I know that recruitment and retention of new ringers is currently a hot topic with the branch, so I will share our recent experience in gaining four new ringers at St. Lawrence in Bradwell.
A poster campaign and notices read in services were good for setting the scene – but a personal appearance and appeal by one or more ringers in a service was really helpful; the side-effect is that you’re appealing to people likely to be available on a Sunday. It also establishes a personal connection – potential recruits know your face.
Getting them to come for an open evening on a specific date was good as many people could try it and it was specifically oriented towards the recruits. We took email addresses and mobile numbers and then used them to remind people to come and join us just before our next practice: there is a fine line between reminding people and stalking them but hopefully this is the right side of the line! Anyone thinking about it also got that personal contact, which was encouraging, rather than motivating themselves to attend their first practice.
Finally, we needed to prioritise the learners, allocate them specific time to learn to handle a bell and get them to rounds swiftly. In our case, band with progressively fewer members meant the the oft-heard complaint of “we don’t get to ring this method any more because of the time spent on the learners” was not an issue because we had reached a point of not having enough to ring anything except the basics. A decision needs to be made by the whole band though: it is a big time commitment and not just by the one or two people specifically teaching the learners, especially if you have more than a couple of learners: which I think was helpful as they were able to support and learn from each other. It’s hard and somehow not the done thing to reach out and include more people in ringing – but it’s worked for us and we now have four new learners from our initiative.