The membership process

If you’ve explored this website and like what you see, you may now be wondering how you go about joining ChaCo.

Are there any places left?

Most of our homes have now been allocated – but not all of them. We have plenty of interest in the remaining homes, but circumstances change, prospective residents drop out and new people get in touch. You can check out the current situation here.

annotated view of ChaCo

Invitation only

The first thing to understand is that ChaCo is a community, and the only way of being allocated a place is by invitation from your future neighbours. This is reflected at every stage of our lengthy membership process which is all about the applicant and the members getting to know each other.

As a potential resident, you’ll need to know what’s required in terms of time, money and commitment, but – above all – you need to decide whether you really want this bunch of people as your neighbours. Meanwhile, of course, the existing members of ChaCo need to know you well enough to decide if you’re likely to fit into the day to day life of the community and whether you’re likely to take on an appropriate share of the workload.

The process, step by step

  1. Become a Friend of ChaCo. Anyone can become a Friend, with no cost and no obligation: but it’s the essential first step towards membership because it puts you on our mailing list.
  2. You decide you’re interested in joining. If we think you’ve got a reasonable chance of one day becoming a Full Member and being allocated a unit, then…
  3. We add you to the “Entry Pool”. As soon as we can we’ll allocate you a “Buddy” who will talk you through the membership process, attempt to answer your questions, and help you fill in the application form to become a Prospective Member.
  4. Prospective Membership. If the existing members accept you as a Prospective Member, you then have at least 6 months – with the help of your Buddy – to learn all about ChaCo and throw yourself into the life and work of the group as much as you can.
  5. Apply for Full Membership. If we haven’t seriously fallen out after 6 months and the idea of living in ChaCo is still attractive, you can then apply to become a Full Member.
  6. Full Membership. If the existing members decide they know you well enough to think you’d fit in, and there’s a suitable unit available that you can afford, and you help fulfill any remaining allocation targets… you’ll be invited to sign a lease agreement, become a Full Member of ChaCo and be allocated one of our units.
ChaCo members filming on site

 

The hurdles

It will be obvious from the above that there are many hurdles to overcome before crossing the finishing line as a Full Member of ChaCo.

  • Availability of units. Are there any units left of the size and tenure you want? How many other potential residents have their eye on these units? Read more >>
  • Allocation targets. Two thirds of our units are reserved for Chapeltown people. And we’ve also reserved some of our homes for households representing different age groups, ethnicities, incomes etc. Read our Allocations Policy >>
  • Skills and involvement. Together, ChaCo members are responsible for running a £5m building project as well as sharing the day to day work required to keep the show on the road. This includes gardening, admin, organising and preparing occasional shared meals and other community events, running the carpool, collecting the rent, resolving disputes etc. We’ll need to make sure we’ve got all the essential skills covered, and we need to know that everyone’s going to share some aspect of the workload. So a key part of being a Prospective Member is turning up to meetings and getting stuck into one of the small work groups.
  • Community compatibility. One of the key questions we’ll be asking ourselves is: “How does this person react when things don’t go their own way?”. An ability to fit in well with others, even when disagreeing with them, is essential – as is the ability to put the needs of the group above your own needs. Fragile egos and demanding personalities are unlikely to be invited to join. And because we’re aiming for diversity, Cultural Intelligence – being able to relate to people who are very different from you – is another vital requirement.
  • Manageable needs. Our Allocations Policy reserves 15% of our units for households including someone with a physical or mental disability. However, ChaCo should not be seen as a substitute for proper care support. Members will take into account ChaCo’s existing capacity and commitments when considering someone whose particular needs are likely to put a significant demand on ChaCo’s resources. ChaCo will generally attempt to avoid a boundary-crossing situation where a care professional and their current or former client are both members.

Of course, none of the existing members of ChaCo are perfect either! If we seem to be setting the bar quite high, we do know that we’re all human and every one of us has occasional bad days. When it comes to the crunch, we’re looking for future neighbours who are ready to go on a journey with us, learning as we go, building trust and becoming more resilient and understanding every time we hit another bump in the road.

We know it’s hard

Being a Prospective Member is not easy. You’re expected to commit time and emotional energy to a dream that might never come to fruition for you. It can feel like being in a job interview that lasts months, without knowing whether you’ll eventually be accepted.

The only advantage of this from ChaCo’s point of view is that we get to see how well you cope with the uncertainty – but we’d rather spare you this frustration and stress, as much as possible. For this reason, we’ll always try to give Prospective Members realistic feedback – and if at any stage in the membership process we feel that someone is unlikely to make it through to Full Membership, we’ll try to let them know sooner rather than later.

 

Nobody’s going to get 100% of what they want.

But we’re all committed to try and get 90% for everyone.