The right people for the job: Cirencester

Gloucestershire Area Meeting owns two flats in Cirencester. These are let and produce an income for the area meeting. Until 2017, the local meeting managed the properties on behalf of the area meeting. This took considerable time for Friends who were on the premises committee. They had to liaise with tenants as well as identify and report maintenance work. Friends had to ensure work was carried out to a high standard.

a stone building with large windows photographed from a summer garden.
The meeting house at Cirencester Local Meeting.

One flat had been occupied by a tenant for many years and little maintenance work had been required. When the tenant moved out, the trustees took the opportunity to review how the flats were managed.

The trustees wanted to explore alternative ways of managing the flats. They agreed that members of the local meeting should no longer spend so much time doing this work. The area meeting wished to retain the flats. The meeting considered the options to employ professionals to run the flats. They discussed the options and looked at companies in the nearby area.

Friends took care to find those aligned with Quaker values. They decided to sign a contract with Cirencester Housing, a small local social housing provider.

Since the summer of 2017 the flats have been managed by Cirencester Housing. One of the jobs it undertook was refurbishing one of the flats. Friends have been relieved of the day-to-day running of the flats. The letting and maintenance is managed by Cirencester Housing.

The local meeting will continue to select tenants for the affordable flats. Area meeting trustees still have oversight and the overall responsibility for the flats. They receive regular reports at their meetings from Cirencester Housing.

Managing a meeting house is a substantial undertaking which must be carefully considered by Friends. Discernment, conversation, and inclusive discussion are all crucial to beginning to take this path. Friends in Cirencester consulted many different avenues to help them realise their journey.

If your meeting wishes to begin this journey there are many places you can consult:

Meeting for clearness has helped many Friends find direction, or clarified the questions that need to be asked. There is guidance about meetings for clearness at Quaker faith & practice12.24 and is explained in some depth in the Clearness leaflet (PDF).

If you would like to know more about the specific project undertaken in Gloucestershire Area Meeting, please contact Penny Elliott, who can put you in touch with the relevant Friends.