BEING A VOLUNTEER: Ten Years On

++++ THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE BFS COMMITTEE ++++

I was going to remain quite on recent online discussions regarding the British Fantasy Society, in particular the late ‘spring’ edition of the journal, as Its no secret that I’m stepping down from the BFS this year.

I stepped down from Publicity almost two years ago – a role that has yet to be filled, but more on that later. I still send out the FREE eNewsletter, which I created during my time in that role, when I have content to share. I have also adapted that mail system to remind BFS members of renewal dates, sent roughly on a quarterly basis in the hope that no one misses an issue of the journal (a point raised on Facebook).

And speaking as a member, and I imagine it is the same for all volunteers on the committee, I too would like to see the journal arrive on schedule.

Which brings me to the aforementioned comments by folks on Facebook and possibly in the BFS forums, although I will never be seen there as I make it a point to avoid ALL forums these days.

As members we are entitled to be annoyed, even pissed off that a journal is late – no one on the committee denies that as far as I am aware, but I’m not sure that social networks are always the best place to solve these issues.

Lets look at that committee for a second.

Post vacant – President

Lee Harris – Chair

Helen Hopley – Membership Secretary

Post vacant – BFS Journal Editor

Sarah Newton – Fiction Editor

Stuart Douglas – Features Editor 

Neil Ford – Web Administrator – Technical Matters Only

Christopher Teague – Stockholder

Martin Roberts – Events Organiser

Amanda Rutter – Treasurer

Post vacant – Publicity

Stephen Theaker – Awards Administrator

After World Fantasy we can add at the very least…

Post vacant – Membership Secretary

Post vacant – Events Organiser

I have already stated elsewhere that I do not feel qualified to comment on the all the reasons the journal is late – I’m not involved in its production, but I can hazard a guess that one of the reasons might be due to a vacant post.

THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE. I am simply trying to look beyond the surface and the anger.

Other reasons MAY or MAY NOT include:

The printers adding two weeks to delivery at the last minute.

To save postage as a book was going to go out with it.

When there’s been delays in the past Helen and Lee with my agreement have extended all memberships so that all current members should receive four publications for their annual subs.

The BFS website states the following:

Publications:
Members will receive copies of all Society Publications, currently planned to be a paperback edition of the BFS Journal, published every quarter. This contains fiction and articles, interviews and columns.
 
The BFS may also publish additional works during the year, and these will also be sent to all members as part of their membership package if it is financially possible for the BFS to do this.

I have been informed this means… if the BFS can not produce the journal on the planned basis, then its not bound by the constitution to extend memberships to accommodate this schedule.

Again, the committee are members who have volunteered to run the society on behalf of all members, and speaking as a member who volunteered at FantasyCon 2002, I too would expect to see four journals a year, which I imagine is why the decision was made to honour the proposed publication schedule.

I imagine the committee will make the same decision again.

One thing is certain, there is not enough room for discussion regarding this subject in a single post and I also feel that Facebook is not always the best way to hold a healthy and positive debate. 

If the society is to survive in the years to follow, there clearly is a need for new members to step up. My biggest fear is that no one will do so, and I can’t help but wonder if part of that will be due to venting on social networks.

Ask yourself the following question, would you take over a vacant role on the BFS committee with prior knowledge that taking said role includes the right to be publicly shamed online based on rumours and/or misinformation (in many cases)?

I also believe that the committee needs to be more forthcoming with updates, which would help lessen the need for venting. We need to eradicate any divide between committee and membership, as we are all one and the same – fans and writers of fantastic fiction, regardless of medium,

++++ THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE SOCIETY OVER THE YEARS, THANKS FOR THE RIDE ++++

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