HQAC’s view it seems is the change in the law doesn’t apply to them. However I can see a flurry of activity when they suddenly realise it does and or a raft of new rules dreamed up over someone’s tea break.
see this discussion
As an ex Squadron Commander, ex Chairman and now CI… I couldn’t agree more.
A Civilian Committee that tries to dictate what the Squadron does on a day to day basis is on very dodgy ground. As a Squadron Commander I made sure the Squadron / Civ Comm relationship was maintained in a healthy way i.e suggestions on how to run the Squadron were always welcome but I had absolute say on whether the ideas were implemented. When I became a Chairman I made sure the Squadron Commander felt empowered to do the same and would encourage him to speak to me if any of the Civ Comm team tried to influence what was happening. Finally, any new Civ Comm member was told the same, especially the bit about promotions for cadets!.
Maybe this type of information is missing in the Senior Officers / Squadron Commanders courses?
The relationship between Civ Comm and Squadron is critical for a healthy Squadron. Regardless of how this is structured you need clear ground rules on where the responsibilities lie. ACP 11 is old but the basic ground rules still apply.
There was and still are massive gaps it seems in useful stuff on all the courses we do. But you could spend 2 weeks on ‘working with people’, because as a member of staff (not just CO) you need to be diplomatic, sympathetic and have empathy in how you deal with people, because it’s not just about rules and regulations and being the “big I am”, which is why I resigned my commission after dealing with a WSO who had all the compassion of nuclear warhead. Too many volunteers in uniform seem to forget that everyone volunteers from cadets to staff and the Air Cadets is not their main priority, it is or should be, at best, third on the list.
The CWC / Squadron relationship has to be one that is two way and with boundaries observed. I’ve seen instances where squadron commanders have tried to dictate how the committee operates, which makes for just as an unholy mess as for committees trying to dictate to squadron commanders.
What I found as a CO was I was the face of the squadron and people with money or offers of help came to me, where they should really just deal with the committee, but committees sit in the background and no one knows they exist, outside the Air Cadets. I was never shy on jumping on opportunities and offers. But this is where sometimes things can go wrong and COs or even committee members could get cheques etc written to them, as the people won’t know any difference. Even now there are people I had contact with who I have to divert to the OC.
Indeed. It can go the other way too.
My CivCom have in the past ended up booking and trying to arrange AT activities with a local outdoors centre… They do it with good intention but without realising that a. it’s not quite that simple, and b. it’s not part of their remit. If something goes tits up it’s not them who will be questioned and potentially held responsible as to how Little Johnny broke his leg on an unauthorised activity.
That’s where Staff and committee need to work together. Agree the idea together, and then the staff arrange, organise, and supervise the activity (since we are the ones who have to ensure that the processes are in place and it’s we who hold the responsibility); and then the committee pays the bill.
Which brings me neatly back around to my earlier point about how I consider it to be wholly improper and potentially problematic to impress upon CivComs the idea that they are “not part of the organisation”. If they are given the idea that it’s their trainset then they invariable end up doing things they shouldn’t because they don’t know any better.
Certainly, make clear their legal obligations to the Charities Commission; but also make clear that they work alongside the staff for the benefit of the Sqn - and that the people who make Sqn decisions are the staff alone.
It would also be useful if staff were given a better idea of how the CivCom works as part of their initial training.
I’ve had to rebrief my staff to explain that they can’t just go out and buy some unnecessary and expensive crap which we don’t really need, and then expect to be automatically reimbursed by the committee.
You must have had a really bad experience. My only experience has been CWC suggesting that we did something not going off and doing their own thing.
It was funny when a couple of parents asked the cadets (with my blessing) via their son and daughter what the cadets would like to do and gave me a list. Nothing outrageous but when I put up lists to gauge interest of the 6 things they gave me, only one had more than 5 showing a definite interest, which was a film night with food supplied. It appeared that climbing, canoeing, laser tag and a trip to Duxford were not that popular. When I reported back to the CWC the parents who had asked the cadets, seemed most surprised. I’d done ‘wish lists’ before and they never returned what you thought they might. I didn’t tell them this before. I think this was training in don’t expect the cadets to be excited about things.
Bad experiences in the past, but this current committee are far better.
Other than occasionally overstepping a little through eagerness they’re great.
They were all new in a couple of years ago and just need some guidance. Fortunately, the more obstructive of the old guard did not stick around to contaminate these guys. Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer are replaced with new blood in one swoop. Which naturally brought it’s own teething problems but nothing compared the dire state things were in before.
Though, like you I’ve had a similar experience with the “wish lists”.
Some really sensible comment there and of course it only works in partnership. But it also demonstrates a little misunderstanding.
The status of a CivCom is that of an ‘excepted’ charity. That charity is not legally responsible to the ACO and is in fact responsible to the charity commission. The Charities Act makes it crystal clear that the only authority over a charity’s funds are its trustees. There have been several cases where the ACO have fallen foul of this and also have been criticised by the Charity Commission.
There can be no argument that a CivCom should be exercising any control over the squadron, that is not their role. Uniform volunteers and civilian volunteers come together over a common area which is the cadets. The staff/CO decides programme and the CivCom decide funding. With permission the cadets may raise charitable funds which are then held by the trust and are administered under charity law.
However, in the absence of better understanding and training, the simple fact is that there is a rub between these two elements which needs mutual respect. To the staff the cadets are cadets, to the CivCom the cadets have the legal status of beneficiaries. Being a uniform volunteer is a serious commitment (admittedly among the other priorities of life in general) . Being a CivCom trustee is similar, but has the added spice that your personal finances may be on the line if the trust fund runs into problems.
I am not trying to emphasise one over the other, just explain that there is no doubt over the ownership of the train-set - the CO decides who plays with it, how and when the CivCom trust owns it.
As I have written before in this thread, there is no authority for the ACO over the charitable aspects of the squadron and this is a matter of written record. So we come back to the need for better training on these areas and some full-frontal honesty from the organisation with both civilian and uniform volunteers as to exactly how it is. Instead, there are numerous issues and bad experiences and I have to say complete inconsistencies throughout the UK regions in the way the ACO operates in this area (e.g. Scotland where every CivCom has to formally register as a charity direct and not to the ACO). in just that situation, ACP-11 becomes almost irrelevant.
Not fronting up to this allows the ACO to operate in a manner whereby it can tackle arising problems as if they are one-offs and local issues. Fronting up would probably disenchant many COs and would probably damage some squadrons as CivCom trustees who didn’t understand their commitment would run a mile. (Though this might not be perceived as a bad things for some of the less active CivCom members )
So there isn’t really an incentive for the ACO to train people in these areas when
a) they are a bit boring
b) the majority of ACO officials do not understand them
c) to do so would limit problem solving and keeping a lid on things
d) the resulting knowledge would untrain the focus on cadet business
e) the ACO would actually be admitting it has no authority to uniform volunteers
f) to do so would reveal that the new ACP-11 introduced in the last 24 months has been done so unlawfully as the organisation cannot vary the CivCom charity constitution without the trustees of each squadron individually voting to accept (or reject) them - chaos!
Nevertheless, I sincerely believe that a better understanding of obligations, duties, roles and commitments that is closer to the actual legal position would strengthen the organisation and prevent alot of the conflicts that do develop between COs and over enthusiatic CivComs.
Any over enthusiastic CWC is better than one which is intransigent. I’ve set the CWC a task for organising things, although we have to do the boring bits on SMS, just to tick the boxes. It takes a lot of the initial load off of staff.
Whether there is a case for training Civ Comm’s is debatable, the majority of people join the CWC because they want, invariably, their children to have a good time in the Air Cadets, which is why people join PTAs and become parent governors’. The one thing that some information on would be useful is the minutiae we have to worry about, just so they understand we are not just being killjoys. You can tell from the quickly glazing expressions, when they suggest something and it then becomes a list of what we need before it can happen and ideally we need 4-6 weeks lead time.
Maybe someone from the Civ Comm community could produce a bullet point list relating to the “uniformed side” and financial points Civ Comm need to know about and maybe the conflicting points as mentioned relating to HQAC and the Charity Commission and which takes precedence. This could also be sent to parents wrt Squadron Association, which is something I’m still not sure I really understand and not many others do either.
Reading through the above opened my eyes. I think I get the gist of it, but, why am I not surprised that HQAC to do their own thing and fly in the face of Charity Commission rules.
As a CO as long as we have money to spend and the Committee are supporting us I’m happy.