• Simon Linford
    I am wondering more and more about the opportunity presented by lapsed ringers. I had speculated that there are maybe six times as many lapsed ringers as ringers, but the more I discuss it with people who in turn think about the people they have taught over the years, the more I think it is much more than that. I had a meeting recently with about 20 other people connected with churches (DAC related I think) and about half the people on the call had rung at some point in their lives! I bet there are 10 times as many lapsed as ringing.

    What could get them back? They all gave up for some reason. I cite an example of someone I know who was a very able ringer as a teenager, who lapsed when he started work and had a family. When he had a bit more time he went to his local tower a few times but his attendance was sporadic, and rather than being welcomed on the times he went, he was criticsed for not giving more commitment. He decided it was easier not to ring at all so he has given up again.

    I think there needs to be some way in which the 'social contract' of ringing needs to change so we can be flexible about band membership and commitment. I would be happy if I could recruit from lapsed ringers for special practices or quarters, even if they could not come every Sunday morning. The danger is though that that then becomes a preferred option for everyone!!
  • A J Barnfield
    I think that the number of lapsed ringers is utterly huge. The vast majority of those that learn seem to give up eventually. Perhaps the more interesting question is why some of us carry on for so long. There are anecdotes of ringers returning now that we are up and running again. We could ask them why they stopped. The obvious first tack would be to ask people who have stopped (that we know of) why they did. And ask people who stop in future why. Given that open days often attract large numbers who come to look with only a very small percentage giving it a go we could perhaps routinely ask them if they do not fancy giving it a go why not?
    My guess is that the root of the problem is our lack of flexibility. We are perhaps too rigid in times and locations for training, perhaps a lack of flexibility in providing for very different speeds of development and in trying for force everyone down the same developmental path. There are different levels of commitment and availability to provide for. Perhaps we ought to make better use of learner's different talents at an early stage in terms of perhaps administration, maintenance and so on.
    My guess is that we need to seriously sort out a sensible T&D model whilst ensuring social cohesion. In my view the traditional tower-based model for T&D is way past bust. But that is just me guessing. We need to start asking.
  • Paul Wotton
    As a once lapsed ringer myself, the reasons for lapsing were: young family, career and yes, no support mechanism that kept ringers who could not commit that much time in touch with ringing. Now back ringing regularly I am a tower secretary, local education officer and engaged in a CCCBR Workgroup. The topics of both re-engaging with lapsed ringers and nurturing them though those demanding family and career life stages are high on those I wish to promote..
  • Alan C
    As someone who hasn't been ringing long enough to lapse (other than for covid), I can only speak from personal experience that instruction, support, encouragement and patience (with a dash of cajoling) is always way more effective than criticism, disapproval and impatience.

    As Simon has hinted, if you don't feel welcome, why bother.
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