The Lambeth Conference isn’t just a story of Bishops and the ‘great and good’. One of the largest groups of people around on the campus is the 300 volunteers from Canterbury Diocese – they are the ones with the yellow lanyards and/or sashes.
Their contribution will pass by unnoticed by the world’s media, who are looking for more contentious stories, but without it the Lambeth Conference would have been “an unholy mess” as one of the volunteer coordinators put it. They are the smiling faces on the Enquiry Desk, the ‘human signposts’ who make sure that delegates (and others) can find their way round the University campus, the people who keep the queues moving in the restaurants and many, many other duties.
Most of the 300 people took their diaries, drew a big ‘x’ across the three weeks of the Conference and said “What can I do?”. People like Rosemary, ‘The Woolie Lady’, who has been overseeing the packing and distribution of the results of a Diocesan appeal for warm clothing, in addition to her shifts as part of the Enquiry Desk team.
The Volunteers’ motto has been “How can I help you?” and the staff on the Enquiry Desk are just as likely to be asked where a Bishop can get their glasses fixed as anything about the conference programme!
Spare a thought for them as they have all said that they will miss the work when the Conference is over and without them the admin wouldn’t have run so smoothly.
You can see what the volunteers have been up to at their website at http://tinyurl.com/5e4yek