Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

Everyone Involved

Saturday, December 5th, 2015 | Thoughts


How do we get people more engaged with community groups?

It is something that I imagine most groups are concerned about. Most of the people on their mailing list probably never turn up to any of their events. Some attend every now and then, or come for a while then stop coming back. Few are as actively engaged as the group would like them to be. I might even suggest that is impossible, because more engagement is usually better.

Some may just want to sit on the mailing list and keep an eye on the activities of the group. I know there are people and groups like this on the West Yorkshire Humanists mailing list. Others probably do genuinely intend to go to events, but there is always something else on. I have sat on the Leeds Salon’s mailing list for years and maybe made it to two events.

This was brought into sharp focus for me recently when I was talking to one of the people who run the Finnish language school. It sounds very useful for me. However, it is on a Saturday morning. Saturday morning is when I do Parkrun. And when I have band practice. And when my advanced Toastmasters club meets. It’s not that Saturday is a bad day, I am just busy all the time. But it it got me thinking about getting members to buy in.

“I am busy” is really a meaningless phrase because everyone is busy these days. It is shorthand for “I have other priorities”. Thus it might not be reaching people and letting them know about events that is the difficulty groups encounter. It could be that they are doing all of that, but they are not pushing themselves high enough up a person’s priorities.

At the same time, I was thinking about my host’s address for Sunday Assembly Leeds. I needed to talk about how the group is run by volunteers, and how we need people’s support volunteering. It occurred to me that one of the selling points should be that that is what a community is. If you are not volunteering, you are not really part of the community in the same way that somebody who is volunteering is. This is a whole different circle to get people inside as Rick Warren would describe it, but there is actually where the good stuff is for them as well as you.

Anecdotally I would say that once someone is involved in the group they spend more time thinking about it and are more likely to turn up to events. They feel like they know what is going on. They are part of the community, it forms a cornerstone of their social life and engagement spirals upwards.

That means that these two issues have a common solution. If you can get people to help run the organisation it not only helps the group run smoothly but is also beneficial for them because they fill including and their engagement levels go up in a positive feedback cycle.

Therefore I am putting forward the idea of Everyone Involved. What if you asked every member of your group to be involved in some way? It does not have to be a big way. They could help run things at events. Maybe put the welcome packs out or be a greeter. They could do something from home – write articles, update the website, even just re-tweet the group’s messages. But the idea is that everyone – every single member – would be asked to do a job, no matter how small or trivial.

I am still fleshing out the idea. It in itself is incredibly simple of course, but whether it is a good idea or not, and how it could be practically implemented remain to be discussed.

HAG food drive guide

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism

In April last year, the Humanist Action group launched our first set of guides. These were the feed the homeless guide and the organiser’s guide, allowing you to start a Humanist Action Group in your town or city, and get started with a basic programme.

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re launching our third guide – on running a food drive. This will take you through all the steps required to run your own food drive, similar to our Holiday Food Drive – though it can be at any time of year, and indeed for anyone who needs it.

The guide is available for free to anyone who would like a copy – if that is you, get in touch!

Meeting Matt

Friday, July 1st, 2011 | Foundation, Humanism

Often, volunteering with the Humanist Action Group is a very rewarding experience. We always receive positive feedback on the homeless outreach work we do. However, sometimes, it’s heartbreaking.

Last week, myself and Katie were out out on the usual run, when we encountered a man sat at the bottom of Briggate. He was very memorable because of the amount of blood covering his eye and nose.

Having sat down to talk to him, we soon discovered that only about fifteen minutes before we arrived, he had been badly assaulted by a group of young men.

After finding an eye witness and taking his details should the police be able to do anything, we walked Matt up to Leeds General Infirmary to get him checked out. Despite having a headache he thankfully seemed still coherent, but you can’t be too careful with blows to the head.

My point is though, who does that?

Who just goes up to someone and starts kicking them in the head? Or tramp whacking was Matt described it.

I’ll be honest, normally I would be a little dubious of such a story, but having had it entirely collaborated by an eye witness you have to wonder to yourself what kind of sick bastard would do such a thing. It degrades your faith in humanity.

Matt was clearly an intelligent guy who had been down on his luck; on the way to the hospital he discussed various programming languages with me, and the various flavours of physics with Katie. If it can happen to Matt, it can happen to anyone.

Yet somehow, some individuals, luckily a very, very small minority of our society, think it is OK to abuse people like Matt.

Luckily, there is something we can do. Getting out there and making a difference not only provides a valuable service but also has an incredibly powerful psychological impact, showing that people do care.

As such, I would like to take this opportunity to says thank you to everyone who has been involved with HAG work over the years. It is times like this that really remind you why it is important.

HAG guides now available

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 | Foundation, News

Humanist Action Group We’re pleased to announce that today we are launching the first in what will be a series of guides by the Humanist Action Group. HAG does great work in Leeds and if you have ever thought about running such a group in your local community, these guides are for you.

The guides have been under development for a while and we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to them.

The first guide we are making available is the organiser’s guide which explains the basics of organising a group, finding and recruiting volunteers, staying on top of everything and making sure you have the correct paperwork in place.

The second guide we are launching today is the homeless guide which explains how to run a simple feed the homeless programme. If you would like to get a copy of these, just get in touch!

We have further guides under development also, to keep an eye out for those.

Humanist Action Group launches new volunteering website

Saturday, November 13th, 2010 | Foundation, Humanism

Humanist Action Group website

The new Humanist Action Group website is now live!

HAG was founded in 2009 with the idea that we should stop talking about how Humanism is about living a good and ethical life which makes the most of it for ourselves and those around us and get out there and start making a difference – not because scripture told us we should but because it is the right thing to do.

The new website makes it easier for people to get involved in volunteering – simply fill in your details and enter your nearest town or city. We will then match your details to local volunteering opportunities that HAG is coordinating and let you know when they are available.

Reaching out for new volunteers

Saturday, October 30th, 2010 | Foundation

On Thursday we ran a special session of our homeless outreach work specifically designed to introduce new people. Turn out was great and we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came down and gave up their evening to help out.

An open letter to David Cameron

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 | Humanism, Religion & Politics

I seem to be writing a lot of open letters these days. It’s mainly for two reasons. The first is that it’s a lot cheaper to write an open letter than one you post in the traditional matter – the cost of a stamp may not seem much but actually I need to buy a book of stamps and a pack of envelopes, I then use one of which and the rest eventually get lost which is a waste not to mention the huge cost of my time for doing all this. The second is of course that Royal Mail would probably lose the letter at the end of all that. But anyway…

Having read the recent BHA e-bulletin, Pepper kindly pointed me in the direction of this Conservative blog post in which David Cameron is quoted as saying

take me to a humanist soup kitchen

Given that David was at the time talking about religiously-inspired volunteering (as opposed to volunteering carried out simply because you have good morals and care about your fellow human being) it seems appropriate to use the Biblical quote “ask and you shall receive.”

As a consequence I would like to extend an invitation to Mr. Cameron to spend an evening with the Humanist Action Group here in Leeds which regularly go out to offer soup and hot drinks to the homeless living on the streets.

Come spend some time helping out – not because your god or your holy book tells you to but purely on the basis that it’s the right thing to do. I’m sure many religious people volunteer for the same motives but the suggestion that volunteering is purely the pursuit of the religious is simply beyond laughable.

Even a quick glance at statistics show that the non-religious give more to the charity than the religious do. But of course that doesn’t even begin to paint an accurate picture because most non-believers don’t give to charity in the name of atheism so the actual higher is much higher.

So come down, spend some time volunteering in Leeds, see how it’s possible to give out a cup of coffee without a verse from a holy book cleverly inscribed on the lid.

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Chris Worfolk

Leeds HAGs sets new high

Sunday, January 24th, 2010 | Foundation

Yesterday’s homeless action saw the best attendance for a Humanist Action Group of Leeds event in the history of the group.

As you’ll probably be aware the weather in the UK has been rather cold over the past month with several heavy snowfalls and as a result the group has made a special effort to make sure volunteers were on hand when needed.

Luckily everyone living on the city centre’s streets managed to make it into a shelter during the snowfall – it’s actually a really good feeling when you go out in the snow and find nobody because it means chances are they are somewhere warmer. Now people are back on the streets however we really need people to continue to sign up and volunteer their time.

If you are interested in volunteering you can register your details on the website or find out more about the group on their Facebook page.

Holiday spirit

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 | Foundation, Humanism

Here at HAGs we’re making a real push at the moment to premote HAGs and get people volunteering.

It’s absolutely freezing here in Leeds at the moment and it’s often we at the moment as well so if there was any time of year that you don’t want to be stuck out on the streets, it’s probably about now.

As such we really need volunteers to make sure we’re going out as much as possible so if you can spare some time, do get in touch. We’re also working on how we can roll similar schemes out to other cities around the UK, and indeed the world, so if you’re interested let us know.