Growing Groups

Working for the Voluntary Sector in Hastings

Night Swimming

My favourite type of winter morning; bright, frosty, cold and clear, but a bit nippy on the ears as I cycled down to the swimming pool for my morning dip earlier today. I’ve been doing this for about 3 years now and in the winter there is something really relaxing about swimming while you can see it getting light through the windows at the baths.

At work, I’ve had more forms back from people who want to get our newsletter by email from now on (each person saves us a couple of quid a year) and others who want to join Hastings Voluntary Action for the first time. Also there has been a new flurry of requests by email, where readers want to transfer to the email version because it arrives a week earlier each month.

Yesterday we had our works Christmas Lunch at The Bridge Centre, showing a bit of support for other not for profit organisations as well as having a particularly good value nosh up for £8.50 per head.

Found a nice piece in Knowledge Jolt by Jack this week, which considers the differences between blogs and wikis


December 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A few days off

I went to the Geffrye Museum with my partner on Thursday, to see the exhibition of 400 years of Christmas past. Excellent free exhibition based on the homes of what is described as ‘middling sorts of people’ through history (which was nice!).

 I’m still checking the weather at Loch Glascarnoch,

Which is near where Hastings Rock and Fell Club are off to spend the first week in February.

I went out and got a tree for the living room on Friday and we spent Saturday decorating it with.  My missus also took this opportunity to play the Bings Christmas hits record. Most kitch track being that old favourite Christmas in Killarney

Returning to work, I’m now catching up with membership and database proformas, which people have filled out and need to be put in our database. I’m also updating our newsletter mailing list following the letter I sent out to 100 people who have been posted newsletters for at least the last year and a half without any follow up. (see entry last week).

December 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sustrans’ Connect2 bid wins

Just heard that Sustrans’ Connect2 bid won the lottery money, which is great news.

The bid was decided on the number of votes cast by email and phone. 

I managed to email 470 people from work and another 150 from other mailing lists I have for other things on my home PC. So in some small way I like to think that the HVA Community News mailing list, the rock and fell club mailing list and old political party mailing lists have all helped drag the money towards the Sustrans bid.

December 12, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Knowledge Jolt

An enjoyable climb last night at The Grove School, which has its own climbing wall but gets used by HRFC every Monday evening in term time.


This is where club newbies turn up and we all get to explain the basics of climbing (like balance, using your legs, 3 points of contact, little steps, etc) as well as keeping in condition on what is a particularly ‘fingery’ wall.


This morning I’ve been extending the wiki diary on our intranet, so that we can start to use this in 2008. Hopefully, this will mean that we can all then take bookings for meeting rooms from our own PCs (rather than use the books that are kept in just one office).


Also found a very nice post on Knowledge Jolt with Jack today, on the similarities between Knowledge Management , painting and plumbing


December 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rain didn’t stop play

Swanage was rained off, so Hastings Rock and Fell club ended up at K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley on Saturday for a considerably drier climb than we would have had out of doors.

I spent this Monday morning folding and stuffing envelopes – not finished on Friday because staff needed to spend time collating and sending out AGM materials earlier in the week. Anyway, it was also really good to send out about 100 ‘do you still exist’ letters with postal copies of our newsletter this month. Hopefully resolving some of the issues where we have been posting stuff to people from our database without any other clear contact from them requesting we continue to do so.

I also responded to an email about profiling the VCS today. Devon Capacity Builders asked if anybody else had been charting the extent of the voluntary and community sector in their own area. So I put my hand up to the fact that we had been doing this as part of our membership renewal work over the past few months.

I sent them a link to our membership renewal download page and an offer to speak to me (as the oily rag) if they wanted to know anything about the pitfalls that are there in trying to make a questionnaire that gets returned.

 It also turns out that NAVCA have a wordy document about this on their webite, which dealso with all the deep stuff what to ask and why.

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vote for a new Route Between Hastings & Bexhill

Just cast my vote for the Sustrans Connect 2 bid at

This is a bid which includes the improvement of the coastal cycle and pedestrian route between Hastings and Bexhill.

 If you want to make this happen you need to vote now for the Sustrans Connect 2 bid.

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Website Stuff

I haven’t been able to upload anything to the Hastings Voluntay Action website for the past four days and have been banging my head against a brick wall trying to work out why the Cute FTP has been refusing to log on.


I know it’s a bit of a geek thing, but since we now have direct responsibility for our own website and I’ve been using NVU to edit the HTML / CSS in house, people have grown used to having pages put up regularly to advertise their work and also seeing a front page that changes at least some of its content every week.


Also, I try to link newsletter content to new website pages, just so we have a good excuse to plug the website through the newsletter.


Anyway, after reading the help files for Cute FTP till my eyes bleed and wasting hours trying to work out what was wrong with the log on details, I eventually discovered that it was our host company that had changed all the passwords (an email telling me this would have been appreciated!).


Still, the good news is that we have clawed our way up the google ratings. Type ‘HVA’ into Google now and the only organisation to get a higher rating is the Herpes Virus Association. I can’t see why they get a higher rating than us, but I suspect its the number of links they’ve built up from other sites.


About a month and a half before I go stomping near Ullapool and the Met Office have been good enough to provide a webcam so I can find out if there is any decent snow in that corner of Scotland (updated every 10 minutes).

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two nil, two nil

Subjected to a diet of non-competitive games by situationists during my wayward youth, I of course claim that the heading to this entry is completely out of character. Obviously it’s the taking part that is important, even if we did win the Xtrax Voluntary and Community Sector Quiz last week (for the second year in a row!).

As part of the victorious second team fielded by Hastings voluntary Action, named HVB for the scoreboard, the Xtrax Young Peoples Drop In Centre awarded us a stunning gold victory cup filled full of condoms.

I have no idea if the FA Cup is similarly adorned on cup final day, though I suppose it adds a new dimension to that quiet little conversation you always see the Queen having with the captain of the winning team each year.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alpine Start on Saturday

With the bulk of another months newsletter behind me there was some free time to go for an indoor climb this Monday. So I went to the Grove School and ws also lucky enough to wangle myself a lift to Swanage on Saturday. Which means I get to have a clamber on Subluminal Wall (weather permitting)

Here is a nice picture of Subluminal Wall, which is all south facing, warm and out of the wind – apart from when its big booming waves, soaking wet and cold!

This afternoon, is final production stage of the December edition of our newsletter.

Every month I supply our designer with the copy and any photos on a Saturday morning, he then ‘fits’ all this over the weekend and sends a draft PDF back to me on Monday.

Done like this, it creates a last chance to tout each edition around the staff team by email and pick up the usual stray apostrophe and missing weblink before the one meeting with the designer, one hour before the edition goes to print.

A high resolution PDF is then produced and sent to our printer, while I take a low resolution one away and send it to all those who receive our publication a week early by email.

Its Folding Friday this week, so everyone welcome from about mid day.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Third Sector Blog in Town

Bashing the word ‘Hastings’ into this week revealed a blog by the recently hired Director of Hastings Trust – Mel Bonney-Kane. I’ve sent Mel a welcome to third sector blogging in Hastings and also stuck this new blog by Hastings Trust in my bloglines account.

I find bloglines is a really useful as a homepage on my PC, because it gives me a list of everyone who has made a new blog contribution each time time I fire up Explorer.

Today, one of the things I’ve been doing is cobbling together a letter to send to about 100 people who get our newsletter by post (in some cases getting it since the year dot). Its a tidy up operation to make productive contact with people we seem to have been sending things to but don’t have any recorded contact data in the other direction–

Dear newsletter reader,


I am writing to ensure Hastings Community News is using the most up to date contact details for its postal mailings. My records show you are a regular postal recipient of our publication, which we send to you free of charge, as a contact for the group shown on the label attached.

  To Continue Getting Hastings Community News by Post – Free

Please can you confirm we are still sending this publication to the correct person at the correct address, by placing a tick in the box below.

   To Change to Hastings Community News by email – Free

Where possible, we now try to send Hastings Community News by email, since this is sent out a week earlier than the paper version, saving us postage and staff time on collating, folding, and enveloping. If you would like to get our publication by email, rather than by post, all you need to do is place a tick in the box below and provide details of your email address.


                                                                        Your email address __________________________


You can also replace your postal edition of Hastings Community News with an email one, by sending a request to together with your name and address.

 To Apply for Free Full Membership of HVA – Free

Literally hundreds of local voluntary and community groups become full members of HVA. Joining is free and entitles you to a range of services.  If you feel your group would like to be sent a membership form  please indicate by placing a tick in the box below


When you have finished with this form, please return it in the post paid envelope enclosed so you can either; continue receiving  Hastings Community News by post, amend your postal address details, receive Hastings Community News by email or request a membership form to join HVA.


Yours sincerely,



December 3, 2007 Posted by | Hastings, voluntary | Leave a comment