Club Focus is a series featuring clubs from big, small, rural, and urban areas around Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The series celebrates the variety of people, projects, and activities found amongst over 100 Rotary, Rotaract, Interact and RotaKids clubs throughout the area.
Located south of the Humber, the market town of Brigg in North Lincolnshire is home to an active group of Rotary members. Here are some of the highlights that make this club stand out.
Brigg Rotary – Rethinking meetups to reflect modern living
Brigg Rotary is on a journey to be a club fit for modern people and their needs. Current club president, Paul McCormick, has been on a mission to make Rotary work better for existing and potential members.
Paul joined the club in 2000 when he was 38 years old. At the time, the concept of a weekly meeting that he could attend on an evening straight from work appealed to him.
“I’m still working, and today things have changed,” he says, talking about the need to transform the way Rotary, and Brigg Rotary in particular, operates.
“Five years ago, we would not have considered that working from home would be a concept,” he says. “Embraced by many companies, this now means that people's work pattern has changed, and a more relaxed approach and hours of work have developed.”
For Paul and many others in the club, having fewer in-person meetings and sharing information through online mediums (email, social media, online meetings, etc.) are ways the club believes they can create a better experience for existing and new members, particularly those who paid employment.
“I still believe as humans we need interaction but the pattern of how and where we interact has changed,” says Paul.
As a result, the club decided to change from weekly to fortnightly meetings. To address concerns about the negative effects from reduced human interaction from fewer meetings, Brigg Rotary will also have a monthly get together. These meetings will take a more social approach with the first 10 to 15 minutes used to discuss Rotary related items. The rest of the time is to spend catching up with one another and getting to know visiting guests and any new “Friends” (see next section).
The club also operates under a “no shirt, no ties, no problem” philosophy. They prioritise being comfortable over tradition, believing that it’s your actions, not what you wear, that matters.
Students from Vale Academy in Brigg, North Lincolnshire help pack and Christmas food hampers during the pandemic. For over 20 years, Brigg Rotary has supported the Christmas hamper initiative, buying and collecting items to fill several dozens of boxes each year that are distributed to local people in need. Photo credit: Rotary Club of Brigg Facebook page.
Creating new community volunteer opportunities through Friends of Brigg Rotary
Thinking about modern demands on individuals and families, the club is gearing up to bring on a slightly different type of member. Like Birstall Luddites and York Friends of Rotary groups, Brigg hopes a Friends of Brigg group will be a vehicle to attract potential new members and offer a more relaxed introduction to Rotary.
The Friends of Rotary concept allows people more flexibility in how and when they volunteer, capturing the interest of people who want to help but perhaps can’t do so on a regular basis. Friends of Brigg will receive a fortnightly digest which informs them of activities and upcoming events. They can choose projects they want to help with and are welcome to attend any of the club’s meetings.
Since introducing the concept in July, three people have committed to joining Friends. Their first informal Friends of Brigg Rotary gathering is set to take place in early September 2023.
Collaborative partnering helps events go swimmingly
Of the various projects and initiatives the club is involved in, perhaps their biggest publicised event is the North Lincolnshire Rotary Swimarathon. And its success is due to the combined efforts of Rotary clubs of Brigg, Scunthorpe, and Scunthorpe Pentagon.
Joining forces with other Rotary clubs means there is a bigger network of support to find sponsorships to cover event costs, attract teams of swimmers, publicise the event throughout the area, organise the logistics, and run the event on the day.
The swimming event gathers teams from around the Brigg, Scunthorpe and surrounding areas to raise money for local charities and projects. On the day, teams swim relay style to complete as many lengths as possible in 50 minutes. Money raised through team sponsorships go to a Swimarathon Charity Fund and is distributed amongst organisations and projects in the local community.
Swimmers participate in a team relay during the 4th annual North Lincolnshire Rotary Swimarathon. In total, 21 teams swam 2369 lengths, which is the equivalent of 60 Kms (37 miles). Photo credit: North Lincolnshire Rotary Swimarathon Facebook page.
The 2023 event, held in March, raised £11,000—the largest amount raised so far in its four-year history—and funded projects from 24 organisations. Money raised this year will provide drumming sessions, replace old or damaged equipment, purchase a specialist wheelchair, develop and cover print costs of a guide for local carers, purchase musical equipment and much more (you can see a full list of the 2023 beneficiaries here).
Supporting local and international causes equally
One of the club’s key objectives this year is to commit an equal amount of support to local people and international communities. As part of an international service organisation, Rotary clubs are in no short supply of partners and projects to support beyond UK borders.
Partly driven by international disasters, the club is aware that they gave more financial support toward international projects than local causes from July 2022 to June 2023.
Members are making a conscientious effort to redress the balance and plan to work more closely with other Rotary clubs and local organisations. They are supporting key charities this year such as Sunflowers Children’s Action Group, a local charity creating events for children with life-limiting conditions, the Lost Chord UK Charity.
The clubs will also continue its support for young carers, local hospices, the eradication of polio, providing Christmas hampers to people in the community, sponsoring young people to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and more.
For Paul and the club, they hope focusing on local projects will help heighten awareness of Rotary in the community as they have done with the Swimarathon.
Writing to the members in the club’s newsletter, Paul states one of the club’s key objectives this year is to “maintain a happy and vibrant, inclusive Rotary club where everyone is involved in the work we do. We all need to be a part of it.”
And he’s not wrong. Without collective effort, none of this would be possible.
Find out more about Rotary Club of Brigg
Written by Rebecca A Mendoza with information provided by Paul McCormick and materials from Brigg Rotary club digests.
Rebecca is a freelance writer and member of York Rotary. You can learn more about her work at www.rebeccaamendoza.com