At the heart of everything we do are our members who support our values and deliver the vast majority of our work by volunteering their time and energy. At our annual general meeting, called general council, these volunteers elect a board of trustees who run the charity on their behalf. Formally, we are the Ramblers Association, but we operate as the Ramblers.
There are around five hundred Ramblers groups in Britain. When you join the Ramblers we can allocate you to your nearest group but you can also choose which group to join. Some people join a group near where they work while others join groups that are aimed at a particular age group.
Your group will add to your welcome into the Ramblers by letting you know about what's happening locally. Whichever one you join, you can volunteer or walk with any or all of our groups across Britain. And if your nearest group is too far away can help you set up one in your community.
Groups are run entirely by volunteers who work together to further our work. Depending on where they are and who’s involved, groups will inspect paths, put on led walks, run local campaigns, organise group walking holidays or do practical work improving paths. They also have a strong social element with everything from afternoon teas to curry nights.
To ensure that Ramblers members have real ownership of what we do locally, each group is run by a committee that is elected annually.
Our groups co-operate together as ‘areas’. We divide the country into over 50 areas broadly coinciding with a county or regional boundary.
Area volunteers help support and coordinate the work of the groups in delivering our mission. For example they help identify what funds groups need and encourage groups to try out new things. Many area volunteers are delegates from the constituent groups which helps to make sure that groups feel part of the wider organisation.
In England and Wales areas play a pivotal role in coordinating volunteers who work to protect paths and increase access to the countryside. For example, an area will have volunteers inspecting footpaths in each parish and will then liaise with the relevant highway authority to get problems solved.
Areas play a key role in communicating our work. They provide a first point of contact for the Ramblers with local government, other local charities and the local offices of national bodies such as Natural England.
Areas elect delegates to attend our annual general council, which in turn elects the board of trustees who run the organisation on behalf of members. General council also holds the trustees to account, approves the annual report and accounts and provides guidance. It is also the ultimate authority for changes to our constitution.
The trustees are all volunteers. They steer the charity and guarantee its long term health and strength. They appoint and oversee the chief executive, approve the business plan and agree the annual budget. The minutes of board meetings are available so that all members can see what the board is doing on their behalf.
Whichever nation they call home, every member who joins us is part of Ramblers Great Britain. Ramblers Scotland and Ramblers Cymru operate independently but within the Ramblers GB family. Areas in Scotland and Wales elect a national council similar to the general council. These councils elect an executive committee who set the strategic direction and policy for our work in Scotland and Wales.
We invite organisations who support our aims and values to become affiliates. We have hundreds of affiliates who participate in our democracy in a similar way to Ramblers groups themselves.
Tens of thousands of people who are not members of the Ramblers also take part in and support our activities. There are many opportunities to help out from supporting our campaigns and leading health walks to helping clear a footpath.