Civic Society representatives from across the Yorkshire and Humber facing the future together

Civic Society representatives from across the Yorkshire and Humber region came together at the office of Wakefield Civic Society on Friday, 23rd June to take part in the first YHACS Futures Workshop.YHACS (the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies) is trying to encourage members to face up to the challenges of the future both in terms of what is happening in society at large but also in terms of how to keep their civic societies relevant and viable for the longer term.


Facilitated by independent consultant Barbara Paterson of Paterson Consultancy with support from Kevin Trickett, chair of YHACS and president of Wakefield Civic Society, the workshop explored themes of leadership, culture, control and motivation.

It was clear from discussion that even the most successful civic societies have to face up to these problems and only through taking steps now can any organisation expect to control their destiny. However, there is no single solution that will work for everyone and every organisation: civic societies, although working to a similar agenda, are complex organisations that rely on the skills and resources of their members, particularly their committee members, operating within their local context. Nonetheless, there are potential solutions that can be adapted and applied to any civic society.

As facilitator, Barbara was impressed with the passion displayed by workshop members but recognised the difficulty of translating that passion into action. She called on members to display leadership by exploring new ways of working. She recommended that civic societies develop action plans to deal with the problems of attracting younger members and to think about how to ‘re-launch’ the movement to capture the attention of the next generation. This should include making more use of social media as part of the marketing and communications strategy.

Kevin Trickett said “This workshop was never going to be about providing answers: it was much more about giving people the time and space to explore issues of mutual concern and to build networks of support. Those who attended were tasked with developing personal action plans to show what they could do to help YHACS, their own Society and themselves as individuals within the movement to ensure that the movement prospered and grew in the future. Later this year, we shall be following up on those action plans to see how far people have taken them and what lessons they have learned.”

Ian Harvey, attending as a representative of Civic Voice, said that he had found the workshop invaluable and was delighted to see that civic societies were considering what the future may hold for them and the role they can play.

YHACS is now planning to run a second workshop in the autumn for a new group from YHACS societies as part of an ongoing programme to develop the movement in the region. The future of the movement will also be on the agenda at the next YHACS members’ event in Hornsea on 29th July.