Volunteers’ Week is an opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate the work of our volunteers over the past 12 months - and this year has seen big changes for the British Science Association (BSA) and our volunteers. In April, we announced changes to our network of regional volunteer branchesNow, three-quarters of our branches are working towards transitioning into autonomous groups or formalising plans to merge with other local groups with similar aims. During Volunteers’ Week we’d like to update you on some of these exciting developments and share some resources that can be used to support volunteer groups moving forwards.  

New and exciting endeavours

The Bristol and Bath Branch has decided that there is ample science engagement activity in the area. They are therefore focusing on the Bristol Science Film Festival, which the branch has successfully run annually since 2016, and have created an unincorporated association to organise and run this specific event, as well as additional activities throughout the year. The Bristol Science Film Festival has also recently joined the UK Science Festival Network, where they will be able to learn from other festivals across the UK and share best practise while growing with the sector.  

Robbie and Katherine from the Bristol Science Film Festival said: "It's been great to have the support of the BSA team to become an independent association. We're so excited [for the Film Festival] to turn five next year and continue encouraging amateur filmmakers to push the envelope of science communication through film." 

The Brighton & Hove Branch and the Lewes Branch are merging with a new charitable incorporated organisation, Curiosity Sussex. Curiosity Sussex is awaiting word of its application to the charity commission, and in the meantime, volunteers are already busy applying for funding and planning their first event, which is scheduled for October 2019. 

The North West SciBar Network, a branch which consists of 11 scibars in towns and cities in the North West, will be continuing its great work as a new, independent organisation, the North West Science Alliance.  

The Aberdeen Branch formed in 1999 and is now becoming Science Aberdeen. The group will be focusing on reaching under-represented groups and will be working with Station House Media Unit’s Youth Media Team. Our Caithness Branch is becoming Science North Scotland and will be supporting STEM activities relating to the proposed Sutherland Spaceport, working with the Caithness Astronomy Group, running CREST Award projects in primary schools and more.  

The Cornwall Branch is becoming the Cornwall Science Community and the Reading Branch is becoming Science in Reading, to name a few more! These groups are in the process of setting out their governing documents and finalising their plans for the year. Our Belfast Branch and Orkney Branch will be merging with their local science festivals, which will continue the branches’ activities and volunteering opportunities 

Helpful resources

We have been busy supporting our branch volunteers as they set up their new groups and have created several resources to help them, including suggestions for fundraising and tips for public relations and marketing. These resources are available on our website and may be of use to any volunteer group. 

We are looking forward to seeing how these groups grow and evolve as autonomous organisations and wish them the best of luck in their endeavours! You can keep updated with their events and activities by checking out this page on our website, which will soon share links to the new groups.