The branch development plan which incorporated a bid for funds for projects, from one million pounds of welfare funds “available”, has been turned down. The reason being that the funding committee thought that the radio branch membership was no more than a bunch of radio hams (“11 Strong”). The application was therefore turned down with caveats: That the branch should not apply again or break the application up into separate requests. Effect: Kybosh.
Because those were the only reasons offered and the document was fairly comprehensive, also it contained a snapshot of our social media statistics, indicating continuous interest from 230 people reading our posts it provoked an immediate reaction. We disputed whether our submission had been read before it was acted upon. The voluntary effort taken to create it was certainly not a consideration.
To be fair we included in our development plan that there are discrepancies between the REA database (and ours). While the REA think we have a membership of 11 “radio Hams” we think our numbers are over ninety, taken from data from our web form and historical membership records. Approx 32 people in that group have amateur radio licenses. (We contacted all our members when we took over but regular contact is fairly sparse and not enough to confirm annual membership.)
We therefore realised there are large(r) numbers of signallers (and sappers) that are still alive today who have been through our trade training – but without the right data it is impossible to reach out. This holds us back. We raised the opportunity at least two years ago. Our plan was to grow progressively with support. Also we have known for some time that by improving how we administer the branch it would unlock further possibilities for development across the whole piece. We have offered support to develop this idea before but we have always felt we were not being listened to, we decided to document it in the plan.
Future of the Radio Branch
We think the survival of the branch depends on growth and have prepared for it. However we doubted there would be support for the development. We have seen the impact of trying to meet challenges without support. Nobody in their right mind wants to do that for long(1).
We now think the branch is unsupported despite much good will shown by CO’s of 1 and 3 Regt RE over the years.
We are unable to grow at our own pace.
We know the REA has a plan (but this had not come to light by the time our development plan was submitted(2)). We doubted our unique requirements were a part of this as we were not included in the survey interviews and so our plan was compiled from two development meetings at the command support branch and then submitted separately. This was done voluntarily and the notes circulated and agreed with serving officers and soldiers. We gave the time we could afford – voluntarily recognising a risk if we didn’t contribute.
Having full knowledge of the issue of the branch being identified as a “small number of hams”, in this committees life, we have always taken steps to be inclusive of all signallers and have bothered to build a following by marketing this. In the funding committees response, this effort went unacknowledged.
The response was simply not appropriate and we expected better. It made out we were liars when we acknowledged we had problems.
Professionally we have never seen a funding application process that didn’t include a presentation from the people submitting the application, and a mechanism for reviewing it.
Nor have we ever submitted a plan that has been dismissed without someone recognising the issues and offering support.
The dismissal gives the appearance that the branch operates under a delusion when getting real is the main reason behind airing the plan.
The final point is that when we challenged the way it was dismissed, we said it was dangerous, in the knowledge that it risked scuppering the branch altogether. The response to this was “over-dramatic”. We were serious. We know enough about the branch to be able to predict the outcome and be concerned.
The Branch Secretary has resigned as of November 2017. He has asked to hand over the administration and the assets which include the website and social media accounts while he reverts to ordinary membership.
The branch committee don’t yet have a response to what happened and, as you might expect, there has been no high level contact either way about our response. This was to handover the admin to prevent any further damaging emails and provide a cooling off period.
NB. The website belongs to the branch but the annual running costs is a voluntary contribution, this arrangement expires in May 2018 due to the donor reaching retirement age and (1) above.
What are we going to do?
For the future, there is still time to consider the matter. We think to wait for (2) is out of the question. If the events above run their course the branch now needs to downsize rather than grow.
A committee meeting is planned for Jan\Feb 2018