Quakers in Britain have a complex structure made up of different meetings, groups and committees. Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) is the charitable organisation which supports and works on behalf of all Quakers in Britain. Most of our work is run by volunteer members with support from BYM's paid staff.

The parts of our structure

    Local meeting

    For most Quakers the local meeting is their worshipping community. All meetings are different and work in slightly different ways.

    Local meetings:

    • hold meeting for worship; organise, encourage and support worshipping groups
    • welcome newcomers and encourage all to be involved in the Quaker community
    • involve and support children and young people, and their parents
    • offer loving support to each other
    • let people in the area know about Quakers and the meeting
    • form links with other churches and faith communities in the area
    • hold business meetings about local Quaker matters
    • take care of premises and collect contributions on behalf of the area meeting
    • prepare for area meeting and send representatives to it
    • report to area meeting as appropriate.

    Find your local Quaker meeting.

    Find out how we can offer support for meetings.

    Find out more about local meetings in Quaker faith & practice 4.31 (offsite link).

    Find out more about Quaker roles.

    Area meeting

    Area meetings are made up of several local Quaker meetings. Area meeting is the primary business meeting for Quakers and is also a worshipping community. Area meetings are charities and appoint trustees who work on behalf of all Quakers in the area. When a person joins Quakers, they become a member of the area meeting. Different area meetings work in slightly different ways.

    Area meeting:

    • oversees and supports local meetings
    • is responsible for the list of members
    • appoints people to positions of responsibility (ie elders and overseers)
    • is responsible for Quaker marriages
    • records deaths
    • is legally responsible for owning and managing buildings, finances, and employment
    • sets policies, including safeguarding, and health and safety
    • can communicate on behalf of local Quakers with Meeting for Sufferings and Yearly Meeting
    • sends a representative to Meeting for Sufferings.

    Find out how we can support your area meeting .

    Find out more about area meetings in Quaker faith & practice 4.1 (offsite link).

    Find out more about Quaker roles.

    General Meeting for Scotland

    General Meeting for Scotland has national responsibilities on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting, to represent and advance the life and witness of Quakers in Scotland. It consists of all Friends in membership of the Scottish area meetings, and meets at least quarterly. More information is available in Quaker faith & practice 5.03 (offsite link).

    General Meeting for Scotland has its own website at www.quakerscotland.org

    Meeting of Friends in Wales

    Meeting of Friends in Wales has national responsibilities on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting, to represent and advance the life and witness of Quakers within Wales. The meeting consists of all Friends who live in Wales or who are members in local meetings within Wales. More information is available in Quaker faith & practice 5.04 (offsite link).

    Meeting of Friends in Wales has its own website at www.quakersinwales.org.uk.

    Young Friends General Meeting

    Young Friends General Meeting is open to Quakers between the ages of eighteen and about thirty who need not be formally in membership of the Religious Society of Friends. Area meetings may appoint representatives to Young Friends General Meeting. At its meetings for business three times a year it organises a range of other events for young people. Young Friends General Meeting nominates two representatives to Meeting for Sufferings, being officers or others able to speak in its name. More information is available in Quaker faith & practice 5.08 (offsite link).

    Young Friends General Meeting has its own website at yfgm.quaker.org.uk.

    Meeting for Sufferings

    Meeting for Sufferings is the standing representative body of Quakers in Britain. It meets five or six times a year and attends to the business of the Yearly Meeting through the year. Members of Meeting for Sufferings represent one of the groups that form our structures and are appointed by Yearly Meeting.

    Find out more about Meeting for Sufferings.

    Standing committees

    There are four standing committees; each accountable to Yearly Meeting. Quakers from meetings throughout Britain are appointed to serve on them. The committees determine priorities, monitor and evaluate the work within their areas of responsibility.

    Yearly Meeting

    Yearly Meeting is both a gathering and an organisation. 'Yearly Meeting' is usually the name given to the gathering. 'Britain Yearly Meeting' is usually the name given to the organisation.

    British Quakers hold an assembly once each year. All members can participate. Those who attend local meetings, but who are not formally members may also participate with permission. Yearly Meeting has a variety of purposes, including reflecting on current concerns; and receiving reports from Yearly Meeting Trustees, Meeting for Sufferings and committees.

    Find out more about Britain Yearly Meeting from Quaker faith & practice 6 (offsite link).

    Britain Yearly Meeting

    Britain Yearly Meeting, the organisation, is the national body of Quakers in Britain. It is a registered charity and has trustees appointed by Yearly Meeting. All area meetings in Britain are linked to Britain Yearly Meeting. Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees are appointed by Yearly Meeting to act on its behalf as managing trustees of its work, assets and property.

    Britain Yearly Meeting has a central office in London (Friends House). The organisation employs about 150 staff, who undertake work on behalf of the Yearly Meeting. The staff are overseen by Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees. Staff work within five departments and report to the Recording Clerk, who is the senior member of staff.

    This work is funded by contributions from:

    • individual Quakers
    • Quaker meetings
    • charitable trusts
    • the café and letting rooms at Friends House
    • investment income

    Find out more about Britain Yearly Meeting in Quaker faith & practice 8 (offsite link).