This is an alternative if you are unable to establish a ‘Friends Group’, or if your group decides that it does not wish to be constituted. As individuals working together without any formal structure the group can run simple projects and community events.

These kinds of groups are set up for lots of reasons but usually because of shared interests or concerns about a particular issue the area may be suffering from (for example, vandalism or noise might be a problem, play facilities might be poor or improvements needed to pathways).

Setting up an informal group is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to start. It enables individuals from a community to work together to improve their local Green Space without being formally constituted. What’s more, anyone who is entitled by the group’s rules to be a member can simply turn up and take part - the group can be whatever its members want it to be and carry out whatever activity they chose – so the group doesn’t need to keep a membership list, (unless there is a membership fee).

The group doesn’t have to be registered with any regulatory body, provided it doesn’t have charitable aims or an annual income above £5,000, (in which case you are required to register with the Charity Commission).
If the group does decide to draw up its own democratic constitution setting out the rules under which it will be run, there is no need to have it agreed by any outside body, (unless registering as a charity).

Things to consider

As an informal un-constituted group, you will have no separate legal existence; the group is seen as a collection of individuals. This means that:

  • it cannot own property in its own right
  • it cannot enter into contracts
  • if it wants to rent premises or employ people, this is done in the eyes of the law by individuals on behalf the group,
  • individual members of the management committee are personally responsible for the group’s obligations and debt and are liable if, for example, it is sued.

You may therefore decide that the group needs a structure, giving it a legal existence and giving members more individual protection, especially if you are considering doing something more major, such as employing a worker or managing a building.


Some funders may prefer a more formal structure, especially if the group are looking for big sums of money.

In addition, you may not be able to access some funding as it may only be available to registered charities.


In order to be covered for carrying out activities and tasks, your group will need to become associated with the local Community Partnership. There are Community Partnerships for every ward in Torbay, some working in partnership with the adjacent ward, and others with more than one per ward. Most Green Space Groups are able to gain insurance cover through the partnership; (see ‘Further Resources & Support’).

To be covered by our insurance, individuals and non-constituted groups must be working on activities agreed by the Torbay Green Spaces Place-keeping resources setting up an informal Green Space Group Council’s Natural Environment Services team and under their direct control and management.

This means that you will only be covered if you are assisting with the business of the Natural Environment Service and if the team are directly supervising any activities. Activities may also be supervised by an organisation/contractor appointed by the Natural Environment Services team.

Any activities which are not agreed and directly controlled and supervised by us will not be insured by the Council’s insurance and the legal liability of such activities would remain with the responsible individual/ group. We cannot be held responsible for activities that individuals/groups undertake without direct supervision from them or their appointed representative.

What to do next

Registering your group

We ask all formal and informal Green Space groups to register with us. This enables the Natural Environment Services team to keep you informed of Green Spaces news and to send you relevant information on funding and training, as well as connecting you with a network of Green Space groups across the bay. It also means that enquiries from people wanting to volunteer, businesses wanting to get involved or organisations offering support can be directed to the relevant group(s).

You can register your group through the Torbay Green Spaces officers.

  Register your group Opens in a new window

Green Spaces Pledge Once you have started forming your group the members will have to decide how it is going to progress. The Green Spaces Pledge sets out the positive intention of the group and the Natural Environment Services and outlines the support offered. It is not intended as a legal document or contract but is aimed to help ensure the management and development of the Green Space is supported by both parties.

Contact the Torbay Green Spaces officers for more information.

Groundwork South

The Natural Environment Services team works with partner organisation Groundwork
South to support Green Space groups.

Once you are decided about establishing a group, contact Groundwork South to liaise with the Torbay Green Spaces officers. They can offer assistance in setting up your group and be able to support your group throughout.
07940 510 616

Parks Community UK

Parks Community UK supports Green Space groups across the country to feel better equipped and more confident in their active involvement with their local park. Their website has information, ideas and inspiration for green space groups.

National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces

The federation is the umbrella organisation that aims to amplify the voices of Green Space groups across the UK. It works with a grassroots movement of over 6,000 local Friends of Parks groups, supporting volunteers who act on behalf of the communities who use and care about public green spaces of all kinds.

Torbay Community Partnerships

Community Partnerships provide an opportunity for people who live or work in the different parts of Torbay to discuss issues of common concern, influence the way in which services are provided and improve their local area. They are a one-stop shop for local people to ask questions of their local Councillors, find out what is going on in their neighbourhood, or just to link up with other residents. Each group holds regular public meetings open to anyone who lives or works in the area.

To find the partnership for your ward contact the Community Partnership office at Torbay Community Development Trust

01803 212638