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Royal Society of Church Music trials flexible volunteering

11 January 2019


Huw Williams, director of music, conducts the choirs of girls and men at Bath Abbey, singing during a Sunday morning service in the Abbey, in 2017

Huw Williams, director of music, conducts the choirs of girls and men at Bath Abbey, singing during a Sunday morning service in the Abbey, in 2017

A NEW approach to harnessing the good will of those who wish to improve church music is being piloted by the Royal Society of Church Music (RSCM).

The model, which will be trialled in the north-west later this year, will enable people to volunteer on a flexible basis, without having to join a local committee.

RSCMCatherine Chapman, a leading co-ordinator at the RSCM

“We are not alone in realising that structures are changing, and the old ways, that people signed up to be part of things, aren’t all that sustainable,” the director of the RSCM, Hugh Morris, said this week. “The RSCM, for several decades, worked on the model of delivering local activities using committee structures in areas that more or less correspond to Anglican dioceses. It has been very valuable. . . But, of course, it means you can only join up to be a volunteer by joining up to committee.

“We want to better match what we have got as volunteers against what we need to be done; so that people’s time, talent, and availability are better used.”

It would “open up a whole new raft of ways” to volunteer, he suggested, from writing a piece of music, to taking photographs of concerts, to making tea. There was “nothing wrong” with volunteering just a few hours a year: “We want to make it a flexible experience. . . You don’t have to be a musician to support things that the RSCM is doing.”

The pilot follows a year of consultation. The north-west trial will involve eight of the former area committees. A lead co-ordinator, Catherine Chapman, has been employed one day a week to oversee volunteers and to manage compliance and paperwork. It is intended that the pilot will be followed by national roll-out from 2020.

Music Sunday will take place on 16 June next year, and Mr Morris, who was appointed this year (Interview, 16 November), hopes that it will be an opportunity to draw “fresh people through the door, which enables connection points to all sorts of things”.

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