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WessexLogo1 

Bringing Clubs and People Together
in the Wessex Area

Follow the Planning Group progess here

Introduction

New ways of connecting

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Invitation Area

 

Amateur Radio is in decline across the UK.

Reducing numbers, an ageing population, technological advance, and less activity are all contributing to a reduction in both the profile and the perceived relevance of the hobby.

With few exceptions, the structures that have traditionally sustained the hobby are no longer fit for purpose. Without swift evolutionary change it is inevitable that a number of the region’s clubs will increasingly struggle, leading to further reduction in access to the hobby, reinforcing decline and the potential loss of bandwidth. In rural communities with low population and isolation, the problem is even greater.

We can reverse the decline.

We believe that in a climate emergency, with expanding globalisation, and increasing pressure on local government resourses, Amateur Radio Communication is more relevant than ever, and we have both the skills and the technology to reverse the decline. But we need fresh strategic thinking.

Within the Amateur community there is resilience, technical knowledge, and the energy to put in place new structures that can create better connectivity and expand both the relevance and scope of our hobby.  However, we need to do this ourselves. No one will do it for us.

So we are proposing a day conference at the end of May or beginning of June, located in central Somerset, for Radio Amateurs in the Somerset area to begin to identify new ways of connecting with everyone interested in wireless communication of all types, and to develop a new strategy for for Amateur Radio in the area. 

The conference is being organised jointly by the MidSomerset ARC and the RSGB Region 11 team.  It will not be simply a ‘talking shop’. We plan practical outcomes that will transform the way we engage together with wireless communication. We seek nothing less than transforming the structures that connect Amateurs and those interested in wireless communication.

At the very least, we want to achieve:

    1. Increased numbers entering the hobby
    2. Increased on-air activity
    3. A stronger social network of like-minded enthusiasts
    4. A solid and consistent training/assessment/exam offer at a variety of established locations throughout the Region
    5. Regional events supported by a larger active community

But we aim for much more than this.

We want to explore ways of strengthening existing clubs so they can become strategic 'hubs' in a much wider network, supporting each other and individual Amateurs, and to explore ways of creating new communities of interest.

This is an initial call to ask if you or your club would like to participate in this conference.  In order to judge the amount of interest, and therefore the level of resources to commit, we are writing to all Clubs in the area inviting expressions of interest. You can download a copy of our letters below. With a small subsidy from the RSGB, we aim to keep conference costs to a minimum.

We invite you to discuss this proposal with other Club members and other Amateurs in the area, both online and on air, and let us know the answers to these questions:

    1. Would you or your Club be willing to participate?
    2. Roughly how many members would like to join the process?
    3. What would be the level of cost per person you could reasonably commit to the conference?
    4. If you wish, we would additionally welcome your or your club’s thoughts on the process we are proposing

If there is sufficient support, we will invite new thinking and call for papers to get us started.

Invitation Letter

The following invitation letter has been sent to Clubs in the Wessex area:

 

Hello!
 
We are emailing you as the designated contact for your Amateur Radio Club (see list appended below) to invite your club to join a new initiative to help reverse the decline in Amateur Radio participation in our area.   We wrote to Club Chairmen at the end of February, just before lockdown, to suggest a physical conference later this year to discuss the proposal,  but the Covid 19 pandemic put things on hold.
 
You will find a comprehensive description of the proposal on our website – www.wessexham.co.uk – together with all of the working group documents.  The guts of the proposal is that participating clubs in the Wessex area work together as hubs in a single online network for the Wessex area.  This way, we can share resources, ideas, field days, talks, projects,  and all the things that attract people to Amateur Radio, enabling us to reach a much wider audience than any single club, and to provide a much greater range of activities than is possible for any single club.  
 
We had a very positive response to the proposal from a number of clubs and individual Amateurs in our area.  So far, Taunton, Exeter, Glastonbury, Shirehampton, South Bristol, and Mid-Somerset clubs have all said they would like to take part.  And a number of individual Amateurs have also been active in promoting the concept. We have had several Zoom meetings to discuss the proposal, and two members have already started a Facebook group for the project.
 
Now that lockdown is easing, we are writing again to ask you if your Club would like to participate.
 
The pioneering work of Essexham.co.uk is one model for us, but if we are to go down this route, we want to ensure that it is supported by a majority of the clubs in the area and is serving our needs, rather than being run by an external body.  
 
What are we asking you to do?  
 
1. Read the proposal outlined on wessexham.co.uk and circulate it to your club members.
2. Hold a meeting with your club to ask them if they wish the club to take part.
3. If your club wishes to take part, appoint a member to represent your club on our working group.
4. Let us know the outcome of your discussions (either way - and the contact details of your representative if appointed) by emailing admin@wessexham.co.uk
 
It’s not much to ask, and we’re working hard to reverse the decline in Amateur Radio in our area by creating new forms of access for interested people.
 
With every good wish,
 
Richard Thomas G4JJP
Andy Jenner G7KNA
Tony Howel-Jones M0THJ
and other members of the working group
 
PS:  If your club has already decided to participate, this email is sent to you for information only.
 
 
Invitations sent to:
 
Bath and District AR
Blackmore Vale ARC
Bristol RSGB Group
North Bristol ARC
Christchurch ARC
Flight Refuelling ARC
Gordano ARG
Isle of Avalon RCA                Already Participating
Mid-Somerset ARC              Already Participating
Shirehampton ARC              Already Participating
South Bristol ARC                Already Participating
South Dorset RC
Taunton and District ARC      Already Participating
Thornbury & South Glous ARC
Weston-Super-Mare RS
Yeovil ARC