Last week I addressed an 'A' Level Citizenship course at Oaklands College, St Albans on community involvement. We looked at the why and what and how of community work, identified areas each student could get involved in locally, and discussed community cohesion and social capital. The advice I gave them was:
- get involved, but don't let it take over your life
- enroll others, but understand their interest and commitment will vary
- recognise projects have cycles
- think ahead and plan for the project to continue without you
The following day I was helping at the youth club, set up as part of the Creating Safer Communities for All project in Leighton Buzzard, and was given the opportunity to practise what I had preached. The youth club had had a good first year, but then two of the five founding volunteers had moved on and it had taken a while to recruit some more. We just thought it was sorted, when changes in personal circumstances of three of the new volunteers meant they were unavailable. Also the mum who'd taken on the leadership of the club was getting tired. Her partner, wanting to protect her, was all for her packing it in. My view was rather than getting despondent, we needed to make it more manageable, get more people involved, make a rota to reduce the burden and train people to take over.
So that's our plan. And on the first night of the new rota, a mum came by and said she wanted to get involved. A couple of days later a friend told me about her 16-year-old sports-mad stepson who is great with younger kids, but needed some focus. She's going to talk to him about helping out.
Considering these good omens I think it's going to turn out fine.