In her address and introduction to the British Naturism Vision Day, Chairman Judith Stinchcombe gave a whistle-stop tour of activity in BN and looked forward to the future
There’s a lot of good things going on in and around BN - though we still have our challenges. Here’s what’s happening…
It’s important to provide members and non-members with easy opportunities to actually practice Naturism and our event programme is a crucial part of it. We’ve appointed an events manager who has hit the ground running and improved events this year and planned for the future with more - and more diverse - events. The great news is that they will all be announced before the end of this year so that people can plan.
The BN Members’ holidays are becoming ever more popular and a valuable membership benefit. Thanks to BN sponsor Chalfont Holidays for organising them for us - at no cost to BN. Like the BN events the programme is expanding and there are already 11 holidays arranged for 2018, all of which will also be launched this year.
The media continues to pay us attention. Our Great British Skinny Dip (GBSD) documentary was aired in February and we know people joined because of it. The GBSD campaign - aimed at changing attitudes - and septembare has just ended and whilst it is still in its formative years, feedback has been good with a number of venues already planning their 2018 event - and one pool considering a regular Naturist event. The Goldsmith’s research by Dr Keon West that Naturism is good for you went global and we made hay from it.
We launched the New Member Experience Programme, aimed at encouraging new members to stay in membership by paying more attention to them with a series of messages on a variety of subjects emailed to them regularly, and punctuated by surveys every few months. Reminders to those whose membership is coming to an end has also been improved. We won’t know the success of it until next year but we’re hopeful.
Membership numbers are closer to the previous year end than since 2001 - we’ve recruited cover 850 new members in 2017 and only need around 100 more people to see the total increase year on year. Please keep spreading the word. We’ve brought in ways to help you do that by launching the ‘Just One Person’ campaign and producing the new ‘Join Us’ poster leaflet, available from the BN shop.
Having Phil Hughes on the EC as the new Finance Director which has made a huge difference, our finance set up is now stronger with new budget controls and an accounts system that can be accessed by all the EC.
The EC are working on a new strategy for the organisation. We decided to do a ‘root and branch’ review and so it’s going to take time, but it’s essential that we take notice of what’s happening not only in Naturism but the wider world and align ourselves accordingly. There are no sacred cows!
Amongst our challenges is the lack of people in the membership willing to play an active part. We’re grateful to those that do, but we’re struggling, even at EC level, to find people to take on the tasks that we need if we are to continue to perform. I’m delighted to say that Jane Baker has agreed to become our new Volunteer Co-ordinator and support volunteers, and to encourage more to come forward. We expect good things.
We’re still lacking a families officer - it’s so important for us to start educating the next generation and to provide more to families in Naturism. On the plus side, YBN is enjoying a resurgence and we are putting in time and effort to help. There will be a YBN presence at EC level from now on.
Many thanks to Peter and Christine Wright, the volunteers who head up our legal team, who have been doing some great work. Their latest case involved helping a BN member prosecuted for driving naked through a city centre. Thanks to BN’s intervention, he was acquitted. Remember that BN was consulted by Parliament early this century and it led to Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act excluding Naturists from being identified as ‘Flashers’. Sadly, this is still largely not understood by the police, but this case serves to amplify that simply seeing a naked person does not make for an offence.
Another serious challenge is that BN member clubs and swims remain reluctant to allow access to all and it hampers our progress, We have nothing to hide or shy away from and yet that is often the message newcomers get. BN has an open door attitude which must be adopted by everyone if we are to realise our full potential.