The following is an article which appeared in an earlier edition of the Lewisham District Newsletter, written by then editor Jeremy Byers, on how to recruit ringers. Everything he says is pure common sense, and should be obvious to anyone. Or am I being too naïve?
If it were that easy and I had the formula I would bottle and sell it!
This is one of the many areas that the current millennium committee [of the Lewisham District] is trying to help with but as usual there isn’t an easy answer — if there was we wouldn’t have a problem. This article is an attempt to give you some ideas that might help.
Looking at the world today one thing we notice is that everyone is very busy. As such when we are looking to recruit new ringers we have to appreciate that we are going into a market place where we are going to be competing with hundreds of activities all looking to utilise people’s precious leisure time.
In order to stand a chance of attracting new ringers we have to make people aware that
- ringing exists
- it is fun and enjoyable
Making people aware that ringing exists and that new ringers are welcome is probably the first stage. There is a need to break down the general perception that “bells ring themselves” or that it is all mechanical. The average person’s understanding and perception of ringing stops at the church door — it doesn’t even get as far as the tower door.
So how do you get over this hurdle?
The Millennium and all the press and television articles have no doubt helped on a national scale. However you still need to follow this up at a local level. Articles in church magazines, the local press, tower open days and the like are all good ways forward. Remember, don’t stop at one article and wait for the rush — keep putting articles in magazines — if people start seeing that you are an active group then they may become more interested.
Also what’s your advertising like in the church? If you are anything like Beckenham, you might just find a faded KCACR notice advertising ringing times — if you can read it I bet it isn’t up to date. With all the home PC technology there must be someone around who can knock up some bold notices to get welcome visitors into the tower. If you are hoping to recruit from the church congregation you have got to make them realise they are welcome — before they take their life in their hands and start climbing that spiral staircase.
It’s so simple isn’t it — not at all. I realise that this sort of effort is hard graft. Often with no apparent reward and you can easily start with good intentions and within two or three months have given up. Try it — if you get depressed about the response try talking to other towers in the District, see if they have come up with any cunning plans to recruit ringers.
Making it fun and enjoyable
Having got new recruits try to keep it fun and enjoyable. We all know that learning to ring is very difficult and at times soul destroying. You turn up to practice for weeks and weeks, get ten minutes on the end of a rope if you are lucky and seem to end up going backwards — result one ex-recruit who disappears very quickly.
The first and most important point is to get your new recruit’s address and contact phone number. This means that you can phone them and keep up the contact — surprising what a difference feeling that you are wanted makes!
After that it is just a question of trying to use all the means available to encourage your new recruits. At Beckenham the use of One Per Learner has been the mainstay for several years yet it is only lately that we have used the Bell Club award packs. The use of individual progress charts have been useful at times when our learners have been looking fed up — it’s surprising when you break handling down into stages how much they do progress.
In an attempt to help as much as possible I am going to try to put together some ideas and some sources for information and other information that towers might find useful. If you would like one (when I’ve written it) or have anything that you think could usefully included in it please let me know. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.