The story of CHAIN 1977 -2012

by Ron Rowlands


 A ‘Neighbourhood Scheme’

As set out at the public meeting on 16th May 1977, an aspiration of CHAIN’s founders  was to create a network of street wardens to achieve a community in which neighbours would help each other, make newcomers welcome, spread the word about the new volunteer group and so on.

To achieve this, the management committee, appointed a ‘street subcommittee’.  The members were Colin Graham, Jim Kerley, Angela Pomroy, Mary Talbot, Richard Kingsbury and Barbara Simmonds.  The subcommittee met six times between 22nd June and 14th November 1977 to oversee recruitment of volunteers throughout the town to be local neighbourhood stewards.  A small card for the volunteers was designed (see below); presumably to be displayed in the windows of volunteers, but as far as can be ascertained, this was not introduced.

Hungerford was divided into twelve areas and someone appointed to each area to co-ordinate the work of the ‘good neighbours’.  By then the name CHAIN (Care in Hungerford, Action In Need) had been adopted for the new organisation and it was an obvious progression to call the good neighbours ‘Links’. ‘Convener’ was the name given to the area co-ordinator and ‘Links Co-ordinator’ for the main organiser.  From the start until 1985, Angela Pomroy was the main organiser, and she reported at the 1985 Annual General meeting that “close on 100 links had been appointed. She went on to describe the Links as “CHAIN’s heartbeat whose work happens day by day without record”.

Links Coordinators have been:-
1977 to 85   –      Angela Pomroy
1986 to 87   –      Margaret Steer
1987 to 88   –      Dee Anderson & Carol Cartwright
1988 to 92   –      Meg Anthony
1992 to 2000 –   John & Jean Allen
2000 to 05   –    Ron & June Rowland
2005 to 10    –    David & Janet Long
2010   on       –    Kathy &Tyrell Bossom

The ‘good neighbour’ scheme made a good start but maintaining it as originally conceived i.e.,  with a good neighbour every 20 to 30 homes ready to help those in need, welcoming newcomers, etc. was hard to achieve.  From the outset, formation of the neighbourhood scheme was a regular agenda item for the management committee and concerns about lack of progress were often discussed.

Angela Pomroy and her ‘Streets’ subcommittee held meetings of links and conveners to promote the original aims of good neighbours but following one such meeting in 1985  it is reported   “Some conveners are not aware of their role and do not know their links”. The difficulty in obtaining links as community contacts and not just Chain Mail deliverers was highlighted in 1989 when the management committee looked at the original aim to have one link every 20 – 30 houses, and found that most links at that time  had over 50 houses each.

The management committee were tenacious in trying  to achieve their original aim and at a committee meeting on 27th January 1993, sixteen years after CHAIN started, it was recorded that:-

If possible, a way must be found to persuade links to become more than just

Chain Mail deliverers.  Putting names and phone numbers on Chain Mail would help but many not happy about that.  Decided to arrange a meeting with conveners to discuss and enthuse them about original idea of links’.

It was not long after this that it came to be accepted that most links were just CHAIN MAIL deliverers.

However, it would be very wrong to interpret this as failure to achieve the concept of ‘good neighbours’ envisaged in 1977. It is more a recognition that willingness to help others does not easily lend itself to formal arrangements.  Undoubtedly the zeal and enthusiasm shown by the founders of CHAIN, by those who attended the public meeting and by those recruited over the last thirty three years has pervaded the community of Hungerford and there is no sign of it diminishing in any way.

On a positive note.  In general, links are knowledgeable about the work of CHAIN and are able to pass on information to others as necessary.  So, Chain Mail deliverers have been – and still are – valuable ambassadors for CHAIN and can be justifiably described as:-