GETTING INVOLVED AND VOLUNTEERING


Apart from the Clergy, and some external contractors, only a very small number of people are employed on a paid basis to keep things running efficiently.  Like all parishes St. Giles is completely reliant on the time and talents of many volunteers: people of all ages and backgrounds, who put something back in order for our common life to flourish. Giving something of our time and skills can be a very rewarding experience, especially when we can see it makes a difference.

It is all too easy to let this go unnoticed, but towards the end of 2016 we started to compile a list. It turned out that over 300 people are actively involved, some not even living in the parish or members of the regular church community.

Ways to Get Involved

If you would be interested in getting involved in any of the areas shown in this table, or have a skill or interest in something not listed, but that may be useful, we would be delighted to hear from you. More information about work carried out in some of these areas can be found, together with photographs, in this part of the website - see the menu on the right.

Administration
Alzheimer's support group
BBQ / refreshments for churchyard services
Bell ringers
Brass Polishers
Bereavement groups
Burial Records
Candles for special services
Candles on candle stand
Cakes / Harvest loaf
Church watch
Churchwardens
Churchyard Team / Fabric Committee
Charity fundraising co-ordination
Confirmation group helpers
Deanery Synod rep.
DBS (CRB) checks
Electrical safety / PAT testing
Facebook
Faith and Justice spokesperson
Family and Children's worker
Fete organisers and helpers
Film Night organisation
Finance / Planned giving 
Flower arrangers
Friends of St Giles 
Gift Aid
Health and Safety officer
Home visits / Communion
House Group hosts / leaders
Keyholders / Alarm callout
Laundry
Lesson Readers
Let's Sing group
Lollipop Club
Magazine compilation
Magazine advertising
Magazine distribution / delivery
Memorial plaques
Money counters
Music and choir
Organist / Choirmaster
Parish Archives / Inventory
Parish Office support
Pastoral Team
Parochial Church Council
Photography for events etc.
Planned Giving
Pop-in tea and chat
Prayer leaders
Readers
Saturday gardening
Service and chalice assistants
Sidespersons
Social committee / events
Sunday School / Crossbearers
Tea / Coffee / Wine / Sherry
Toddlertots
Toy library
Website 
Wedding course helpers
This is thought to be a complete list, but if any have been missed out please let us know!

Cream Tea for Volunteers

Before Christmas 2016 I attended a flower-arranging workshop and then a pre-Christmas event to make decorations for the church. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, let alone for the displays themselves astounded me, along with the dedication and talent of a huge band of people, and they were so welcoming, friendly and willing to let us newbies have a go.

Articles on this page are by Jo Cook.  Photos by Lesley Parsons, Click to enlarge

      

It struck me that if this was going on in just this area, what else had I taken for granted – the churchyard looking so beautiful, just assuming there would be music in church, the cleanliness of the church, enjoying the refreshments and social events, being served Communion, collecting the hymn books on the way into church, the sound of bells calling me to church on a Sunday, someone reading, composing the prayers, my magazine being produced and delivered – the list is endless.

  With this in mind, and the fact that I had heard Matthew on many occasion stating that it takes a hundred volunteers to keep our church going, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate and thank all our volunteers together and what better way than a cream tea.

I then started collating all the groups of people and to my astonishment, as well as Matthew’s, I discovered that there are nearer three hundred members of our community that keep our church going! 

How amazing is that (and terrifying in terms of catering!)?
 

This is definitely something to give thanks to God and thanks to each other for, for keeping our wonderful church not just up and running but working so seamlessly.  The amount of love, work and hours put in is awe-inspiring and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
 

I hope you all enjoyed the cream tea; Judging by the numerous thank you emails, cards and conversations, for which I am really grateful, I think it went well and it was lovely to see everyone interacting together.

I would like to thank you for the help in clearing up and for your generous support of the raffle which raised an amazing £189.50 for the charity of the month, The Stroke Association.  



Why Volunteer?

Volunteering is hopefully a win-win situation. Primarily I firstly did it to help out at Sunday School and then I needed to volunteer to help myself. I gained friends, new skills and confidence, and enjoyment from all my roles and hopefully in return I have helped out saving other people time.

However, it does have to be at the right time for you as taking on too much when you are not ready becomes counterproductive.


 

  


ABOUT ST. GILES CHURCH


Volunteering for Me

My first introduction to volunteering came in October 2009 when I joined the St Giles Sunday School Team as an Assistant Leader, along with a number of others. I’m not quite sure how I found myself doing this, I think perhaps because I stayed at the sessions anyway with my daughter, Isabelle, and also I wanted to help out the then Leader, my friend, Jacqui Brown, as she had spent many years tirelessly running the school and never got a break to worship in church herself.
 
 

Jacqui has a magnificent way with children as all who have met her will testify, and it was a privilege to be able to learn from the best and a testament of her teaching skills that we were let loose in couples to assist in running the group on a rota basis. I remember being incredibly nervous for quite a while but in the, what I think was about, six years that I did this it was immensely rewarding, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the children and making crafts and had enormous fun with my partner in crime, Clare Slyfield.

Somehow, about a year later, I also started volunteering at St Giles in 2010 helping out Liz in the Parish Office. After a long period of illness I had lost all self-confidence and was concerned that I had also lost my abilities as an administrator - yet I knew I somehow would have to return to paid work. Matthew kindly suggested that I help out as a gentle route back both to building selfesteem and testing the water to see if I was still me! I was terrified both at being back in an office environment and of finding out if I still had “it”, in case I had lost the one thing I felt I had been really good at; I liken it to Schrödinger’s cat (probably incorrectly) – if I didn’t “open the box” I would be both good and bad at admin and I was not sure if I wanted to face the reality and find out. Still, as I had to get back to work, I had no choice.

On our first encounter with each other I can only liken Liz and me to a couple of animals circling round each other, trying to work out if we were friends or foes and should we trust each other! Liz was not used to having to share her workspace with anyone other than Matthew and I was out of practice working in an office environment. It was a gentle introduction, initially filing and sorting out but it wasn’t long before I grew in confidence and was trusted with writing letters and record-keeping and writing up the service register. Gradually our trust in each other grew and I hope Liz will agree that we have become good friends! I will be forever grateful to her for allowing me to take over her (and now my) favourite but lengthy job of writing up the marriage registers and I consider it an honour to have this small but important part in a wedding.

I am pleased to say that all our efforts led me to a parttime temporary paid administrative post and I went on to get a permanent post in the same company in 2012 where I have been ever since, where my skills and confidence have grown further. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today if Matthew (and Liz) had not offered me that chance and I will be eternally thankful (even if I do now have to dodge behind a tree when I see him coming for fear of being sold the benefits of taking on another role in St Giles!!).