Present: Stella Hervey Birrell, Maureen Burns, Ruth Campbell, Liz Clark, George Cunningham, Mike Davenport, Lorna Dixon, Jeff Kemp, Julia Graves, Isabella Hesler, Irene Holligan, Mary Johnston, Graham Leake, Neil McGowan, Roy Moller, Jackie Muller, Jane Patmore (Convener), Philippa Ramsden, Katherine Ritchie, Jock Stein, Diana Stevens, Sheila Thacker, Brenda Thomson

Apologies:  Billy Graham

Convener’s Report:

Following positive feedback we had agreed to reappoint Margaret Skea as CWF. Unfortunately, this was overtaken by Covid19 and our inability to have group meetings in the usual way. We have postponed the appointment of a CWF in the meantime. Winter workshops were cancelled and we were unsuccessful in our bid for Scottish Book Trust funding to take one on line.

Over the past months some groups have continued to meet virtually, or to share work by email among members. However, for some members this is challenging. Coronavirus, and the restrictions it imposes, raises 3 points for consideration:

  • How do we maximise our use of technology and share our expertise, so as many people as possible can participate in a virtual way?
  • How can we best continue to include members who find technology challenging?
  • Can we use this time as an opportunity to publicise what we do and extend our membership to others in our communities who might benefit?

We also continue to research funding opportunities, and have recently had optimistic news about the co-op community fund.

The Constitution has been updated to reflect that we no longer get support through the Library Service, and the Committee is also exploring how to become a SCIO.

The Convener thanked office holders and the CWF for their support during this challenging year.

Treasurer and Membership Secretary’s Report:

Current balance is £7,575. Tyne & Esk Writers has been nominated as one of three charities to be eligible for Co-op Local Community Fund in the year Oct 20 to Oct 21.

At 31/3/20 there were 78 members, but for this year only 45 membership forms had been received. The subscription fee has been waived because of Covid19, but forms are still required – they can be found on the website, though payment still has to be made to the Treasurer rather than through the website. Group reps. are asked to ensure that everyone returns a form, although those who continue to pay by standing order can assume their membership will be counted. The Committee will consider the process for completing membership forms and paying subscriptions for future years.

The accounts had been agreed by the Committee as Trustees, but were shown to those present by screen share. In answer to questions, Diana said that our insurance does give some indemnity cover, but that a move to being a SCIO would improve this, and that while the Committee could consider changing banks to an interest-bearing account, interest rates were low and several banks had ceased offering this for Charities.

Reappointment of Office-bearers:

Convener: Jane Patmore – proposed Jock Stein, seconded Graham Leitch

Vice-convener: Neil McGowan, proposed Brenda Thomson, seconded Maureen Burns

Treasurer: Diana Stevens, proposed Brenda Thomson, seconded Liz Clark.

Scrivens:  George Cunningham was reappointed.

Port Seton Motion:  Jackie Muller, shared the experiences of the Port Seton Group. She shared how Zoom and other platforms had proved extremely helpful, and that during the period when lockdown was relaxed a blended approach had worked well. She referenced the 2014 members’ survey which had underlined the importance of social connection. It was proposed that Tyne and Esk should facilitate the use of Zoom by having a paid for account, accessible to all groups. The Committee agreed to look at this. The Committee also agreed that minutes, accounts and constitution would be available on the website.

To be considered by the Committee:

1  Membership Forms and possible Payment on line through the website

2  Changing banks for an interest-bearing account.

3  Proposal from the Port Seton Group for a central Zoom account.

The Committee and Convener were warmly thanked, and the meeting closed about 8.20pm.

 

The AGM was followed by the annual Writer of the Year Award, with 2020 judge Claire Askew.