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Clubs remain in need of support; THOUGHT.

Byline: Ian Handford of the day

FOLLOWING the arrival of coronavirus in the UK all public meetings, organised events, social outings and even group meals were banned, making it particularly hard for membership based groups.

A few years ago, while researching an article on charities at the Central Library Torquay, I came across a list of hundreds of associations, clubs, institutions and groups run by volunteers, who gave of their time to organise what might loosely be called "social work" for their members, and even the public, looking for friendship or companionship, or access to events like talks, walks, outings a meal etc, as part of the organisation's remit.

The pandemic caused a doublepenalty for member-based organisations and volunteers, assisting quasi health or education sectors, sports clubs, theatre groups, libraries and private museums etc, as well as hundreds of independent groups representing every sector of society of all towns and cities of the UK.

The disease brought organisations to a virtual standstill, with most cancelling all their 2020 diaried events, which in turn resulted in a "double penalty" not immediately apparent.

The initial penalty came as annual subscriptions were not renewed which for some organisations created financial problems.

But the second "penalty" came when the volunteers who had previously given of their time freely to run or manage the organisation, started to walk away because of minimal activity.

This is particularly relevant in the case of an Honorary Treasurer, Secretary or Chairman departing, when no successor is found.

Prior to the "lockdowns and social distancing" many organisations, including The WI, Probus, Garden groups, History, Health, Environment, Wine Tasting, the Masons and the Round Table, etc, had often used me as their speaker.

All the lunch or dinner speeches immediately stopped, though a few organisations have now switched to a more limited form of meeting on the internet.

For organisations that rely on annual or regular subscription fees, it is essential their members continue to pay these in the New Year, even though another lockdown has commenced, to prove they want the organisation to continue in the longer term, which will give added confidence to the voluntary committees members to remain aboard.

Subscription income covers what might be called the "hidden costs" which determine whether or not the organisation remains financially viable while keeping its unpaid volunteers.

Yet it is vital we continue to retain the loyalty and support of our members and our voluntary helpers and the committee.

Hidden costs are already affecting many small organisations, with some having already lost their volunteers.

Costs include the production of printed stationery, letters, reports notices, postages and telephone, plus premises expenses when rent, rates, insurance and electricity may be incurred, even though little activity is seen to be done.

So, my message is - please keep loyal to your chosen organisation/s until this awful pandemic and the lockdowns finally end and your committee and volunteers can return to work again on your behalf.

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Author:Ian Handford of the day
Publication:The Plymouth Herald (Plymouth, England)
Date:Jan 1, 2021
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