The EPEA encourages the establishment of national branches to ensure that we are meeting the local, immediate and specific needs of our members, and in order to represent their interests at a national and international level. Any such representation is stronger coming under the auspices of the firmly established, well respected and international EPEA organisation. Working locally and collaboratively within a branch structure allows members establish a national presence so that they can achieve their objectives within the overarching protection, support and benefits that only an international NGO can bring.
What do we mean by a branch?
The branch is the local organisation of the EPEA at a national level. It shares the same basic aims as the EPEA as well as its governance structure. In effect, the branch is the EPEA’s representative body in that country and it is the primary point of contact between the local members and the EPEA. The Steering Committee of the branch is comprised of elected volunteers responsible to the Steering Committee of the EPEA. The national branch itself cannot be an institutional member of the EPEA. The individual and institutional members of the national branch are automatically individual or institutional members of EPEA.
Why set up a branch of the EPEA?
- To provide a strong and united voice backed by a international organisation
- To achieve local, immediate and specific objectives
- To represent and disseminate the interests of local prison educators at national and international level
- To influence national and international policy, practice and decision making
- To facilitate and organise meetings, seminars and exchanges of information for branch members
- To channel communication and interaction among branch members and from members to the national branch and the EPEA
- To increase EPEA responsiveness to the local needs of branch members
- To mobilise local support for national and international campaigns
- To participate in EU-sponsored and other projects designed to share best practices and new innovations among prison educators across Europe.
- To create a clear, co-ordinated and recognised image
How to form a branch
- Arrange a meeting for as many people as possible that are interested in starting a national branch. Try to invite as wide a range of people from as large a geographical spread as possible. EPEA membership is not just for prison teacher but is open to anyone with an interest in our work. This will include policy makers, education providers, prison governors, psychology and welfare staff, researchers, etc.
- Elect or appoint in interim Committee to work on the setting up and organization of the branch. Download a copy of the EPEA Constitution as a basis and template for drafting a constitution for your new branch.
- Elect a Steering Committee for the branch. A minimum of three officers is required, e.g. Chairperson, Treasurer, Secretary. Members of the local branch (ie., EPEA members in that country) must elect all Steering Committee members and all members can stand for election.
- Open a bank account that can be audited annually.
- Submit to the EPEA Steering Committee a copy of your constitution, the names of your elected officers, a list of your branch membership, bank account details (which the EPEA Treasurer can examine at any time if necessary), together with a request to become a national branch of EPEA. The EPEA Steering Committee will approve the branch at its next biannual meeting if all the criteria are fulfilled.
- Start to collect annual membership fees from your members. Individual and institutional annual dues for each member at the current rates should be submitted to the EPEA Treasurer as soon as possible, plus a list of all members, giving names, addresses, and email addresses when available. The list of branch members and their contact details must be copied also to the Secretary of the EPEA. You may charge a sum in excess of the EPEA fees, if you wish, in order to run your branch. The excess local branch fee must not exceed fifty per cent (50%) of the annual EPEA membership fees. When the EPEA Treasurer has received the membership fees and approval of the EPEA Steering Committee has been confirmed, the new branch will become an official national branch of EPEA.
- Register your branch locally.
Criteria to be fulfilled to be accepted as a national branch
The following procedures must be adhered to before the Steering Committee of the EPEA can approve a branch –
- The country must have 10 members or more before they can consider forming a branch.
- The national branch itself cannot be an institutional member of the EPEA. The individual and institutional members of the national branch are automatically individual members of EPEA.
- A constitution for the branch must be drafted and agreed by the local members of the branch, and the Steering Committee of the EPEA. This constitution must reflect the ideals and aspirations of the EPEA.
- The local membership must elect an Executive Committee for the branch, to include a Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer. An interim or provisional Committee can be formed while setting up the branch and organising the elections following written notification to all local members.
- Elections must be held regularly and all local members must be given the opportunity to both vote and stand for election. Notice of elections and changes to the Executive Committee membership must be sent to the Steering Committee of the EPEA.
- The branch must call an Annual General Meeting.
- The branch must provide a written report for each EPEA Steering Committee biannual meeting.
- The branch must open a bank account and furnish details of any funds held to the Steering Committee of the EPEA if requested.