Our Process of becoming a constituted Industrial and Provident Society
Our incorporation process has taken a little while. We had to find the right structure for London Community Herbalists. When you are full of ideas and plans the need for structure can seem bureaucratic and dull. In the end was journey, if painful at moments, was satisfying and worthwhile.
Our next decision
was to consider which structure we wanted our group to have
of charitable status
The problem for us was that we believed we had the skills to dream and deliver and manage our vision of accessible herbal medicine in our communities. At the same time we believe we deserve to earn a living from doing so. We wanted all members to have the opportunity to be involved at every level from management to project work.
Another form of social organisation was evolving at about the same time as Victorian philanthropists were setting up charities and congratulating themselves on how humane they were. Ordinary people were organising amongst themselves - Tailors, cord wainers, flax dressers, wool combers, ordinary working men and women who wanted to make their own decisions. In 1833 a group of farm workers from Tolpuddle in Dorset formed the 'Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers'. They were deported to Australia and given 7 years hard labour for their honest efforts (now known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs). The movement that they ignited spawned the first industrial and provident societies.
An industrial and provident society is a corporate body registered under the Industrial and Provident Acts 1965-78.
This is the model we have chosen to adopt. When we first looked into it we were told on several occasions that the process was obscure and would require expensive specialised help. We didn't believe it. If Leyton Orient supporters club could be an Industrial and Provident society, then surely we could! It turned out that the legal advisors don't have much experience of this form of incorporation because it is something people generally do themselves. In fact it is quite common - working men's clubs, housing associations and Women's' Institutes often have this structure.
Once we had done
a little research into IP's we realised that its structure was ideal
for our purposes; IP's have limited liability but are not as restrained
by the weight of the bureaucracy of a charity; they can be not for profit
or have yearly dividends; and our rooted in a history of working co-operatives.
So in idealistic and practical terms an IP was everything we wanted.
The process of becoming an IP can be time consuming, relatively expensive
and the paperwork may look daunting but if we did it anyone can and
it is very satisfying once it's done. We are not precious about sharing
our process. Lift any bits you like from our constitution. Or all of
it. And if you want any advice about becoming an industrial and provident
society, then don't hesitate to contact us.