Tops Tips for Survival and Recovery – some ideas to help us through winter
- Stay positive – we will return to ringing at some point. The exercise has survived much longer periods of inactivity without all the fantastic resources that have been developed during this pandemic.
- Stay safe – always follow social distancing requirements and the coronavirus restrictions in your local area.
- Keep in touch – try as many different ways as possible. Not everyone enjoys virtual ringing, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t as keen to return.
- Keep ringing when you are able to – the sound of bells has been missed in our cities, towns and villages. Use every opportunity to promote ringing to your local community.
- Plan ahead – think about what you can do differently when we return to ringing to help sustain ringing for the future.
- Be bold – if nothing is happening in your tower, then what not organise something yourself.
1. Keeping in touch
- Run virtual pub sessions or coffee mornings using on line video conferencing platforms.
- Keep in touch with ringers with regular phone calls.
- Meet up as small group where restrictions allow. Go for a walk or have a catch up over a hot drink following social distancing requirements.
- Run social events. How about a virtual Carol Service or a Bake Off challenge?
- Keep in touch with other towers, encourage ringers to take part in Association / Branch events.
- Have regular meetings with clergy and church wardens. Agree how and when bells can be rung for services and community events.
- Keep in touch with your local community via newsletters, websites and social media. Let the community know why bells are silent or why ringing might sound different.
2. A tower approach
- Use the skills of all your ringers, this is not just down to one person. Involve the whole of the band and use the skills and strengths of everyone. Do you have a social media expert, someone to check on the bells, or someone who likes to arrange social events?
3. Keeping Ringing
- Ring for every possible occasion, when ringing is within the areas’ guidelines – services and other occasions. Let the local community know what you are ringing for.
- Draw up a rota and give everyone an opportunity to take a turn even if this means ringing fewer bells. Allow less experienced ringers to chime a bell.
- Organise a virtual practice or form a hub practice with other towers.
- Organise a handbell practice.
- What are you aspirations and values of your band? Do you know how many of your band may not return to the exercise?
- Are you planning to recruit? Do you have the capacity, skills and experience to teach new ringers? How about working with other neighbouring towers, or targeting lapsed ringers.
Return to Ringing
- How are you going to support less experienced ringers when we return to ‘normal’ ringing? Find ways of helping people return to ringing – e.g. offer one on one silent practice for less experienced ringers.
- Reach out to others to share ideas for returning to ringing – what else is happening in your area? Get in contact with your Guild / Branch / Association to find out what’s happening. If nothing is happening then set something up.
Developing your band
- Look out for and take advantage of training opportunities for new steeple keepers, tower captains etc.
- What new ways are there to keep your band motivated? How about organising joint practices with neighbouring towers.
Here are these ideas in a more graphical format
ART Survival & Recovery Strategy – Newletter No. 2.
ART have produced another edition of their Survival & Recovery Strategy document that members may find useful
Art – Tower Talk No. 18Tower-Talk-18
ART Survival & Recovery Strategy – Newletter No. 1.
ART have produced a Survival & Recovery Strategy document that members may find useful
BellBoard Virtual Hub
The BellBoard Virtual Hub is designed to be a central place for you to find information about virtual ringing-related events.
You can find it linked from the BellBoard side menu, or by clicking HERE
Helping Bands to Return to Ringing
When we are able to start ringing in a meaningful way again, band/ringers may find that they need a bit of help to regain and/or develop their confidence with ringing and method ringing.
The Guild has had a Brokerage Scheme for some time that has not been well used. Perhaps this is something that you may consider using as Ringing Returns? The Guild has always been willing to help ringers develop their skills. Why not take advantage of this scheme when you are able to start practicing again?
Another thing that you might consider is “clusters”. This is when a group of nearby towers work together to gain experience with their ringing. This can be done without regard to District Boundaries, or even Guild Boudaries. The idea is that progress will be quicker when a learner has more experience ringers around them. This does not have to be at an advanced stage. If you hace recently mastered Plain Bob Doubles, for instance, you may be the ideal person to help someone to gain experience in this method. You are aware of the difficulties and the things that are a great help, as you have experienced them recently. Give it a go!!
Ringing Returns: A New Beginning.
With the news a vaccine could be available to combat Covid-19, there is a real enthusiasm for life to ‘get back to normal’. What the new normal will look like remains to be seen, but it is a real boost to our sagging spirits to think we might soon be able to meet up with old friends and start ringing again.
After a minimum of a nine-month layoff from ringing, it will take time and effort to get things moving again. The Central Council and ART are formulating ideas and plans to help and I have been privileged to hear of some of their work which I would like to share with you. There is a recognition that what works in an inner-city church may be different to what works in a small Warwickshire village, but hopefully something will suit individual needs.
Here are some ideas:
Tower Captains to remain in touch, or make new contact with their local ringers. Many towers have been having zoom meetings throughout the lockdown, but not everyone attends and some TC’s are nervous about the technology. ART have produced a Youtube video to offer help and guidance.
Ringing Room has proved very popular and some towers are making great progress. Some started off using it and have dropped off. Also, some have been nervous about using it and again ART have produced a Youtube video instructing people how to use it.
Focus on social events, on line and by phone. Quizzes proved very popular at the start of lockdown, but many feel they have exhausted their range of impossible questions. Staying in touch is very important, so maybe the quizzes could be replaced by virtual pubs or coffee mornings, when people can chat informally for 30 minutes or so. Having a topic in mind is often helpful, and talking about the old days can prove popular.
Getting in touch with lapsed ringers. As teaching may prove difficult to start with, when we get back into towers, encouraging lapsed ringers to come back might suit them as well as the local tower. There are so many reasons why people stop ringing, but a call from an old friend might be just the fillip they need to restart. If you are conscious, they may have stopped ringing for ‘political reasons’, perhaps this is where the Guild can help. If you could pass their name to me, we can see if help can be provided from another source to rekindle their enthusiasm.
A Covid hub is being established on the Guild website. This will contain all the details people might need to give them confidence to get back to ringing. This will also include all the latest information from the CC regarding health and safety and indeed any instructions from the Church Recovery Group.
Not having rung for so many months, many of us will be experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Stiff backs, sore shoulders and fitness climbing the belfry stairs, spring to mind. Exercises, designed by Lucy Gwynne, a physiotherapist, are available to help and we are looking at the possibility of videos too. You will find copies of the exercises on the Guild Covid Hub.
Finally, the importance of making people feel welcome is so important. The long layoff means some people will have fallen back in love with their garden or other hobbies. The friendship and comradery from ringers are so important and might just help in getting them back into towers for ringing.
That is probably enough for now. Ideas are being formulated about webinars, the role Bellboard could play in advertising virtual events and online and text teaching courses.
I would be delighted to hear from you regarding the ideas.
Guild General Secretary
Exercises to Maintain our Ringing Muscles.
Designed by Lucy Gwynne
Firstly, what exercise do we gain from ringing? We know ringing is not going to keep us super fit, it is gentle physical exercise overwise all ringers would look like athletes. What form of exercise is ringing and how can we help ourselves, so when the day comes and we can return to our ropes we are not too stiff and feeble to do so?
To me these are the things that ringing gives us
- Balance -uneven paths, floors, hazards, stairs
- Lower limb strength – climbing stairs, checking bells, climbing ladders, crouching under bells etc.
- Shoulder flexibility – up and down 5000 times plus
Here are a couple of suggestions for each: All exercises can be done standing up or sitting (any exercise that involves clearing a space and getting onto the floor are usually not done.)
- Stand feet together
- Stand in tandem – heel of left foot in front of the toe of the right foot -then the other way round.
- Progression 1-– do this with arms raised in front
- Progression 2 – do this with eyes closed
- Progression 3 -do this with arms in front and eyes closed
Lower Limb Strength
- Sit to stand from a dining room chair (or similar height and firmness) Complete as many as you can in 20 seconds
- Progression 1 – aim to beat your score
- Progression 2 – increase time by increments of 10 sec until up to one minute.
- When you walk through a door (provided you are not carrying anything) reach up to touch the door frame above your head and take another step so your arms are stretched,
- Stand with your back against a wall, feet about 3-4 inches in front of the wall arms out to the side with bent elbows. Keep your arms as close to the wall as you can and raise them up so they are above your head
- Progression – do this 5040 times (only joking!)
NB There is no substitute for the real thing so be prepared to have some aches once we are able to return.
Ideas and Resources for Virtual Ringing/Social Activities
- The ART website has drawn together a really good library of resources and ideas which are accessible even if you are not a member. The September edition of Tower Talk also has some good ideas.
- Ringing World articles – many of these are from ART but, if you don’t want to visit the ART website, here are a few:-
- Ringing Room – Tips & Users Guide
- Successful Planning for Recruitment and Retention – five articles about getting potential new recruits through the virtual tower door and keeping them
- Virtual striking competition (RW 25th Sept p949)
- Other ideas:-
Most towers have probably now discovered zoom (or an equivalent – Microsoft Teams) for ‘social’ gatherings (including coffee, quizzes and pub sessions) to keep your tower members in touch but I wonder if you have thought about using it for one of the following:-
- A talk by a guest speaker (it doesn’t have to be about ringing – you might find that a member of your local tower/District/Guild has another passion or skill other than ringing!)
- A training session (both theory and practical sessions are possible with a bit of planning)
- A training day (or even a weekend/week) – see G&B Summer School
- A virtual tower outing (even including a trip to a brewery) – see Virtual Ringers Spring Tour
- YouTube resources
- Other reources