Our organisational structure
In 2015, Bristol Insight took a significant step in its organisational development and became a registered charity. We remain a group of volunteers; peers who participate in and contribute to the development of the sangha (a traditional word meaning community) in a myriad ways but becoming a registered charity encourages us to further improve the way we organise both ourselves and our finances.
We organise ourselves in a way that is democratic, transparent and non-hierarchical. We operate as an inclusive sangha – we see everyone who attends our events, however frequently or infrequently, as Participants. Those who want to get more involved can do so by becoming Supporters, Organisers and/or Trustees.
As a registered charity, we are required to appoint trustees who oversee our operation. At present, we have 6 in place but are permitted up to 12. The nature or our charitable status means that registered Supporters of Bristol Insight Meditation elect our Trustees.
We are a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Our Charity number is 1162182.
Our charity objective grows from our love of the Dharma, an appreciation of our community of Bristol and the surrounding area and the aspiration that all our activities spring from compassion and generosity. We had to word it in a way that meets Charity Commission requirements:
To advance the education of the public in the subject of meditation and the teachings of the Buddha in particular but not exclusively by supporting and encouraging the study and practice of Buddhist insight meditation (also known as Vipassana meditative practice) for the benefit of people in Bristol and the surrounding areas.
We strive to be open to all and do not seek to convert or discriminate, irrespective of religious or political beliefs, ethnicity, gender, social background, age, sexual orientation or disability. We invite donations to cover our costs but our activities are open to everyone, irrespective of means. If there is a charge, we operate a sliding-scale fee, and we operate on a ‘not for profit basis’.
In 2009, Gordon Adam who helped to start Bristol Insight 15 years ago, wrote a history and appreciation of the group which you can read here. In it he draws attention to the many ways people get involved in Bristol Insight as well as some of its core values and qualities. Although we have grown considerably in size what Gordon says below remains a true reflection of Bristol Insight today.
‘Many people value and appreciate the group in all its forms—even those who rarely make it along to meetings, appreciate the fact that the group exists, and appreciate the newsletter for reminding them that it exists! People connect to the group in different ways—some come regularly to the Tuesday sits, some come occasionally to the day retreats, some only come to the films or the Focusing group, and some people I have only ever seen on the sangha walks! It seems to me that this diversity is one of the characteristics and richnesses of the group!
I think the group also offers key qualities of openness, inclusiveness and friendliness. The group has never been rigid or dogmatic or doctrinarian, and people’s different life experiences and points of view are generally welcomed in the group discussions (and in the newsletter). If I had to categorise our group I would call us a ‘Humanitarian Buddhist’ group—one where people’s experience and personal input is valued as much as our appreciation of the dharma.’