Freely Given Retreats is a charity run solely by volunteers who want to generously give their time to organise retreats that can be offered freely to anyone. Help is always gratefully received and below are some of the ways in which you can get involved with the charity by offering your time and skills, rather than money.
Opening / Closing Day Volunteer
This role can cover either or both of the opening day and closing day of the retreat. Below are the jobs that would be shared out amongst the team on each day, and your help with any of them would be greatly appreciated. Some of these require a certain amount of heavy lifting.
- Collecting (pre-ordered) fruit and veg – usually takes the whole of one estate car
- Collecting mats / cushions / dry goods from Buckfastleigh – additional large estate car or van required
- Picking up teacher(s) and/or assistant co-ordinator from the train station
- Laying out the meditation hall
- Organising food stocks in the kitchen
- Cooking the light evening meal
- Meeting and greeting retreatants
Depending which tasks you were able to help with, the earliest you would be needed is 11am and the latest you would finish is 6pm, at which point you’d be very welcome to stay for the evening meal.
- Recording and packing away any remaining food stocks
- Packing up everything in the meditation hall
- Transporting everything back to Buckfastleigh for storage – two estate cars preferable
- Driving teacher(s) and/or assistant co-ordinator to the train station
Depending on the venue we’re using, you would be needed either between 7.30am and 11am, or 12.30pm and 4pm (either way the shift starts with a meal – breakfast or lunch).
Retreat Co-ordinator / Cook
During the retreat the two co-ordinators share or support each other with all of the cooking. Numbers are usually around 22, but this is not as daunting as it might sound. All the veg is prepared by retreatants during the morning work period and there is a recipe guide at hand as we use the same menu on every retreat (this enables us to order food more efficiently and minimise waste). Working together the whole thing is actually fairly straightforward.
The afternoon period and evenings are generally available for rest or meditation practice, with both co-ordinators normally able to dip in and out of the retreat.
This role is usually filled by one of the trustees but we would love for others with appropriate experience and skills to take this on also, for example an ex-Gaia House co-ordinator or someone who has run other types of retreats or workshops. Below are the list of responsibilities that come with the role:
- Being the general point of contact for retreatants before/during/after the retreat
- Processing bookings, accomplished very simply using a Gmail account and our email templates
- Being present for the whole retreat
- Cooking the meals together with the assistant co-ordinator
- Responding to any questions or difficulties that arise for the retreatants or the teacher(s)
Ideally the lead co-ordinator would be available from 11am on the opening day of the retreat to 4pm on the closing day.
Below are the responsibilities that come with this role. Experience of cooking for bigger groups isn’t necessary, but if you are confident with doing so that would be of great value to us.
- Being present for the whole retreat
- Cooking the meals together with the lead co-ordinator
- Possibly doing a run to the shops if anything unexpected is needed (and you can drive!)
Ideally the assistant co-ordinator would be available from 3-4pm on the opening day of the retreat until 3pm on the closing day, although leaving earlier should also be possible.
We are a small and friendly team of five trustees at present, all living in South Devon. We would love to welcome a couple more people into the group. Anyone wishing to be a trustee should be particularly interested in the ideals of generosity and providing retreats for all regardless of financial situation. We are primarily focused on running retreats that are aligned with the Insight Meditation tradition, so some experience of being on retreat in this environment is preferable. It may be that attending one of our retreats, or volunteering first in another of the above roles, may be helpful when deciding whether you’d be interested in becoming a trustee. Here’s an idea of what the role entails:
- Being directly involved in running the charity, organising the retreat schedule, and running retreats
- Meeting every six weeks on an evening in South Devon (joining by Skype also possible) to discuss the above, along with any financial business, or larger questions such as how we want to evolve the charity
- Corresponding by email between meetings, to deal with small business items and reduce the load on meeting agendas
- Although not a requirement, we hope that trustees are willing to be involved in helping to run one retreat a year – see Lead Co-ordinator role above