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Weeks calls on social clubs to work to help young people

Grassroots support: Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security (File photograph)

The Minister for National Security has called on Black clubs and grassroots organisations to join the battle against “the scourge of violence and homelessness that is gripping our community”.

Michael Weeks said that sports and social clubs played a vital role in “holding the social fabric of our country together“ – but needed to attract younger members ”to ensure, that our clubs thrive for another 50-plus years“.

Mr Weeks, a long-standing pillar of Western Stars Sports Club, made his remarks to an audience of social and sports club leaders on Thursday as the guest of Leopards Club International.

The minister said: “Our clubs have a social responsibility in dealing with our societal issues. Most of these young men who are currently in crisis are our young Black men. Many of those growing homeless and unsheltered are our Black families – some with ties to our clubs.

“We have to understand our local needs and see where our club and clubs like us stand. We cannot, in 2022, be oblivious to the scourge of violence and homelessness that is gripping our community. It is time for us to stand, deliver and recognise the role of this club, its members and our sister clubs and their members in the 21st century.

“Those courageous men who built these clubs in a time of hardship and segregation would expect nothing less. We must see where we fit in and accept the role in present-day Bermuda.”

Mr Weeks said the clubs could do everything from holding community meetings, coming up with solutions to this violence, partnering with sister clubs or having a feeding programme for the homeless.

He added: “Before we can act, we need to plan. Before we can plan, we need to understand. Here are a few things that I invite you to consider. We must seek to all do our part to strengthen our Black institutions like the Leopards Club.

“We must find ways to involve our young people, touch and inspire their lives, provide them with the lessons we have learnt and the wisdom we have acquired, and we must do this to encourage them to become a part of the next 50-plus years. This is critical to our survival.

“The belief in a cause greater than ourselves is the bedrock for any calling to public service, be it charitable, philanthropic or political.

“As the challenges that society faces become more and more complex, I believe that a return to simple core principles will provide the grounding that is needed to make our clubs thrive once more and also to achieve the generational impact that our young men and women need and deserve.”

During his presentation, Mr Weeks said that he had a longstanding interest and passion for local clubs which “stems directly from my experience over the years of having found comradeship, brotherhood and sisterhood, wisdom and guidance through my affiliation with this and other clubs”.

He gave his audience a shopping list of recommendations in order for clubs to be more effective and bolster membership.

What clubs must do in order to survive - and thrive

Mr Weeks made the following recommendations to club leaders in order for their organisations to be more effective.

Identify your role. Each club has a charter or a constitution which governs what the club does. Clubs must grasp why and what they exist to do.

Conduct an audit. Find out strengths and weaknesses with a view to strengthening the club’s foundation. All clubs should utilise internal and external assistance to review their current financial state to understand where debt needs to be addressed. Are there concerns about going under? What can correct the situation?

Know the rules. Are the rules that are in place conducive to and supportive of members making use of club facilities? Do the rules reinforce safety and security for members and guests who visit?

Seek out new members. What does your club offer a new member? Have the rules been examined to ensure they are relevant? How does a club cope with a more technological world that has entertainment readily available at home with smartphones and TVs, making many feel they do not need a club? Set a membership target and a committee to assist with getting new members.

Improve benefits. What are the current benefits being offered by the club? Can they be improved on in any way? Are you asking people to join?

Committees. Set up a hosting committee to meet and greet new guests while developing an effective safety committee? The goal of a hosting committee would be to know customers and to be aware of possible danger based on what they see and hear.

Safety first. Examine security and safety – before something goes wrong. Are fire exits clearly shown as regulated with no blockage?

He said: “We need to really drill down on why our clubs are still standing today and take from that reflection some instruction as to how we thrive going forward.

“We cannot afford to be afraid of change and progress, though. We would be doing a disservice to the legacy of our founders if we do not enhance the legacy and footprint of our clubs.

“Back in the day, when these clubs were founded, Bermuda at the time was a racially divided island. Every organisation we can think of was divided as either Black or White. Many of our clubs evolved due to persons being unable to join clubs that were considered ‘White’ only.

“But if we want to attract and retain motivated and capable people in key decision making roles in our clubs, then we need to clearly identify and articulate the ideals and values that we want our clubs to represent.”

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Published April 30, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated April 30, 2022 at 7:50 am)

Weeks calls on social clubs to work to help young people

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