.
Decide how formal the group needs to be (if at all). Does it need a constitution or terms of reference? Will it need a bank account? Can another organisation hold funds on your behalf eg the parish council or community association?
In taking the decision on how to set up, be aware of liability if you enter into any contracts and any other risks. If there are significant risks, consider forming a legal entity or putting your activity under the umbrella of another organisation that has insurance and limited liability.