Amateur Radio Clubs in 2022

Our thanks to Tim G5TM for the following question on Twitter, which has inspired this article:

Twitter Message

The good news is, “yes we have” – we’re currently running 3 surveys, one for newcomers, one for “all hams” and one for the training community. We’ve pulled together some of the data, for those interested in the current perception of clubs, post-Covid. The data is a little raw (with comments not spell checked), but it’s presented as-is for general interest. Scroll to the bottom to add your own comment, or to take part in the surveys, which are still active as of August 2022.


Survey Result: Online Foundation Students

Survey data comes from 1,352 responses from newcomers who have taken our online course (2021-22)

“I preferred to take the exam online rather than at a club”

  • Strongly Agree: 60.36%
  • Agree: 28.03%
  • Disagree: 5.62%
  • Strongly Disagree: 0.81%
  • No answer: 5.18%

“What are your views on the organisations you’ve encountered so far: Your local amateur radio club(s)”

  • Very Positive: 18.42%
  • OK: 13.09%
  • Not very positive: 5.25%
  • No contact: 475 35.13%
  • No answer: 28.11%

Freeform comments on the subject of clubs, from our newcomers:

  • I did it online because I don’t want to join a club as I see them a bit introverted
    I have noticed how stuffy it has become and how the operators are unhelpful to others they are as they ignore anyone that are not members of there club.
  • Disability (CFS/ME) making travel to a HAM radio club very difficult.
  • I would never of passed my exams if it hadnt been for the help I received from Angel of the North amateur radio club
  • have tried attending my local radio club and they have very very old understanding and very slow pace. Online radio club would be amazing as I find more useful information from fb groups etc
  • I did it online because I don’t want to join a club as I see them a bit introverted
  • I would have preferred a ‘hands on’ session at a club before Tx’ing live for the first time. My 1st Tx was to the MK Club radio net on Sunday PM. It worked out OK in the end but it would have been better to have a Full licence holder supervising me IMHO.
  • I missed not having personal contact with people over the last 18 months and am looking forward to meetings at my local club
  • My problem now is the lack of a local radio club (mid wales). I listen out on the 2m band, but the air is silent ! I
  • I carried out my study on my own due to covid and the fact the club where I live is more of people meeting rather than an actual club hut and gear.
  • Radio clubs that I’d attended previously appeared somewhat clicky and uninviting, especially when mentioning CB radio and the 11m band. This is something that needs to change if they are wanting people to join the hobby
  • Although I think it’s great the online courses and exams exist, I will probably seek out a club to gain confidence before I set up any equipment at home.
  • Feel a bit missing with regards to the practical elements and mic practice opportunities.
  • Some good people at the radio club have helped me get started, but still feel a bit bewildered.
  • xxxx club (where I have attended a few time) would probably not even know of the additional things a foundation holder could do to advance themselves and from attending with my partner find them not particularly hands on with going on the radio. I think clubs should be encouraged to use Radio more rather than just sit and drink tea and eat biscuits. I work shifts which is why I too the online course however if the club was my only option xxxxx would have put me off.
  • I have received lots of support from Colchester Radio Amateurs Club for which I am very grateful.
  • My “local” club is many many miles away and not very active it seems so perhaps something more internet based or even a book would be a good answer to this gap.
  • Although it would have been nice to have been able to attend local club for face to face hands on work , the Essex syllabus was excellent
  • I have had some real knock backs trying to join clubs. As soon as they find out you have done the online course they shun you.
    The lack of clubs makes it a hard hobby to get into as most hams are not willing to help and look down on new people like your stupid
  • I’ve found a local club that – fortunately – have members who go out of their way to give help, practical instructions and some social interaction (not the first club I found, unfortunately… those were rather clique-y and not very friendly).
  • Now online exams are here with no club interaction needed at all, lots of operators will be able to operate with zero practical experience (like me) I eventually found a local club that helped (though it’s struggling for membership, 8 weeks of attending and I’ve been the youngest there by a fair way at age 47)



Survey Result: 2022 “UK Ham Radio Survey”

Survey data comes from 414 responses in 2022. Survey still open: 2022 Survey

“Are you a member of any amateur radio clubs? If so, what types of clubs? (Tick all that apply)”

  • Traditional local club(s) – that meet at a fixed location: 51.21%
  • Essex Ham: 21.50%
  • Other Online / Virtual Club(s): 23.19%
  • Contest / Special Interest Group: 16.67%
  • RAYNET: 4.59%
  • Not a member of any club: 30.68%

“You selected that you are not a member of a traditional local radio club. Why is that?”

  • Not interested: 8.45%
  • No clubs near me: 6.28%
  • Local club doesn’t offer me what I want: 7.73%
  • Not got around to it yet: 9.18%
  • Limited income / Too expensive: 2.42%
  • I’m not a “club person”: 17.87%
  • I don’t feel welcome: 7.25%
  • Prefer online clubs: 6.04%
  • Club politics: 10.39%

Responses under “other” for why respondents haven’t joined a traditional club:

  • Not got time at the moment to properly engage
  • No vision for the future
  • in my 50s feel i am too young for my local clubs listening to there “gods waiting room” nets
  • Disabled
  • Can’t be bothered to rejoining old club
  • very limited spare time
  • CB radio groups which ham radio does not seem interested in.
  • Too busy as Scout Leader
  • My local club is full of [expletives deleted]
  • Work Shifts, only able to attend every 3 weeks
  • They meet only for the beer.
  • I do’t have time to attend meetings
  • Wheelchair user very anxious
  • Boring people that don’t make you feel welcome. The committee takes all the cudos for other people ideas as there own
  • My pattern of work prevents me taking part in a physical club
  • Disability access
  • Meetings clash with other interests
  • Mobility problems
  • Joined and left after all the childish bickering
  • I felt like an outsider at 2 clubs I attended (20 year ago)
  • Contacted local club and got no response!
  • I work evenings
  • Just stopped going and got out the habit.
  • disabled – no transport – virtually housebound –
  • There are insurance issues if a claim is made against a club.
  • Meeting times unsuitable
  • I’ll stay away from the egg stains and fist mics….
  • Lack of time working full time other commitments
  • Mobility issues
  • Work most evenings
  • Tried a few times but found it all rather odd.
  • Covid
  • Not enough spare time

Selection of freeform comments at the end of the survey, where clubs were mentioned:

  • Too ‘clicky’ and full of old men and weird peopleI feel that Traditional club’s are well past their ‘sell by date’.
    More can be learned from using the resources on the Web.
  • Clubs have long standing members not interested in helping newcomers, almost as though newcomers are an unwelcome distraction, which will see the demise of conventional clubs and the ruse of online versions, which is a shame.
  • clubs are great for all the reasons mentioned. It`s just that some people don`t like the politics and the `one upmanship ` that
    can be off putting
  • The radio club reflects its membership and not necessarily a geographical area. There is room in most places for both an ‘old farts’ club and a ‘young punks’ one. The ‘old farts’ will probably be a traditional radio club but the ‘young punks’ might not be so traditional encompassing ‘radio makers’ and even pirate radio activities!
  • Clubs tend to be formed around cliques of long term members and can be hard to “break” in to. Understandable given human nature but can be off-putting. This applies to tradional clubs but at least you can see friendly faces hopefully. Internet based clubs can tend to be far worse with the “knowledgeable” looking down on newcomers.
  • RSGB and clubs are the main focal points of the hobby
  • Clubs in general are a good idea, we have to go to keep up with the times.
  • Clubs are a great way to get new people into the hobby but many clubs don’t have the facilities or place to run training courses. There is some excellent online training courses for clubs to direct new memebers to study with. The club still has a role in traing often by helping out new members by answering questions that new members have. Helping with some of the parts of the hobby that isn’t covered by the exams, it can’t all be learned by the exams.
  • Some are far to cliquish with old stuck in the muds causing stagnation. I tried to contact a local club for years but kept getting ignored. thankfully found the best club in the area and havent looked back
  • It is unfortunate that Covid has stripped away a lot of face to face enjoyment and our club ran training courses which are now online with online exams.Although our club is slowly getting back to some semblance of normality,financial constraints are limiting activity and downsizing is a financial necessity
  • I’m the only member in my club under 40, most other members have at least 20 years on me. clubs/rsgb need to pre progressive and engage in ways outside of the ‘old boys club’ mentality or they’re going to die off. quickly
    Face-to-face club meetings, radio rallies etc., are a very important aspect of amateur radio and should be encouraged at every opportunity
    Clubs really need to be active in participation of the hobby and not just meeting places for the hobbie’s participants to talk usually about anything but Ham Radio.
  • Very NEGATIVE attitude from a lot of club members to use of digital voice, I’ve also had a particularly bad experience when I passed my foundation exam with a very hurtful comment from a member that has been licenced for many years ” so now you have a licence to wire a plug!” I dont go to that radio club any more.
  • I find clubs generally seem to be dominated by older men , who seem to have an element of eliteism ( I could be wrong) concerning the level of examination!
  • Local clubs suffer a high degree of apathy that has got worse since lockdown.
  • The main problem for radio clubs is that people are sometimes interested in being members but do not wish to contribute to actually run them.
  • Even though I am 72, I look at the club membership, and , in the next 10 years there will be no club to mention. I’m trying to get new members into the club.




Survey Result: 2022 “UK Tutor Survey”

Survey data comes from 29 responses in August 2022. Survey still open.

“Has your club/group run a training course so far this year?”

  • Yes (more than one): 27.59%
  • Yes (just one): 6.9%

“What sort of support does your club/group offer to newcomers who’ve just passed their entry-level exam?”

  • RSGB’s “Brickworks” scheme: 41.38%
  • Training sessions specifically for newcomers: 37.93%
  • Club activities aimed at newcomers: 48.28%
  • Online resources / help for newcomers: 17.24%
  • Mentoring / “Buddy” scheme: 37.93%
  • Standard club activities (e.g. club nights): 68.97%
  • Nothing: 6.90%

“Has your club updated its training material ready for Syllabus v1.5 (1st September)?”

  • Yes: 27.59%

“Will your club be offering courses / sessions for the “Direct to Full” exams, which are due to start in January 2023″

  • Yes, we’re planning courses: 13.79%

“How have the following areas changed since Covid: Activties put on by your club?”

  • Increased: 13.79%
  • Stayed the same: 51.72%
  • Reduced: 24.14%
  • Stopped: 0.00%
  • No answer: 10.34%

“How have the following areas changed since Covid: Attendance at club nights?”

  • Increased: 27.59%
  • Stayed the same: 20.69%
  • Reduced: 27.59%
  • Stopped: 3.45%
  • No answer: 20.69%

“How have the following areas changed since Covid: Training put on by your club?”

  • Increased: 10.34%
  • Stayed the same: 20.69%
  • Reduced: 37.93%
  • Stopped:  24.14%
  • No answer: 6.90%

“How have the following areas changed since Covid: New members joining your club?”

  • Increased: 55.17%
  • Stayed the same: 24.14%
  • Reduced: 13.79%
  • Stopped: 0.00%
  • No answer:6.90%

And finally, comments from some of the clubs that offer training:

  • RSGB need to start responding to grass root feelings. The are there for all to see on Group IO. I am now on my own for any training we would offer. I have personaly purchased 3 sets of training books out my own pocket and they are out of date. 
  • As ever, we need more younger people entering the hobby.
  • The syllabus is changing too frequently. The updated books appear far too late – they should appear with the new syllabus, not a couple of weeks before the new syllabus comes into effect.
  • Why is it so so complicated now? Can’t we just get back to basics?
  • We firmly believe that hands on practical tuition is still the best approach to furthering interest in amateur radio. we also promote electronic engineering to provide youngsters with a possible path to secuting an apprenticship in electrical engineering
    and we have had a good result with this.
  • It seems that the online exam (and free time during lockdowns) has cleared a lot of the latent demand for people wanting to get a licence. Since then we have struggled to get attendance back to pre Covid levels, depleting resources abc enthusiasm. There has been low takeup of brickworks. 2 out of 16.
  • We rely totally on the support of volunteers to maintain our hobby, support from the governing body is always appreciated if available
  • We have before Covid, offered training in Foundation and Intermediate levels which included the practical sessions. We also ran the ‘paper’ exams and, when that shifted to invigilated laptop sessions (in person, at the clubhouse), we included that. Now the remotely invigilated exams are in place it has had the effect of making us feel that as a club we no longer have a part to play. I would like to see the club returning to training right through to the Full examination in order to bring those new to the hobby more fully into the subject through discussion and through contact with those with a depth of experience in the subject.
  • Because we are in a limited area for access we try to deliver training in as flexible a way as possible to suit the needs of the applicant. We do not schedule training courses, but run them in response to requests. Most of our trainees have passed their tests, not all first time, but are coached to try again. Most people who withdraw usually do so for unrelated reasons to radio learning.
  • While club training is important independent training is also very important as youth groups can manage thisRSGB need to start


Clubs: Breaking the mould

Here’s a video from the 2017 RSGB convention, showing the then RSGB’s President’s views on clubs:


A real mixed bag of comments, with some recurring themes. 

If you have an opinion, our 2022 survey is still open: Survey still open: 2022 Survey – Otherwise, feel free to add a comment below.

One Comment

  1. Tim G5TM 1 September 2022 Reply

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