Book of Numbers

Between other projects, I’m compiling the annual report for St Mary’s church. This time last year I produced the report for the first time, and we did it formally to meet the requirements of SORP. Despite the Bond villain name, SORP actually stands for Statement of Recommended Practice, for charity accounts. We’ve been blessed in our Honorary Treasurer for the last 3 years, Antony Wedgwood, who is himself an accountant. He does the numbers with ease, so I just have to sort out the words.

This year the report needs updating, but thankfully not creating from scratch. Just as well, as I have significantly less time than last year, what with the Post Office campaign, GLA elections, my Guardian blog and works on the flat… oh and the day job.

I do enjoy compiling the report, not least because it’s fascinating to get the overview of all the different activities associated with the church; St Mary’s is very much an outward-looking church so the report has lots to cover. As well as minstry and music, the report covers the pre-school and youth club run each day, and the Access for All project. The church already hosts groups as diverse as a legal advice centre, a Stroke Club and Alcoholics Anonymous; opening up the crypt, which is the focus of Access for All, is the next big challenge for us. The project has already won lottery and council funding. So lots more numbers for Antony’s successor to crunch.

The report is also a reminder of how many volunteers it takes to run all these groups and the hours they put in. Last month, the Commission on the Future of Volunteering (part of Islington-based charity Volunteering England) published its report. Unsurprisingly they reported that potential volunteers are being put off by all the bureaucracy. You need to recruit people to monitor the people who complete the papers to get the funding to recruit more people who then get vetted to actually do the work…. Now that Britons work the longest hours in Europe, and with a government that discourages stay-at-home Mums, finding people with time for volunteering is harder than ever. I’m amazed at the great volunteers we have and the time they put in. I just hope the report does them all justice.

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