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Jack Jack Summerside, Support and Development Officer

Rise, Stretch and Shine

Don't worry. This blog isn't my attempt to re-invent myself as your local middle-aged Joe Wicks!That would be a stretch too far! This blog's about encouraging you to bring your skills to the effective running of all our local organisations that need your time and experience to keep going and adapt.

Like many people, the last few weeks of lockdown have meant getting used to doing things differently, and the desire and opportunity to do some new and different things. Right across the region, people have risen to the challenges of supporting family, friends, neighbours, and through volunteering time (formally or informally) to supporting your communities.

Of course, for many of us,lockdown has meant the a degree of freedom of time in which to do this. But it would be such a shame if the spirit, desire, energy and enthusiasm of so many people were to just vanish back into everyone's sitting rooms as things begin to return to 'normal'.

You may have been delivering food parcels, driving a van, packing up groceries, spending ten minutes chatting to an elderly neighbour on their doorstep from two metres away, because she hasn't spoken to anyone face-to-face for a fortnight. Many of the people running community and organisations are the very people who are the most vulnerable. Retired people, with a lifetime of experience, are often the folks who have the time to be Trustees or management committee members. This leaves the governance of a great many of our local community groups and charities large and small in a fragile position.

It's going to be a good while before the pubs,cafes, theatres, cinemas and restaurants are open again. And chances are you would like to do something different with your evenings than staring at another box-set on Netflix. You could pretend to yourself than you're going to take up painting, embroidery or learning Spanish...but (if you're anything like me) you know that probably won't really happen.

Find out what community groups there are, either doing things locally, or around a particular theme or interest, and have a conversation with them. Think about offering your skills and experience to standing for their committee or board.

The last weeks have shown us all that being part of a community is like an extended family, and it feels good to give. All of us at Connected Voice, volunteers, staff and trustees, care passionately about the value of community and the organisations that are the glue that holds our society together, and gives life purpose and meaning. So much so, that we actively encourage and enable our people to get involved directly in helping with the running of community organisations. It adds value to the skills and experience we bring back to the workplace. If you're an employer, you could think about ways that you could enable and encourage your own people to contribute to local organisations. It's a business investment, not just a cost.

So, why not Rise from your sofa, and to the challenge. It's an opportunity for you Stretch your skill-set and open yourself to the opportunities of acquiring new ones. And it gives you, and the organisation you could help to run, a real chance to Shine.

Or, you could sit on the sofa and put the telly on.