Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service column with Karen Weaver

Over the summer I’ve been enjoying following the Sculpt art trail in and around the Masham area. This is an initiative from local voluntary group Art in the Churches, supported by the National Lottery.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 11:10 am
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 1:26 am
Up to date and valuable community information on display at Masham Church.

The group has brought major contemporary art installations into seven churches which I would probably never otherwise have visited, and the event has happily taken me to a number of villages that are well off the beaten track.

The art works include a sound installation, a huge hovering rock made of felt, giant cocoons of woven metal, glass balls and silk, and painted blue neon tubes.

I didn’t necessarily like all of them but what I loved is the willingness of these church communities to open their doors to something different and challenging and to welcome visitors in to their sacred spaces.

The visitor books illustrate that this is a thought provoking and exciting cultural project which is attracting interest and praise alike.

Sharing information about the wealth of voluntary and community sector activities on offer is one of our key roles here at HARCVS so when I’m out and about I always take the opportunity to look at local community notice boards. I know it’s slightly geeky but it’s a great way to pick up new ideas and connections and see what’s going on in different areas.

For all that websites, social media and the press play their part, there is no doubt that local information shared by trusted local sources, be they people or places, is still very important, particularly in the more rural areas.

However, regardless of the method used, the challenge of keeping information up to date and accurate is a tricky one.

I came across quite an extreme reminder of this when visiting one of the churches taking part in Sculpt. As I studied the notice board at the back of this peaceful and historic building I noticed a fading poster for a service offered by Ripon CVS, which I knew for sure must be at least six years out of date as HARCVS and RCVS merged in 2013. Reminding myself of the saying about “asking for forgiveness not permission”, I decided to remove the poster and brought it back to the office to see if anyone knew how old it might be. When we checked on the employment dates of the person given as the contact we discovered that she’d left RCVS in 2004. So that poster had been out of date for at least 15 years; I’m still wondering if anyone in the church has noticed it has been removed.

Sadly resources don’t stretch to us driving round the area checking that community notice boards are up to date, but thankfully technology does make it considerably easier for us to ensure that our online Where To Turn Community Information Directory is as accurate as possible. First published in 1988, it was then a telephone directory style document, and paper updates were circulated to be painstakingly stuck in with glue.

Years later I recall being at a meeting where a district nurse pulled a very dog-eared copy out of her bag and my heart sank at the thought of how out of date it would be if she was using it for information.

Thankfully the online version of Where to Turn continues to be very well used and we encourage all voluntary and community groups to make sure they’re in there and keep the information up to date via www.harcvs.org.uk.

Sculpt runs until Saturday, September 28 (details via www.artinchurches.co.uk).