The Norfolk Freegle groups have always worked closely together and they decided in 2010 to raise funds to commission their own platform. Waveney Freegle (bordering Norfolk in north Suffolk) also joined the project. The idea had been around a long time and often discussed, but the move from Freecycle to Freegle liberated the groups and encouraged local development.
The reasoning behind providing a new platform was that the moderators spent a significant amount of time helping new (and some not so new) members to use the system, because Yahoo! Groups was not designed for Freegle purposes. They felt strongly that Freegle's use and growth had become increasingly limited by this, so they wanted to develop a customised online re-use system for Norfolk and Waveney.
The local team of moderators had been working together for a long time, with an active and supportive local mods group and also meeting up in person on a regular basis. They produced a written case for the development, adopted a constitution, opened a bank account, obtained charitable status for tax purposes from the HMRC and registered for VAT.
On the basis of being a properly constituted group and in support of a better platform than Yahoo, Norfolk County Council promised £2000 to get the project underway, with a letter of recommendation that the group could use to support other grant applications.
Whilst Norfolk was commissioning, testing and implementing the system, Freegle was nationally developing the Freegle Direct interface which has allowed all groups to have similar facilities to the Norfolk system whilst still being hosted on Yahoo Groups, and more recently to be hosted on the national website. The Norfolk and Waveney website went live in July 2012 - http://norfolkfreegle.org
The initial funding to set up the system was raised through:
- £10,000 - Awards for All programme run by the Big Lottery Fund
- £2,000 - Norfolk County Council
- £5,000 - South Norfolk District Council Greenest Communities Competition
- £1,994 - Saffron Community Foundation
- £1,000 from 3 individual Waveney Councillor grants from Suffolk County Council
- £500 from the Co-operative Bank
- Heaser Business Consulting Ltd provided website development and support (partly funded by the above grants and partly given as in-kind support)
- Computer Service Centre provided hosting for the website as in-kind support
Funding since the initial phase has been via:
- Norfolk County Council, who have given an annual amount for further development of the site
- Heaser Business Consulting Ltd, providing tech support and further development
- Computer Service Centre, continuing to provide hosting as in-kind support
Key Features of System for Members
- Easy to join
- Clear help at every stage of using the system
- Smart categorisation and location awareness allows matching of requests and offers
- Underlying Norfolk and Waveney wide system, but with localised home pages gives flexibility and sense of community
- Events and local recycling/reuse information facility
- Positive feedback system for transactions
- All transactions take place within the system
- The ability of freeglers to set their own area of interest
- Statistics can be produced to demonstrate reuse
- Security of personal details which eliminates spam
Key Features of System for Volunteers
- Clear 'queues' of pending moderation
- System encourages correct information to be inputted by members so very little moderation needed
- Internal mail system which offers security and information for volunteers
- Volunteers can moderate just their community or can cover a wider area
Can Other Groups Use This Platform?
Yes! The local volunteer team are happy to share their coding and experience with other Freegle groups. Unfortunately, they can't offer financial help in setting it up elsewhere, but please do email them to discuss and find out more.
- Norfolk Freegle Registered address is: 25 Abinger Way, Norwich, NR4 6LJ
- Registered as a charity for tax purposes with HMRC - ref. no. XT26790
- Registered for VAT - Reg. no. 112 8607 34
- Constitution - see second example shown on Group Constitution
- Accounts - contact email@example.com if you would like financial information