Reflections from the Clerk in challenging times
Since becoming Clerk of QVA in July, on the retirement of Jane Robinson who for many years steered the charity through many successful retreats both in the U.K. and internationally, there have been many challenges, not least linked to Covid-19.
We have welcomed an Interim Working Retreats Co-ordinator, Simon Watkins, who has replaced Hannah Brock Womack on a temporary basis, since Hannah took maternity leave. QVA has been well served by our Retreats Organisers in the past with Hannah and before her Jasmine Piercy, who now lives in Slovenia, but keeps in contact. We are no less blest by Simon, who has taken on the many challenges currently posed by Covid-19, since our Retreats, wherever they are, require physical interaction.
The threats to QVA during the current crisis are very real, but these have stimulated the charity to look for new opportunities.
QVA decided to investigate how it might continue to carry on the concept of working retreats in a different way whilst the Pandemic frustrates its normal practice. A group of Trustees and Simon worked on several possibilities. The group favoured two models that could be incorporated into our 2021 programme, which are: Online Retreats in Daily Life and Commuting Retreats. The first focuses on participants’ individual voluntary service, drawing on themes connected to the volunteer experience. It aims to support, enrich and re-energise that experience with others and with a facilitator remotely during the current crisis and physically when conditions allow. The Commuting Retreats presents an approach not dissimilar from our current model, but in contrast will not require overnight accommodation away from home.
Meanwhile QVA continues to investigate the possibilities of the ‘normal retreat’ both at home and abroad in 2021 and beyond. It is unlikely that any of our planned retreats will happen before the summer next year, but we continue to maintain contact with prospective participants, keeping them informed of future plans. Nevertheless one planned event in Borgo Basino for April has enabled the organisers to make arrangements for on-line sessions, which started in November.
We are therefore hopeful that in 2021 and thereafter we will be able to welcome Friends and supporters generally from the U.K. and elsewhere into the spiritual gifts of volunteering and in sharing these more widely. It is we believe through small actions, without financial gain, that new currencies will emerge, those of love and kindness, rewarding both volunteers and the beneficiaries in equal measure.
QVA welcomes all and wishes all past, present and future volunteers a peaceful 2021.
Jeff Beatty, Clerk, QVA