How to start a new Special Interest Group

As a learning organisation, FPH is keen to support the development of Special Interest Groups (SIGS). While we are not prescriptive about the topic area or work programme of any particular SIG, it is important that SIGs support the delivery of FPH’s strategy. To that end, the Policy Committee will assess all applications against our strategic priorities when determining the establishment of any SIG.

To set up your SIG:

  1. Complete this SIG Request Pro-Forma and return it to the FPH Policy Team at policy@fph.org.uk. To help you complete this, it is a good idea to read the SIG Terms of Reference so you understand the governance arrangements and requirements.
  2. The Policy Team will then assess your application and pass it on to the Policy Committee for approval.
  3. Once / if the Policy Committee has approved the SIG, the Policy Team will be in touch with you to discuss membership recruitment, governance, and the type of administrative support that the Policy Team here at FPH can provide for your SIG moving forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Special Interest Groups are a crucial source of knowledge and expertise for the Faculty. Without SIGs we would not be able to develop policy and advocate for better health for all. These FAQs are designed to give you the answers to the most commonly asked questions relating to SIGs. If you have a question that we haven’t answered, please get in touch with the Faculty at policy@fph.org.uk or 020 3696 1473.

Do all members of my SIG need to be members of FPH?
Yes, all members of your SIG will need to hold some form of membership with FPH. We recommend in the first instance that prospective members of your SIG who are not already FPH members join as an Associate member. We understand that as Chair you may be reaching out to non-FPH members to expand the reach of your SIG into new territory. We welcome and would encourage you to invite non-FPH members along to attend a few meetings to learn more about your SIG, but with the understanding that if they then wish to join your SIG they would also need to first join FPH at least as an Associate member.

Are there limits on the number of members that my SIG can have?
There are no restrictions on the number of members of any grade who can join your SIG. For your SIG to be considered an FPH SIG, however, it must have at least five FPH members with voting privileges. All categories of FPH membership, with the exception of Student, Associate, Practitioner, Enrolled Practitioner and International Practitioner, have voting privileges. Some SIGs with a large membership find it useful to split the SIG into a smaller group of ‘core’ members who carry forward the work plan, and a general membership group who keep a watching brief or get involved in specific issues as they arise, such as completing a consultation response or attending an event on behalf of the SIG. There is no requirement to organise your SIG this way and it is up to you and your membership to determine the best way of working. As Chair, the amount of people in your SIG is entirely up to your discretion, which means you can limit your membership numbers overall if you so wish to.

How will I know if potential new members of my SIG are FPH members or not?
The new SIG application form (available on the SIG pages of the FPH website) features a space where applicants need to indicate whether they are FPH members. The application form also features links and brief instructions for non-members to get in touch with the FPH membership department if they want to join FPH or check their membership status before they submit their application. If you are still uncertain about a prospective member’s eligibility, you can email policy@fph.org.uk or phone 020 3696 1473 and we can check membership status for you.

What are my membership requirements as Chair or Co-Chair?
As Chair of a SIG, you must be at least a MFPH and be in good standing. You do not need to be enrolled in the training scheme to be a MFPH. It also permissible for two people to be co-Chairs of a SIG, with one being an MFPH and the other being an FPH member at any grade.

How long does my term last as Chair?
Your term as Chair lasts for a maximum of three years. Your membership can then re-elect you for one further three year term. The same applies to your Vice-Chair.

How do prospective members join my SIG?
The FPH SIG webpage instructs prospective members to complete and email the online membership application form directly to you. They do not need to contact FPH first, so you will often be their first port of call. This mean it’s up to you to assess their eligibility, answer their initial questions, and hopefully then invite them to join.

Some members of my SIG are not currently FPH members – what do I do?
We understand, because of previous regulations in the SIG Terms of Reference, that your SIG may have non-FPH members among its current membership who make a valuable contribution to the work that you are able to do. However, for FPH SIGs to function as the voice of FPH on specific policy areas and serve the needs and aspirations of FPH members, all the members of your SIG need to be FPH members as well. A good first step would be to contact those members individually and put them in touch with FPH’s membership department, who can talk them though their various membership options. The membership department can be reached at membership@fph.org.uk or 020 3696 1479. It is worth stressing that Associate membership starts at £52 per year (roughly £4 per month) and gives members access to a range of member benefits and services. You may also want to consider nominating a prospective member of your SIG who is not already an FPH member to become an FPH member by distinction. Election to membership or fellowship of FPH via distinction is our way of recognising those who have made a significant contribution to public health and/or the work of FPH. To nominate a member by distinction or to learn more about how to do this, please contact the FPH membership department.

How do I recruit new members to my SIG?
The FPH website advertises membership of your SIG all year round, so a good first step would be to make sure that all of the information you would like potential future members to see is included on your individual SIG webpage. You can also advertise for members in the monthly e-Bulletin, via our blog and through all of our social media channels. Please email FPH’s Communications Manager, David Parkinson at davidparkinson@fph.org.uk with any web or social media content you would like us to promote for you on your dedicated SIG page or via other communications channels.

Where does my SIG sit organisationally within FPH?
All SIGs are supported by a ‘parent committee’- which are standing or sub-committees of the Faculty. They include: Health Policy (which reports directly to the FPH Board), Health Improvement, Health Protection, Health Services, Academic & Research, Climate & Health and Global Health. If you do not already know which committee is your parent committee, please email policy@fph.org.uk. Your parent committee must sign-off your SIG’s work plan and is formally responsible for reporting your group’s progress through the year to the FPH Board.

What is my SIG work plan and when do I need to submit it?
To help SIGs organise their work and achieve their aspirations, FPH asks that all SIGs complete an annual work plan. We provide the one page work plan template for you and ask that you arrange with your parent committee chair how and when you would like to report against its progress. Your parent committee meets quarterly and ideally you should be invited to at least one meeting to discuss the work of your SIG and also learn more about the work of the parent committee.

How else does my parent committee provide oversight and support to my SIG?
Your SIG will need to seek sign-off or approval for any public-facing work (excluding ad-hoc social media) from your parent committee. For example, any consultation responses, position papers, discussion documents, media work, or journal articles produced by your SIG will need to be approved by your parent committee. Additionally, you will need to liaise with FPH’s Communications Manager David Parkinson on all media work.

What is the process for getting approval from my Parent Committee?
To get approval for your work you will need to submit it to the Chair and/or Vice-Chair of your parent committee via email. For more substantive pieces of work that have hard deadlines, such as a report launch or a consultation response, it is best practice to give your parent committee at least two weeks to consider it, collate their comments, and return to you, while still leaving enough time for you to then revise and submit it.

What administrative support can the FPH staff team provide for my SIG?
While SIGs are largely self-administering and have a great deal of autonomy, the staff team is here to help you navigate the process of being an FPH SIG and is your point of access for disseminating the work of your SIG to the wider FPH membership and public. We’ve outlined in full how we can support your SIG administratively, help you deliver your work plans, and grow and engage your membership in our ‘offer’ document to SIGs. Please email policy@fph.org.uk if you would like to receive another copy of it.

Do you offer meeting space or teleconference facilities and if so how do I access them?
Yes, we are happy to offer free use of tele/video conferencing facilities and meeting rooms in FPH’s offices (largest accommodating 16 people boardroom style / 18 people theatre style). If you would like to book a meeting or teleconference, please contact the Faculty via policy@fph.org.uk.

Do you offer any financial support for SIGs?
Very occasionally we may be able to offer some special funding for large SIG events (such as a conference or a talk), but the expectation is that you will seek out your own funding sources (grants, donations, sponsorship, payments in kind etc.) to support your SIG’s activities. When special funding is made available for specific purposes, we will contact all SIG Chairs to let you know of the opportunity. We do not cover expenses for normal SIG meetings, but we do pay travel expenses for SIG Chairs – or a nominated SIG representative – to attend SIG Chairs meeting in London in line with the FPH expenses policy.

How can I use FPH’s communications channels to promote the work of my SIG?
We are very keen to promote the excellent work that you are already doing and will be doing in the future. We can promote your work in the following ways:

  • FPH website: Every SIG has its own page on the FPH website where members and prospective members will go to find out about the work of your SIG and apply to be a member. To update your page, please email policy@fph.org.uk with the documents and text you would like to be amended or uploaded.
  • Twitter: FPH’s twitter account has nearly 15,000 followers and is growing every day. We would love to tweet about the work you’re doing so please email policy@fph.org.uk with your 280 characters or less and don’t forget to follow us on @FPH.
  • Monthly Members’ e-Bulletin: Sent to all FPH members on the first working day of the month, our e-Bulletin is a great place to advertise the work of your SIG to other members. To see about featuring in the next edition, please email policy@fph.org.uk.
  • FPH Blog: We hope your SIG will want to feature its work in our award-winning blog, Better Health for All. To submit a blog post of around 400-500 words please email policy@fph.org.uk with your text. We can publish relevant pictures with the blog as well, so don’t forget to include those too.
  • Media work: From time to time we may also contact you or a member of your SIG to act as a media spokesperson if we are contacted by a member of the press regarding a story on your SIG’s subject-matter. Similarly, if you release a report or hold a large event, we may be able to support you in engaging with the national press. If you are interested in learning more about how to act as a media spokesperson please contact the Faculty’s Communications Manager at david.parkinson@fph.org.uk. If you have any other general enquiries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via policy@fph.org.uk.
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