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ASSAP History: 'Local and other groups'
by Val Hope

History Index

A number of local groups have been set up by members over the years to provide a more active form of participation in their areas, and we have a Groups Officer to provide assistance. Local groups can make it easier for central ASSAP to reach out to the regions, helping to find premises for training days, the AGM and social meetings such as anniversary celebrations.

Rules for group affiliation were first discussed back in 1982, and the Executive for a while considered referring to it as cooperation instead. A general rule of thumb was that the affiliation had to be beneficial to both sides. Affiliation to ASSAP enables groups to use our name. These rules have been revisited over the years, and we have had to expel a small number of groups. Affiliation and loyalty to ASSAP have been tricky issues at times, with letters published in ASSAP News about case ownership, membership of groups and related issues.

Various efforts have been made to produce a ‘new groups pack’ for members aiming to form a local group, giving basic information on getting members and hints on keeping the group operating. Groups have always come and then gone, as organizers lose interest or run out of steam. The same can be said of Groups Officers, often defeated by the thankless task of keeping in touch with groups who make contact once or twice then vanish.

Not all groups are ephemeral. A number of affiliated and/or local groups seem to have been around for almost as long as ASSAP itself. One of these is the Northern Group, first mentioned in ASSAP News back in 1993 when it had already been active for some time. Once based around Blackpool, where it held the ‘Future of Psychic Research’ conference in 1994, the members are a little more scattered these days, but they still get together for investigations in the north of England. Their investigations show what can be achieved on a local scale through building a good working relationship with the managers of a property.

Affiliated group Parasearch has also been around a while. It kicked off its 15th anniversary events in 2002 with a conference in Worcester Guildhall and celebrated its 20th anniversary alongside ASSAP in Worcester in 2006. And we mustn’t forget TEMS, Lionel Beer’s Travel and Earth Mysteries Society, formed in 1992. TEMS marked its 10th anniversary in January 2002 with a special meeting on crop circles, the underground cities of Cappadocia, and a slide show on holy wells, mazes and strange tombs. It is said that a silver-clad alien popped in after supper. Only those who were there will know the truth.

Groups that we had contact with in the past include KASPR, the Kent Association of Psychical Research. It was run by Eileen Barnes and had Alan Cleaver as a member while he lived locally. They were involved in Christos and table tilting, and local members of ASSAP in south-east London attended a discussion of exorcism with the Church of England’s very level-headed exorcist, Father Dominic of Southwark Cathedral. The Sheffield Society for Research into the Paranormal, under the guidance of Dr Michele Clare, was also very active. This led ASSAP to hold its fourth AGM in Sheffield. An afternoon of lectures from Ken Phillips and Jenny Randles accompanied the official business, and Sunday saw us on a guided tour of Sheffield’s paranormal hotspots.

Current groups, some affiliated, others just taking the opportunity to advertise through us, are listed on the back page of ASSAP News along with details of their events. APIS, currently headed by Hertfordshire-based Damien O'Dell, is active in the Home Counties north of London and over in East Anglia. North-west England and the Midlands are two other hotspots for groups at the moment. Groups are also welcome to publicize their research projects through us, as did Paranormal Awakening with its EVP research in 2005. Dave Wood’s Swindon-based group PSI also published research on attitudes to parapsychologists and lay researchers in Anomaly in 2006.

ASSAP members are often invited to local groups’ meetings and conferences, and these are covered in ASSAP News whenever there is sufficient space (provided that someone has volunteered to do a write-up). There’s also space on the website for groups to advertise their events, but few currently take us up on the offer.
© Valerie Hope 2007