Create an environment that people want to come back to. Try and see yourselves as others might see you. Everyone seems to know each other and talk a very strange language. For new recruits who don’t yet speak fluent bell ringer, this can be quite mysterious!
Perhaps over several decades, Church Wardens have used the ringing chamber to store all kinds of paraphernalia that has accumulated and been forgotten about. You might have a potentially lethal electrical heater that smells funny or a migraine-inducing 1960’s carpet. Or perhaps the bell team’s box of shabby Christmas decorations are wedged under a clock case next to a pile of broken bell muffles. In the worst case scenario, even your tin of chocolates are stale!
After a while we no longer notice how shabby and old-fashioned our ringing chambers are. But someone new will notice. What message exactly does having a funeral bier stored in the ringing chamber give? It's true, we have the picture.
So, if your tower is dingy and dirty, it doesn’t create a welcoming impression for a new ringer, so try to remember that cleaning is not just for Holy Week and a modern, well lit environment with contemporary photographs and news on the noticeboard is much more encouraging.
Even going up uneven spiral staircase can really freak people out! New recruits who are very thoughtful and sensible can be spooked no end just by the staircase!
And ringing itself. It is reasonable to wonder: "Is the bell you’re asking me to pull going to come crashing through the ceiling if I pull too hard?" Stand back and remember how much we take for granted.
On this subject, it is important to have a good relationship with the church when it comes to the ringing chamber as they may not immediately appreciate that it is a place where people are going to be feeling vulnerable and out of their comfort zones. And what is out of sight, might be to them out of mind. So if you don't have proper lighting, emergency lights, adequate power sockets, repaired windows and safe electrical heaters, it is incumbent on you to explain why they are needed when asking to get faculties or money.
A risk assessment is a really good way of getting everyone on the same wavelength about the importance of the ringing chamber and the need for safety. After all, safety and feeling secure are very important prerequisites for good learning.
Can you spot your vacuum cleaner?
Ringing chamber or storage cupboard?
A comfortable seat
Do we comment on the new kitchen and toilet or the status of the ringers?
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