One of the cornerstones of the IPMS (UK) has been its Branch network, something that has existed almost since the society was formed back in 1963. In more recent years we have expanded that ‘group’ philosophy with the introduction of Special Interest Groups, or SIGs. Although their purpose may have a different origin, the two types of group are fundamentally similar in how they operate and indeed, how we administer them as a national organisation.
Branches are geographically based groups of like-minded modellers who have gathered together to form a club in one location, whilst SIGs are groups of like-minded modellers who have come together to form a subject-based club. The latter don’t necessarily meet regularly face to face and can have members scattered across the UK and beyond, all tied together with a mutual enthusiasm for a particular subject.
IPMS (UK) has roughly equal numbers of each type of group, with a combined total of close to 200 groups. Despite this, our semi-regular membership surveys indicate that only around half our 4,000+ members choose to belong to either type of group. There are many reasons why modellers do not belong to a wider group and it means that IPMS needs to present a range of membership benefits to ensure that the society appeals to a broad spectrum of modellers.
However, I wanted to concentrate on the Branch and SIG network this time round. Each year we ask Branches and SIGs to complete a form that updates their current status and contact details. It also allows them to request display space at Scale ModelWorld. More importantly, it re-confirms their status as official sub-groups of the larger IPMS (UK) organisation.
Under normal circumstances, the Branches would be meeting on a regular basis. Most meet once a month, but there are others that meet twice a month or even every week but no matter what the frequency of their meeting, they are currently unable to have physical meetings. A good number of the Branches I know have moved their meetings online, using one of the various social media or chat platforms.
My own Branch is meeting on average twice a month ‘virtually’ for an hour or two of general chat. It helps to keep us all in touch with each other but there are always some who can’t make every gathering. The problem for me is that I’m so used to us meeting once a month that the increased frequency of the meetings has thrown me – I missed the last club meeting because I’d completely forgotten that it was club night on that particular evening.
If you don’t already belong to a Branch or SIG then you may be interested in having a look at the groups who already exist. They cover a broad range of locations across the UK and the SIGs encompass a huge range of subjects.
IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer