A Nice Problem

Posted on 17th September 2015 by

A problem I have in common with many others working for voluntary sector and community organisations is saying thank you, or rather finding the time to show appreciation and say thank you to all the people who support us in our work. I have been meaning to write this blog since the middle of June, which illustrates the problem, so here are some of the people I have been wanting to thank properly since then.

bullet point Everyone involved in our Gala Concert for the Neighbourhood Care Scheme at St Lukes Church in June. I would particularly like to thank the performers: Kate Payne (violin), Hannah Savignon-Smyth (cello and voice), Xin Huang (piano), Adam Swayne (piano), Sue Gregg (flute) and Maria Gibson (guitar) of Armonia, Annabelle Williams (voice) and Rachel Fryer (piano). The concert was organised by Music & Wine at St Lukes, so I would like to thank them as well (do check out their website – some of their concerts are exquisite). And, of course, everyone in the audience who helped to make the event so lively and successful.

bullet point The fifty NCS volunteers who have been with us for five years or more. We had possibly been guilty of taking some of them for granted, so in May to coincide with European Neighbours’ Day we wrote to each of them and sent them a specially designed Thank You card (see the animation above). We need to thank Karen Bradford and Seb Feast for the striking design of this.

bullet point All our other volunteers. Last year, we had 232 volunteers visiting people, so we have a lot of thanking to do. We tried to do some of this by holding an Afternoon Tea event for our volunteers at St George’s Church, Kemp Town, in July. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon and a lovely event. We need to thank the Mayor Councillor Lynda Hyde (and her consort and driver) for gracing the occasion and giving a very well considered speech, focusing particularly on the contribution of our younger volunteers. Gwyn Chanlewis provided a very interesting laughter yoga session, and volunteer Anne Campbell played the grand piano to create the atmosphere. Udita and Teener from Sing for Better Health kept the music going. Lynne Macpherson, the Café Manager, and her team (Chris, Jorge and James) provided a lovely setting and fantastic food. Impetus deputy officer, Natalie Brook, showed her skills in preparing Pimms, making speeches and taking photographs. Thanks required all round.

You can see the problem; these were just the big occasions. There are also my colleagues in NCS and Impetus, and our office volunteers who do so much to smooth the running of the scheme, and our institutional funders whose support has been critical in a difficult year, and all our individual donors whose support comes from direct appreciation of our work, and organisations like Amex and BUPA who have been supporting us with volunteer recruitment, and, and, and…

On 23 July, I attended an event at Somerset Day Centre in Kemptown to celebrate the Centre’s 25th Anniversary. It was a very well attended party, with a speech by the mayor. I found it quite moving, because the variousness of the people there highlighted what a joint enterprise it is – and what an effort is involved – to keep something like the centre going for a quarter of a century. As part of the East Brighton Older People’s Partnership, we work closely with Somerset Day Centre together with the LifeLines Project. At the Celebration, I felt a strong sense of solidarity with our partners; I reflected that we were just a few strands in a wide network of hundreds and hundreds of large and small groups all working to make Brighton & Hove a better and more decent place to live. To do all the thanking necessary to properly appreciate this work would probably take a whole team of full-time thankers (could this be a new profession?). Meanwhile, we each have to do the best we can to celebrate and properly appreciate so much positive effort.

A nice problem.

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