Discussion Forum March 2015
1.What have towers in your branch done to attract ringers, and what has worked?
Open days; particularly attractive if people can go up to roof for view. Follow-up important.
- Opened towers to visitors to coincide with civic events: good interest, but only one recruit.
- Adverts in church, church notices, parish/village magazine articles; tower's own website.
- Good relations with people in parish office who eagerly publicize need for new ringers.
- Leafleting homes in parish. Success partly down to New Year timing: people seeking fresh start.
- Publicity for retuning and rehanging of tower's bells.
- Church events: coffee morning, ringing before garden party, tower open to visitors during fete.
- Talks to schools/groups; Scout group visits; Duke of Edinburgh awards (but retention a problem).
- Specific appeals to lapsed ringers.
- Adults come forward, often attracted by friends who ring and social aspect (including pub after).
- Publicity exercises - newsletters, leaflet drops, posters on noticeboards/lampposts, local papers/radio, incl. nearby villages with no bells – prior to introductory prog with short talk on what
ringing is about, demo & tour of belfry, followed by have-a-go session with trained teacher.
- Use of "Learning the Ropes" scheme of one-to-one sessions with a teacher who will take them to
Level 1 (basic handling) stage, after which they are able to take part in practices.
- Demo of how bells work useful in early stages to combat fear factor; band tries to get beginners
up to see the bells, and has a hand-held demo model.
- Making recruits part of band from Day 1 with rounds at backstroke with others; encouraging
people to feel valued, trained and encouraged.
- Taster session on practice night, followed up with further training. This tower had the help of
two experienced ringers and now has two new Sunday service ringers.
- Sufficient trainers in both capability and number.
- Ensuring quick progression to plain hunt – young recruits bore quickly, older ones can find it harder to learn.
- Second beginners' practice during week as well as before main practice aids speed of progress.
- Ask young ringers (10-12) to bring friends; older youngsters to bring parents. One mum came
with her teenage children; they gave up but mum learnt and became long-term tower member.
- Provide a happy, relaxed, social environment where ringers can progress at their own pace, with
no pressure on, or criticism of, individuals who are slow, or fail, to grasp new methods.
- Be prepared for disruption: more complicated ringing might take a back seat for a while.
2) People don't always stay – what have your towers found are the main reasons given for leaving?
- Children often keen as long as their peers are (but can leave because of teasing from non-ringing
peers – ringing not seen as “cool” in this age group); pressures of schoolwork often intervene, or
they go off to university and leave the exercise.
- “Life cycle events”: Youngsters grow up and move away (older people do stay but may progress
slowly if they are new ringers); Older ringers become too infirm to handle a bell safely; Demands
on time such as work schedules, having a baby/other family commitments, other interests.
- Personality clashes within a tower, or wider church politics.
- Beginners' deciding ringing is not for them/failing to progress. This has also happened with some
who were regular service ringers for some years but felt they had stagnated. Frustration or a
feeling of being in the way leads to learners giving up.
- It is a much slower process to become “competent” than many expect.
- Beginners can be scared off if they are worried about breaking the stay and causing damage.
Showing them around the bells helps with this.
- Reluctance to make regular commitment to practice/inability to do so because of unpredictable
working patterns (but this becomes less of an issue once they are meshed into the band).