The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has put together a proposal for a regional focus on ringing which is hoped will help Guilds and Associations across the world with the recruitment and retention of ringers.
Time is short as this is going to be a discussed at the next Central Council Meeting on 25 May 2015 and Pip Penney (Association CC Rep) will be in attendance to represent us; it is important the the views of members of our Association are known and communicated at that meeting.
Please would Association Members read the email below and the attached paper and then if you have any comments then please either:
If you use Option 2 then your comments will be available for view and discussion (there is an automatic 2-Way link between articles and the Forums). I will collate any comments and send them to Pip, possibly as a collective "Association Response" if the number of comments merits our doing this.
Pip has been asked to go to the CC Meeting prepared to the share ideas and thoughts of those in our Association/region, and specifically to gather some headline information on:
Branch and Association strengths and success stories others could learn from e.g. recruitment initiatives, training events;
Activities currently taking place across local geographical boundaries - success stories e.g. striking contests, recruitment campaigns;
Branch and Assocation key desires and needs in terms of recruitment and training e.g. shortage of conducting skill, lack of young ringers
Possible ways we could consider to work together with others e.g. youth events, intense courses.
Please don't be shy about sharing your thoughts and ideas about these matters. And please do so quickly!
I have had permission to post the following from the Coity Ringers.
From Coity Ringers:
I am writing on behalf of the bell ringers of St Mary the Virgin, Coity, to share our response to the CCCBR Admin Committee's paper 'Change Ringing for the Future'.
We discussed the paper at our weekly practice this evening, and would like to comment as follows:
Key Action 1: Going Regional
This is a very English-centred proposal. Region 8 (in effect, everywhere that isn't England) would be unworkable. The proposed rationale for forming a regional structure (facilitating funding bids, shared recruitment & training initiatives, shared funding) could not apply to Region 8, and new ways of communicating (Skype, phone conferences, social media) would be severely hampered by the range of time zones it covers. We cannot see any benefits in putting our Association into Region 8.
Key Action 2: New format for CCCBR meeting
We endorse this proposal, but we query whether the CCCBR can be effective with so many members, however its meetings are structured.
Key Action 3: New website
This proposal and proposal 6 make us wonder what the target age is for new ringers. We suspect the Report's writers are thinking of a fairly young age group, but would suggest that two other fertile markets might be "empty nesters" and the newly-retired. Whether or not a website would be the best way of attracting them would need to be investigated.
Having said that, we think that a revamped website would be a good idea. It would have to be of high quality, and would probably need on-going management from professional web masters. The challenge of keeping up-to-date contact information for every tower should not be underestimated, and there is a danger that a speedy on-line response would not be translated into a speedy response from a local tower.
We have some website experience within our band, and think that the proposed budget is too low for a really high-quality site with the suggested features.
Key Action 4: New survey toolkit
All of our comments about Region 8 apply to this proposal. Additionally, on-line surveys only work for the computer literate. It is not clear how the paper survey would be distributed. Collating and analyzing the results will be a significant piece of work, and it is interesting that there are no costings for this. We also wondered what topics/questions would be included in the survey, and whether it would be possible to include some tailored for a given region.
Key Action 5: Leadership training modules
It is not clear who is considered a leader. Is it Tower Captains? Ringing Masters? Key Peal Organizers? How would the training modules be delivered? Would there be a degree of compulsion on "leaders" to undertake the training? We are also not entirely convinced that 'inspiring' leadership can be taught. What if someone fails? Would they be barred from leadership?
Key Action 6: New Learner Initiative and New Learner Pack
Again, this seems to be aimed at a particular demographic. And we thought it slightly strange that, having introduced the idea of a new website in Key Action 3, the proposed pack is in hard copy. Would it not be better to develop dedicated web pages for learners, or even an app?
The suggestion that new ringers should be given a free trial (or trial period) bemused us. We were not aware that anyone charged people to learn to ring.
We think the budget for creating the packs is too low. There will also be some cost attached to issuing updated pages, particularly if Associations/towers/ringing centres wish to maintain a stock of packs.
Key Action 7: Partnership with ART
We endorse this, although we are slightly surprised that it had to be listed as a Key Action. The penultimate line of this section ("to mirror the regional boundaries its funding is dictating") presumably explains how the 7 English regions were arrived at.
We have already commented on the website and learner pack funding. The Regional support budget is interesting only in that it apparently assumes the costs for Region 8 are the same as for each of the other Regions, and that meetings will be held in the UK (as the costs are expressed in sterling).
The majority of these will apply only partially (if at all) to Region 8. There is a real danger that ringing in areas outside England will suffer as a result, because the CCCBR will assume that by creating and supporting Regions it has done all that is necessary to safeguard change ringing for the future.
We are concerned that these proposals would result in a high level of standardization across the Exercise and would deter people from continuing the wealth of localized initiatives and actions tailored to their particular circumstances.
It is not clear to us how the seven Key Actions were identified. The opening summary refers to things that are "working really well" in Birmingham and Taunton, but there is no further reference to them in the Key Actions. Are these the actions that have been so successful, or are they entirely new ideas?
These proposals also raise some concerns about the impact on the many dedicated Tower Captains, Ringing Masters and band members who do not cope well with "modern" technology. Will they still feel valued? Is there an underlying message that ringing is only for the young and the technology-savvy? We are concerned that creating an expectation that every tower will embrace all of these proposals could drive some faithful members away.
We hope this response is helpful.
with best wishes
Secretary of the Bell Ringers,
St Mary the Virgin, Coity