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29th July 2015
We are currently consulting to see if you think PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide should continue to have the present model of membership as central to its governance arrangements. At the recent AGM we agreed to consult members and supporters about possible changes to our membership and constitution.
In recent years we have found it much harder to increase our membership, whilst support for the charity increases week on week. One possible reason is that with the advent of social media the concept of membership has less appeal. Although we routinely ask our supporters to become members we are seeing fewer wanting to do so. At recent conferences we struggled to attract enough members to hold an AGM.
Membership of PAPYRUS has never been about conferring specific benefits; people join because they want to do something to prevent young suicide. We support anyone who has been touched by suicide, particularly through the inquest process, we allow everyone access to our newsletter and publications and we want to open up our new PAPYRUS Forum to all our supporters.
As PAPYRUS has broadened its support across the UK we are exploring the possibility of modernizing the constitution so that we don't have to have membership as we do now. (No change would take place without the consent of the existing membership which we would probably seek via a postal vote.) One model used by other charities would have only the trustees as members. Under this model the trustee board would be regularly refreshed by trustees serving limited periods (as we already do) and the trustees appointing new members with appropriate interests and skills. We would still be required to publish our annual report and accounts each year. Currently a majority of our trustees have personal experience of having been touched by a young suicide.
PAPYRUS was founded by parents who had lost children to suicide and wanted to ensure that other young people did not go through the same struggle and that parents did not suffer with the same loss they had. They understood there was a unique contribution that those who had lost someone to suicide could make to suicide prevention. At the heart of our governance arrangements we need to ensure that the powerful voice of those who have been touched by suicide is not lost and still informs our campaigns and everything we do to save young lives. It may be that for this reason you believe that membership arrangements should stay the same or you may have another model which you believe should be considered. We are open to all suggestions but please bear in mind that we are struggling to make the current system work.
Please make your views known by completing this short survey by 1 September 2015.
You may also wish to check out others' comments in our forum.