Events and recruitment drives have a much greater chance of success if there is a basic awareness of ringing and ringers in both the community and church. If ringing is recognised as one of the regular normal activities in the locality, it’ll already be in people’s consciousness when you come to recruit.
If your team enjoy social activities together outside of ringing, a bell ringers’ quiz team, or local events where people can meet and socialise with the ringers is a great way of becoming an established, familiar presence – they’ll know who you are and that you are easy to approach.
Perhaps the bell team would like to support events run and organised by other community groups – joining in with things which are important to others will generate goodwill and mean they are likely to support your events in return. For example, if the bell team turn up en-masse to the WI Barn Dance, some of their members might well be happy to serve cream teas at your open tower event.
How about donating some sponsored ringing as a raffle prize for a local charity, or open the tower on New Years’ Eve so that members of the public can come in and watch you ringing in the New Year? Publicise this beforehand and you may be surprised at the amount of support and good will from people who might not normally consider visiting the Church.
If you’re ringing for important local events (e.g. local fete, flower show, steam rally or even the Golden Wedding anniversary of a well loved local couple) alert people as to why you are ringing. Use posters, newsletters and social media to do this. Let the residents know that bells are rung in celebration for the whole community and for local people as well as for Church or national occasions.
Although many ringers are churchgoers, there are plenty who ring at practices and on Sundays but do not stay to services. This doesn’t stop the bell team from supporting the Church in other ways though – attending events, helping with mowing the churchyard, stewarding at the flower festival or joining in with a benefice lunch will all be appreciated (in addition to your ongoing ringing commitments of course).
Invite your PCC and Clergy up to the tower to meet everyone and watch the ringing; some of them may have never even seen the bells.
There are many ways to achieve this; and social media plays an important part:
Many local interest groups such as the WI, Rotary Club, Young Farmers, History Society, U3A or Townswomens' Guild have a regular series of talks at their meetings and are always delighted to hear from someone new.
How about offering to go along and talk about bell ringing? You could dig out bits of ringing paraphernalia to take along with you. What seem like worn out old bell muffles or ropes to us might be a source of fascination to someone who has never seen them before. Don’t forget to invite them along to the tower at any time if they’d like to come and see the bells up close or have a go. Even if many of those attending don’t take up ringing, they’ll be better informed about what’s involved and it’s all good publicity.
We've gathered together some tips and ideas about giving talks including presentations you can modify.
Here are two really good partnerships that were sent to us recently.
The local band which has partnered with the local Mountain Rescue team, who helped organise a teddy bear zip-wire down the church with all the proceeds going to the local tower fund. Both groups got publicity and could cross-appeal to each other's supporter bases.
Commercial companies are another way of raising awareness. The same band approached the local
microbrewery who have agreed to do a "special brew" for them. The band is now
thinking of running a competition to name the beer, design the pump clips etc.
Don’t be shy about letting the community know when you’ve achieved something to feel proud of. If one of your team has just become an accredited ringing teacher or passed their Learning the Ropes Level 5, or conducted their first quarter peal, announce this on social media, but also consider writing a few paragraphs for your local newsletter or paper. You could write a simple article (intended for non ringers) about ringing and why this achievement is significant. End with a sentence or two about how to contact you if people would like to learn more. Local radio coverage is also ideal for ringing as they will probably be delighted to record your bells and interview you. If this happens, be prepared for the kind of questions the presenter might ask, such as ‘if the lightest bell is called the Treble, why isn’t the heaviest called the Bass?’
The media page of the Central Council website gives some excellent advice.
Recruitment always works best when there is good local awareness of ringing, so the more positive and enthusiastic your communications are, the better. People are more likely to respond to upbeat, optimistic recruitment messages than negative pleas for help because ringing is dying out – nobody wants to take up a new activity that is portrayed as on its last legs.
Remember, terms and jargon that us ringers use routinely can seem like an utterly foreign language to non ringers. If you write about the weight of your bells, describe them in kilos or stones or make an analogy. Most people don’t tend to understand what 11 cwt means, but they can appreciate that a bell weighing 88 stone is pretty heavy.
If your ongoing recruitment message is "we are desperate for people to come and keep the bells ringing on Sundays", don’t be entirely surprised if some dutiful volunteers turn up, but that’s all they want to do … they may be quite willing to ring rounds on Sundays, but not be at all keen to get into change ringing.
Find out more about your key stakeholders in the church and community, how to engage with them, and why they are important.
» Return to the recruitment and retention home page» Return to read more about recruitment success or go to the next part of the ten point plan - what do you want to achieve?