Survey Details

Who, When, How

Though a handful of responses came by post, most were received through the online survey at This was promoted via appearances on local radio, features in relevant newsletters and magazines, personal messages (sent by email), and by using social media such as twitter and facebook. Though I was helped occasionally by a part-time researcher, sadly I did not have the funds to launch a major nationwide campaign to promote the survey.

Nonetheless respondents came from all over Britain, and they were of all ages – ‘nappies to nineties’ as one respondent put it.

The results of the survey are based on 179 responses from 173 different groups. Using the average attendance reported at their meetings, this represents well over 5000 active group members.

Is that a significant fraction of the total number of group members? Recent estimates suggest that there may be between 1 and 1.5 million groups active in Britain today, in which case this project covered little more than 0.01% of the field. So no, this survey did not involve a statistically significant proportion of those who belong to groups.

Does that matter?

Yes and no. The one thing to stress is that the conclusions in my book are not founded on these statistics. They are the half-time entertainment. Nothing more.

But, and there are those who would disagree, even if the survey had canvassed the opinions of 100,000 group members the results would not prove a thing in isolation. All they can do is provide an indication as to what may be happening.

As Jacob Bronowski puts it, unforgettably, from 2:45 on, ‘every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal.’ Approaching the world of small groups using only numbers, taking the implications of a survey of small groups too far and making absolute judgements, would be to miss the point entirely.

Why? Because the cost and sheer impracticality of collecting exhaustive data on these groups means that there will never be a complete set of figures about how many of us club together in this country. For the most part, the groups we join will fly beneath the radar with which we monitor society.

So what can we do?

Either we accept a grim, Positivist take on the world and declare that without comprehensive statistics there’s nothing to discuss. If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.

Or, we can go about it another way.

This is what I’ve tried to do in Together. I’ve made a series of judgements based on the numbers that exist – including those generated by my survey – as well as the political, social and legal history of these groups and psychological studies into how we behave within them, why, and what gaps they fill in our social equilibrium.

As you’ll see in the book, the emphasis is certainly on the cultural side of things. And yet, in the spirit of Bronowski, I can’t be entirely sure that this was the correct approach. Read the book and let me know what you think.


Groups That Took Part

The National Fancy Rat Society

Apperley Cricket Club

The Lower Wharfedale Group of the Ramblers

Hadleigh Bobbin Lace-Making Class

Pimlico Puffins

Christian Naturist Fellowship

Inverness Field Archery Club

Outdoor Swimming Society

Wimbledon Book Club

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA)

The London Beer Meetup

London Pooches and Pals Meetup Group

The South-East London Meetup Group

The London Rock Meetup Group

Norwich Coin and Medal Society

London BookCrossing Group

Leeds Morris Men

Headingley Badminton Club

The West Yorkshire Fuchsia Society, Leeds

Littlehampton DollsHouse Club

Rutland Road Allotment Association

Subterranea Britannica

Sunday Hoop Club (aka London Hula Hoopers Meetup)

Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society Ltd

London Photographic Meetup Group

Wye Valley Transport Interest Group


Allotment Association, Crosby, Merseyside

Thameside Sewing Bees

Coquet Yacht Club

The Real Book Club (TRBC)

University of Edinburgh Humanist Society (HS)


The Young Georgians

Rotary Club of Stirling

Model Steam Road Vehicle Society


Briston Players

Edinburgh University Philosophy Society

D.A.M.E. (Dolls’ House and Miniature Enthusiasts)

Mini-Ness Dolls House Club

Bozeat Players

Mendip Caving Group

Alt Tuesdays Caving Collective

Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society

Wells Diving Group

Sevenoaks Allotment Holders Association

Calderdale Leisure Gardens Federation

The Association of Sustainability Practitioners

The Blackburn and East Lancashire Beekeepers Association

Ridgewood Sun Club

Altrincham and District Natural History Society

Berkshire Family History Society

32nd (Cornwall) Regiment Foot 1808–1815

American Civil War Society

Chesham & District Natural History Society

Dorset Geologists’ Association Group

East Herts Geology Club

Shropshire Geological Society

Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum

The British Gladiolus Society

Cleveland Naturalists’ Field Club

Friends of Bunting’s Wood

Wenvoe Wildlife Group

Colchester Natural History Society

Craven & Pendle Geological Society

Yorkshire Philosophical Society

Welford Women’s Winter Reading Group

Wharfedale Gardeners

The Dell Angling Society

Matienzo Caving Expeditions

Strathclyde University Canoe Club

NUI Galway Kayak Club

Baldock and District Canoe Club

Meridian Canoe Club

Bristol Exploration Club

Hood Bikers

South Wales Caving Club

Mildenhall Naturist Swimming Club

The Desert Divas

Two Rivers Naturist Club

South Western Outdoor Club

The Preston Stroke Club

Stroke Care for Newbury and West Berkshire Support Groups

Macclesfield and District Young Stroke Society

Derby Younger Stroke Social Group

Plane Stupid


Little Moor Allotment Association

Historical Society of Frampton

Greater London Dutch Rabbit Club

Camborne-Redruth Natural History Society

South Downs Society

Broomhouse Lane Allotment Association

Norfolk Federation of Allotments

Furness Family History Society

North Cheshire Family History Society

The Northern Koi Club

Central Scotland Bat Group

Calthorpe Project Wednesday Evening 7:30 Athletic

Middlesex County Cricket League

Shropshire Ornithological Society

The Association of British Fungus Groups

Otley Aquarists Society

Essex Badger Protection Society

South Essex Natural History Society

Barnsley Naturalist and Scientific Society

Brandon & Wolston Young Farmers Club

Welford Women’s Institute

Leamington Hastings Young Farmers Club

Barston & District Young Farmers Club

Welford School Association

Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire Bat Group

Network 2012

Exeter Canoe Club

Dabbers Session

Hoover Amateur Radio Club

The Calton Ramblers

The Remainders

Bovey Book Group

Pub History Society

New Embroidery Group

Dulwich Quilters

South London Women Artists

Dulwich Dilettantes

Painswick Players

Denmead Operatic Society

Gravesend & District Theatre Guild

Middle and East Greens Allotment Association Morpeth

Herefordshire Goat Club

Malvern Hills District Brass Band

Kippax Central W. M. C.

Dawlish Black Swan Handbell Ringers

Bingley Amateur Swimming Club

Stockport Amateur Operatic Society

Artful Dodgers

Waltham Forest Hockey Club

AFC Snappers

South London Ladies Book Club

Stoke-on-Trent Reading Group

Connect Group


Leytonstone Allotment Holders Association

Seven Kings and Goodmayes Allotment Society

Gosport Musical Theatre Productions

North Leigh Short Mat Bowls

The Bostock Singers

Liverpool Old Swan Cage Birds Society

Yoga Group

Kent lyengar Yoga Institute (KIYI)

Wanderers Essex Section

Southeast Koi club

Scottish Outdoor Club

Areley Kings Players

Swansea & District Leisure Club

Sussex Chorus

Birkbeck Early Modern Society

Mabo Miniature Maniacs Dolls House Club

Tern Valley Vintage

Machinery Trust Ltd

East London Advanced

Motorcyclists (ELAM)

Midland Vehicle Preservation Society