• Tristan Lockheart
    111
    In the 2014 Ringing Trends presentation linked on the Ringing 2030 page has an interesting bar graph demonstrating the decline in the number of Christians in the UK. I have produced an updated version below, with a rough trend for 2031.

    uk-christians.png?w=470
  • Lucy Chandhial
    62
    In lots of ways this still gives us around 80% of the population who would be open to bellringing as a hobby, because those with no religion are often comfortable to ring (like me). But it does reflect the decreasing church attendance and the risk from there that churches close and become apartments or similar. Although it’s also possible that the core of those identifying as Christian now are the church goers, where many people ticked Christian because they had no active religion but ‘ethnically’ associated with Christianity. So more research to do to understand our potential audience for recruitment!
  • J Martin Rushton
    101
    You are certainly right about the default being Christian in the past. I've actually seen a military form being filled in some decades ago when the conversation went:
    Officer: Religion?
    Recruit: None
    Officer: I'll put down CofE then
    Recruit: Well I was born a Methodist but I'm not any more
    Officer: OK, Methodist then.
  • Lucy Chandhial
    62
    I read the article in the Ringing World (29 Sept, page 950) about Ringing 2030 and the focus on effective recruitment to boost overall numbers of ringers.
    One of the most active threads on this forum is about older learners and reasons why we should not assume that older learners don’t want to / can’t keep progressing into method ringing.

    The article on 2030 recruitment makes the assumption that we need to recruit young ringers if we are to rebuild the overall number of ringers, demonstrating that the ageing population of existing ringers will gradually lead to a lower overall population.
    I think this misses the point that we have lots of older learners and many of them still have 30 years of ringing ahead of them when they learn.

    I hope that the recent trial survey of ringers shows that we have many ringers over 40 and over 60 who have been ringing less than five years and less than ten years so there is no obvious reason to assume that if you don’t learn under 20 (or under 40) that you won’t become a regular ringer who builds experience and rings for many years to come.
    I think we should be careful not to focus exclusively on recruiting young ringers and be careful not to leave older learners feeling unwanted, uncared for or disregarded when we look at the future of ringing for 2030 and beyond.

    Identifying how to focus our resources to recruit the ‘types of people who we think will make good and useful bellringers’ should not be about age specifically but wider considerations of commitment, enjoyment and appreciation of bellringing.
    Did the trial survey show any trends in educational subjects? Should we be asking ringers about their other hobbies / regular activities? How do we know whether someone is more likely to definitely enjoy and commit to bellringing?

    From my experience it is hard to tell until someone has been along three or four times and then becomes fairly obvious.
    If you then ‘lose’ them later it is because they are moving house, have family responsibilities, change job, etc (when hopefully they will still be ringing somewhere) or due to illness (when they can no longer ring or no longer climb the stairs). This can happen at any age and young ringers are more likely to be moving around and many ringers go through a non ringing phase when establishing a career, a family, etc.
  • John de Overa
    389
    I think this misses the point that we have lots of older learners and many of them still have 30 years of ringing ahead of them when they learn.Lucy Chandhial

    You are right, it does. I was part of the "focus group" for the Yellowyoyo / Ringing 2030 effort and I made that point and others about older ringers several times, as far as I can tell that has been ignored and my feeling is that I wasted my time participating.

    Item 2 of the CCCBR's Strategic Priorities 2020 and beyond:

    That no ringer should hit a barrier to their own progression

    is a platitude that I see no signs of ever being delivered - well, unless you start ringing under the age of 25, that is.

    I hope that the recent trial survey of ringers shows that we have many ringers over 40 and over 60 who have been ringing less than five years and less than ten years so there is no obvious reason to assume that if you don’t learn under 20 (or under 40) that you won’t become a regular ringer who builds experience and rings for many years to come.Lucy Chandhial

    I agree, there's no reason based purely on age. We have an 80 year old who is doing the "homework" to learn simple methods and seems to be really enjoying the challenge. Will they ever be ringing Surprise Major? Unlikely, but I don't think they are interested in doing that anyway and besides, that's completely missing the point - they are making progress and because of their participation, so is the entire band. We need them ringing with us. Yet the ringing "hierarchy" writes people like them off.

    I think we should be careful not to focus exclusively on recruiting young ringers and be careful not to leave older learners feeling unwanted, uncared for or disregarded when we look at the future of ringing for 2030 and beyond.Lucy Chandhial

    Yes, you are right but that paragraph accurately describes my experience of ringing, with the exception of a few beacons of light who are the only reason I'm still participating. Ringing is permeated by age based apartheid and I see no signs of that changing. Indeed the opposite, it now seems to becoming official CCCBR policy. From the outside, it appears that ringing is managed by the elite, for the elite.

    If an adult is looking for a socially-based hobby and is happy to just ring CCs & PH at their local tower then I think they'll be fine learning to ring. But if they have any aspirations to progress into method ringing, I'd strongly discourage them as it will be an incredibly difficult and frustrating process, where the expectation is that you are incapable of it and not worth supporting. The assumptions about the low potential of late starters is endemic throughout ringing and is a self-reinforcing prejudice, to the point where the exceptions are considered to be notable.

    Did the trial survey show any trends in educational subjects? Should we be asking ringers about their other hobbies / regular activities? How do we know whether someone is more likely to definitely enjoy and commit to bellringing?Lucy Chandhial

    Speaking from my own experience, I think a predictor might be anyone who has a reasonably complex hobby or hobbies that requires continual learning and that they participate in regularly. But there are many other activities where they'd be welcomed as a late starter, my advice would be to take up one of them rather than ringing.
  • John Harrison
    372
    I think 'missing the point' is not quite right, but confusing different points definitely seems to cause polarisation.
    If you are looking at demographics and long term trends then age is very important - young people will be around for longer than old people.
    But that's not the whole picture. To sustain the ringing community we need people to be ringing, not just 'around'. A 50 year old who rings for 20 years can ring more than a 15 year old who gives up after 5. So what matters is length of service, which will be determined by both the individual's match to ringing and the quality of the ringing experience offered, and that's true at any age so obhsessing about the quality of teaching, development, tower environment, organisation, etc is more important than obsessing about age.
    The other popular argument is that younger people learn better than older ones (whether you draw the line at 20, 30 or 40 varies), and it's well established that most of the best tower captains are under 40. But at the coal face we deal with individual people, not demographic averages, and it would be silly to reject or accept people because of a stereotype.
  • John de Overa
    389
    the point is that any sort of progress is a good thing, it doesn't have to be at or even lead to elite level ringing - but I think we are violently agreeing.

    Youth recruitment is important for all the reasons you give, but believing that that it's the cure for ringing's current problems is ridiculous, not least because there's no chance we'll recruit 4,000 young ringers a year (@Roger Booth's estimate). Adult recruits are going to be the majority for the foreseeable future, yet "Ringing 2030" seems to have ignored them. And as you point out, addressing "quality issues" benefits all ringers irrespective of age or length of service.

    it would be silly to reject or accept people because of a stereotype.John Harrison

    Yes, it would be. But ageism is pervasive throughout ringing and now seems to be official CCCBR policy. Not that I expect that it will actually have much impact as the CCCBR is pretty irrelevant to the grass roots. "Run by the elite, for the elite" I think sums it up.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    111


    I'm not sure how broadly the YellowYoyo report has been circulated, but here are a few quotes:

    The strategy should attract a younger cohort without alienating older, experienced ringers, and engage with relevant institutions and social media platforms. — YellowYoyo
    Craft a compelling brand story that highlights the heritage, inclusive community, health benefits, and intellectual aspects of bell ringing, appealing to both younger and older generations. This would form part of the positioning framework above. — YellowYoyo

    I agree that there is no clear strategy for specifically improving the opportunities available to older (50+) learners, but without the interest of people willing to put the time and energy into it, such a focus won't happen.

    Still not convinced that we'll be able to recruit 4,000 quality recruits per year, averaging about 80 per association (with the larger associations having to recruit more than this to compensate for smaller associations). But the longer we leave it and the more viable recruits are not recruited or not retained and developed, the bigger a problem we're left with in 2030!
  • J Martin Rushton
    101
    Harking back to the top of this thread, in 2030 (let alone 2040) will there be the churches to ring in? "Others & none" may be happy to ring, but they won't keep churches open and the residents of "All Saint's House" might not want a group of odd bods arriving at 09:30 on a Sunday to wake them up, or for that matter at 19:30 just as they are trying to get the baby down.
  • John de Overa
    389
    without alienating older, experienced ringersTristan Lockheart

    That is not referring to older learners. And that's from an an external report, the CCCBR Ringing 2030 policy document mentions "youth" or "young" ringers nine times and older ringers not at all. So as I said, it's seems clear that the official CCCBR policy is to ignore them, despite them being the majority of recruits.

    I agree that there is no clear strategy for specifically improving the opportunities available to older (50+) learners, but without the interest of people willing to put the time and energy into it, such a focus won't happen.Tristan Lockheart

    The age is way lower than 50+, it's more like 25+.

    You aren't exactly making a compelling pitch. Why would anyone put their time and energy into something that appears not to be considered worthwhile or valued?

    Whilst youth recruitment is clearly important, that must not be at the disbenefit of the majority of current ringing recruits. Even if youth recruitment is successful, it is unlikely to deliver the numbers in the timescales required to prevent the extinction of method ringing in many areas. We need to maximise the abilities of the people we have already recruited to keep method ringing alive until the next generation can pick up the reins.
  • John Harrison
    372
    Youth recruitment is important for all the reasons you give, but believing that that it's the cure for ringing's current problems is ridiculousJohn de Overa

    Is anyone saying it is the cure for all problems? As far as I can see that line comes mainly from people objecting to it.
    One of the problems we have is a gross distortion of the age profile, which has developed over several decades. It seems obvious that we need far more effective youth recruitment than we currently have if we want to restore some sort of balance.
  • John Harrison
    372
    ageism is pervasive throughout ringing and now seems to be official CCCBR policyJohn de Overa

    Is it? I don't see the evidence.
  • John de Overa
    389
    Is anyone saying it is the cure for all problems?John Harrison

    Where in the 2030 policy does it mention addressing the needs of mature ringers?

    It seems obvious that we need far more effective youth recruitment than we currently haveJohn Harrison

    Yes, I've said that several times. But it needs not to be at the detriment of adequate support for the majority of learners.

    I don't see the evidence.John Harrison

    Perhaps you are fortunate to ring in an area where it isn't an issue. But that's certainly not the case elsewhere.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    111
    You aren't exactly making a compelling pitch. Why would anyone put their time and energy into something that appears not to be considered worthwhile or valued?John de Overa
    When people are working on a voluntary basis and have a lot to be getting on with already, you have to bid for their attention, and perhaps include a contribution of your own time as part of the bargain. Young ringers are a bit more of an exciting and mainstream project than improving the environment for older learners, so it's not entirely surprising that more people are developing initiatives for the former than the latter. It's not a great pitch but I don't think there's any point sugar-coating the issue!
    as far as I can tell that has been ignored and my feeling is that I wasted my time participating.John de Overa
    This is what my quotes from the report are in response to. It has made its way into the branding report, and the point has been raised at several subsequent meetings too. That is not to say that more lobbying wouldn't be valuable to raise the issue's profile amongst the CC's volunteers, particularly the new Executive.
  • John Harrison
    372
    Perhaps you are fortunate to ring in an area where it isn't an issue. But that's certainly not the case elsewhereJohn de Overa

    We certainly have issues in this area but I'm not aware of ageism being one of them.
  • John de Overa
    389
    We certainly have issues in this area but I'm not aware of ageism being one of them.John Harrison

    Good for you.
  • Barbara Le Gallez
    73
    Dear All,
    Tristan Lockhart mentioned the Yellow Yoyo report. Please could it be made generally available, urgently?
    The reason I ask is that our tower has a massive recruitment opportunity, with a new town being built on our doorstep. But we need to know how to run our sales pitch, and for that it would be a big help to see the Yellow Yoyo report.
    To tie in with the ageism concept, I confess that we will be looking particularly for young adults (by which I mean 20-40). The reason being above all that they will still be active ringers in 20 years' time. Whereas most of the current band (including me) won't!
    Just observing - unless you are yourself an older learner, you probably won't notice ageism even if it does exist. Not because you are rude or prejudiced yourself - just because it is hard to notice any sort of prejudice unless you happen to be the target of it.
    Best wishes & Happy Ringing!
    Barbara
  • Tristan Lockheart
    111
    Tristan Lockhart mentioned the Yellow Yoyo report. Please could it be made generally available, urgently?
    The reason I ask is that our tower has a massive recruitment opportunity, with a new town being built on our doorstep. But we need to know how to run our sales pitch, and for that it would be a big help to see the Yellow Yoyo report.
    Barbara Le Gallez
    I would recommend getting in touch with Allison Devine who is the public relations officer () and can point you in the the right direction. There is a report and a PowerPoint; both are fairly long and may not be entirely relevant throughout for local situations, but nonetheless would be most useful. I understand that there are plans for wider circulation.
  • Barbara Le Gallez
    73
    Thank you so much Tristan, I have done as you advise.
    Best wishes, Barbara
  • Alison Hodge
    150
    Yes, I agree, that we are wanting to promote Ringing 2030 and need some clear and succinct information to share. I too have been asked for a simple summary and can't find anything to offer other than various items such as the YYY report, powerpoint, information in the CCCBR AGM papers and the recording of Simon's AGM weekend discussion (which, sadly is not very clear). I know that all these exist and where to find them; 99.9% of ringers would not be able to do so.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    111
    Greater information both on the Central Council website and in the Ringing World will be arriving shortly from what I understand.
  • Simon Linford
    305
    It's coming. We have a second article in this coming Ringing World and then probably one more and then we'll have more stuff published. The most important stuff is what we commissioned two days ago which is starting the creative process, which we will get to review in a couple of month's time.

    A key part of that discussion with yyy is how we want to start using new designs and messages and we said the priority was having outward facing stuff that ringers could start to use for recruiting in the first half of next year. I remembered what you had said about wanting to use it, and having a few campaigns which would test stuff out will be really useful.

    So we were talking about the outward facing recruitment website (a bit like what is on bellringing.org), an adaptable powerpoint presentation, banners, posters, leaflets, etc. We will be asking what the most useful things are likely to be so we can prioritise them.
  • Barbara Le Gallez
    73
    Thank you. The Beach Bellringers (i.e. the band at All Saints' Landbeach) would be very pleased to be a test site for this. Let us know how we can help you / you can help us.
  • Tristan Lockheart
    111
    Harking back to the top of this thread, in 2030 (let alone 2040) will there be the churches to ring in? "Others & none" may be happy to ring, but they won't keep churches open and the residents of "All Saint's House" might not want a group of odd bods arriving at 09:30 on a Sunday to wake them up, or for that matter at 19:30 just as they are trying to get the baby down.J Martin Rushton

    And that is another unfortunate issue. Strategically, we are fighting a war on two fronts. A scenario where the part of the Church of England which has bells and is supportive of bells is in decline. Perhaps it won’t be noticeable now, but within twenty to thirty years it may present us with serious issues. Two of the three churches in Wigan with change ringing bells are under threat of closure by the Diocese of Liverpool as funding issues and falling congregation issues really bite. The third and last also has a questionable future. It is very possible that Wigan could be without change ringing within five years or a decade. The parts of the CofE which are doing better (evangelical, charismatic – think HTB) are generally neutral or anti-ringing.

    I don’t think other areas will necessarily face the mismanaged mess in Wigan, but we could well see structural issues with towers which prevent ringing not being dealt with due to lack of funds. Maybe we’ll be expected to pay for our electricity usage? I know that this is already done in some areas.
    As for how ringing can overcome this challenge, we are faced with two options. Make ourselves valuable to the church community, or cough up to look after existing CofE towers/fund new secular rings where we are an influential tenant rather than last in the queue.
  • John de Overa
    389
    It is very possible that Wigan could be without change ringing within five years or a decade.Tristan Lockheart

    It's already happened in some areas:

    http://www.tamesidehistoryforum.org.uk/bellringing.htm

    That page was authored in 2020. For the 3 out of 10 towers that were listed as still ringing then, only 1 is a method ringing tower and the numbers of ringers at 2 of the 3 are down by 30-50%.
  • John Harrison
    372
    is that comparing like for like? Tristan was talking about towers becoming unavailable for ringing because the church authorities either didn't want it or couldn't support it. From your previous comments I got the Themeside problems were down to failings of the ringing community rather than lack of available towers.
  • John de Overa
    389
    it's both rather than one or the other - without ringers, towers don't get maintained and fairly quickly become unringable. Several of the towers in Tameside are unringable and the ones which are technically ringable but that don't have a band need inspecting and work before they can be rung. The diminishing number of ringers in the area can't justify that effort for 1 or 2 ringing sessions a year.
  • Robin Shipp
    19
    Several of these comments illustrate the interlinked nature of the problem. If the bells are in bad condition it is difficult to teach learners; if the ringing room is damp and grubby, with fly-blown out-of-date notices, then people won't be inspired to take up ringing as a hobby; ditto if the ringers are set in their ways and not welcoming of newcomers, and so on.
    All the ways of dealing with this seem to pick on specific elements. That's fine, but are people looking at the connections between these elements?
  • Lucy Chandhial
    62
    I think the hard thing is that the one main connection, making the difference between a well loved and well used tower with a happy band and the tower left to gradually disintegrate is one or two willing volunteers with decent communication skills and a desire to run a good tower. Finding these people, supporting them and developing the next volunteers isn’t easy but is the key. I think the importance of the leadership is recognised as a challenge for Ringing 2030 but the grass roots volunteer set up doesn’t make it easy to ignite change everywhere and local experiences will continue to vary hugely.
  • Simon Linford
    305
    Now that I am not president of the central council I can say things which I might not have been able to say before in case they were viewed as in some way being official policy!

    I have thought for a long time, that in order to keep ringing going it will need to be done in fewer places, but those places need to be conducive to wanting to learn and ring. The point Robin Shipp makes:

    f the ringing room is damp and grubby, with fly-blown out-of-date notices, then people won't be inspired to take up ringing as a hobby; ditto if the ringers are set in their ways and not welcoming of newcomers, and so on.Robin Shipp

    That is why in the CC's new three pillars strategy there is a lot of emphasis on making sure environments are good. If we sell ringing as something great to do and the recruit turns up to their first lesson at the sort of place described by Robin, we will quickly extinguish that enthusiasm. That might mean focusing resources on places that are going to succeed at the expense of others.

    That sounds harsh of course, and some will feel we must never give up on a tower, but we need to be realistic. I bet there's £10m of bell metal in towers in the UK that is probably never going to ring again - wouldn't it be amazing if we could somehow spend that on the towers that could thrive!

    I had a conversation a few years ago with the Chief executive of the Churches Conservation Trust about one particular heavy ring of bells that doesn't get rung much, and I asked him whether he would rather have the scrap value of those bells so that he could spend that money on other towers in his portfolio where he could attract more bellringers and hence visitors to those churches, which is what the CCT is all about. He said it was a no brainer - he'd take the money. Of course there are complex heritage considerations but it was the principle I was establishing - that they would quite happily sacrifice something that was not meeting their needs for something that was.
  • Peter Sotheran
    117
    " I asked him whether he would rather have the scrap value of those bells so that he could spend that money on other towers " Simon Linford

    As he says it must be a no brainer. If you inherited a rather fine grand piano but no one in your family played and it stood in the corner untouched bar the occasional dusting, what would you do? Keep it 'because granny always loved it' or sell it on to someone who can make good use of it?
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