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News and actions for your meeting
QPSW Correspondents mailing
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October 2019

Dear Friend,

Over the past few weeks Quakers have been working exceptionally hard to ensure that our testimonies to peace, equality, integrity and sustainability are an active part of society. Much of the witness we have seen has involved risking arrest or getting arrested, with rolling direct actions to disrupt the DSEI arms fair in London and, a month later, bringing attention to the ongoing climate crisis through the October Rebellion.

Though we do not yet have a final figure for the number of Quakers arrested in recent weeks, it could reach triple digits once October ends. If someone in your meeting has been arrested recently, please let your Area Meeting know so that Meeting for Sufferings can minute their arrest.

The love and support of local meetings makes a powerful difference to people who are dealing with the legal system. Here at QPSW we would love to hear from you about how your meeting is looking after each other during this tumultuous period. As Advices and Queries 36 asks, 'Do you uphold those who are acting under concern, even if their way is not yours?' And if people are feeling upheld, what has helped them? We hope to gather accounts of Quaker communities upholding each other and share them in an article. Please email us your observations!

We know that unity is a complex thing and it requires a great deal from everyone involved when (not if) deeply felt values-based disagreements arise. How do we work through these conflicts, both within our Quaker communities and where we live in Britain? Lisa Cumming of QPSW's Turning the Tide programme is working on creating a toolkit for action that will be of use to anyone experiencing this. It is a work in progress, but we hope to have it ready for meetings to use by the time we get to the next general election, whenever that may be.

For now, I wanted to say thank you for your efforts in communicating QPSW and Quaker work. Last month I was happily inundated with cross-stitched patches covered in messages of love and peace, made by meetings for the DSEI demonstrations. There were hundreds! The day before the demo was spent stitching as many together as possible. Friends pinned some to the fences and hedges around the protest. And all of them will be displayed at the Peace Museum in Bradford in months to come.

I will keep you updated about that – in the meantime, enjoy a few pictures of Quaker resistance to the arms fair, shared below.
In Friendship,

Suki Ferguson
Communications Officer
Quaker Peace & Social Witness

sukif@quaker.org.uk | 0207 663 1191


QPSW news

Sanctuary Everywhere funding appeal a success!

We are delighted to announce that the Sanctuary Everywhere programme will be able to continue into the new year. This has been made possible by Quakers and your generous respondes to our recent fundraising appeal for the programme – over £45,000 has been raised since we launched the appeal in June.

We continue to fundraise in order to meet the target that will enable work to continue right through 2020. If your meeting would like to make a donation, head to the Sanctuary Everywhere page.

Benard Agona of Turning the Tide East Africa visits the UK

Through training community organisers, Benard Agona and his colleagues have supported 30,000 people in developing conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills in communities across Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.

QPSW were delighted to welcome Benard to Britain and to host a panel discussion at Friends House where peace campaigners in the UK were able to learn from his experience. During his visit, Benard was interviewed by BBC Radio Bristol (go to 1.50hrs, 42secs), spoke at a Woodbrooke Conciliation conference, and gave a talk at Huddersfield Quaker Meeting.

Call for government rethink on punitive education

Quakers in Britain are challenging government plans which could emphasise punishments in Britain's classrooms. Instead, Quakers urge a restorative approach, saying that head teachers cannot simply force peace on schools; they need to equip children and young people to be peacemakers. Read the statement here.

QPSW speak at QCEA panel on intractable conflict

Peace education is relevant even in intractable conflicts such as the one in Israel-Palestine. It can foster mutual understanding, dialogue and tolerance as well as transform attitudes and behaviors, thus contributing to a culture of peace.

QPSW is partnering with our sister organisation, Quaker Council for European Affairs, on a new project to promote peace education across Europe and beyond. QCEA recently published a report entitled Peace Education: Making the Case, which promotes a multi-layered approach to peace education. QPSW’s Peace Education Coordinator Ellis Brookes recently joined a panel discussion at their Brussels office to share news of Quaker work on exploring Israel, Palestine and peacebuilding in the British education system.

Book a place at the 2020 QPSW Spring Conference

20-22 March; Swanwick, Derbyshire. £200 all inclusive.

Quaker witness takes many forms – it can be both personal and shared, loud and quiet, lifelong and sporadic, depleting and nourishing. Quaker Peace & Social Witness seeks to support Friends individually in their lives, jointly in their meetings and in Britain Yearly Meeting, to translate our faith into action and to be part of positive movements for social change.

QPSW’s annual conference is a chance to find out how we work in the world on behalf of Friends and how you can get involved. Sharing our stories connects us and deepens our understanding of our witness. Tell us how we can best support you and your meeting.

You will have the opportunity to meet staff who deliver the programmes of work, including peace education, EAPPI, Turning the Tide in Britain and East Africa and climate justice. You will learn how work is discerned and overseen by Friends, reflect on what you have heard and get to know Quakers from around Britain.

The Conference is particularly aimed at:

  • QPSW Correspondents
  • New Friends/Attenders
  • Those new to the work of QPSW
Register to attend the Spring Conference


Opportunities & actions

Sharing Quaker values: how to prepare for a general election

General elections are an opportunity to influence future decision-makers. Grace Da Costa, Political Advocacy and Engagement Officer, shares how to get involved. 'Although a general election hasn't been called yet, it's likely that one will happen soon, so we need to start trying to influence the people who might win.' Read Grace's tips here.

Share the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network epistle

In September the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network (QARN), who work closely with QPSW’s Sanctuary Everywhere programme, met to envision a world that is open to all. This gathering of more than 60 people, many with lived experience of the UK immigration system, worked together to better understand how we can change it.

Here is a part of the epistle from the weekend.

'Militarism and violent conflict have no place in our vision for the future, nor have many of our institutions such as immigration detention, nor this official policy that creates a structurally violent and hostile environment. Language must change.

From space, the earth has no borders. Borders are an artificial construct. Money, power and the internet all move around the world, but many people cannot.

Love is our guide. We have experienced over this weekend the way in which poetry, art, music, dance and singing release the love in our hearts and bring us together to learn and unlearn. Let’s be open to what love can do within each of us.

We invite you to join us in making a difference with hope and amplified voices, and to walk with unconditional love in our hearts.'

Order free printed leaflets about land rights and Quakerism

The Quaker Land Value Tax group has been researching the role of land in Britain's economy for the past two years. Using a QPSW new economy grant, they have now published a fantastic resource that is free to all: a four-page leaflet detailing why land matters, and how Quakers can support a shift towards equality and community ownership.

To order free copies for your meeting, please contact Olivia Hanks at neweconomy@quaker.org.uk.

Video: Quakers and Climate Change Around the World

Quakers from the Philippines and Kenya share their experiences of climate change and how their Quaker faith inspires them to take action. 'We feel it. Everyone feels it.'

Share this 08.38-minute film with your meeting to help illustrate the need for climate justice in how we respond to climate breakdown.


News from meetings

After the arms fair: a Quaker from Bradford Meeting reflects

Bradford Quaker Rosie Horsley joined a day of faith-led action outside one of the world's biggest arms fairs. Here she shares what happened next.

'When I alighted from the rail transport outside the arms fair venue, ExCel London, I quickly found myself on the end of a Catholic procession. We slowly made our way through to the silent gathering of Quakers who stood 300-strong in the road to the venue, placards aloft and peaceful faces resolute. I learned that the roads had been held since early in the morning by strong collective action. A small number of purposeful folk are mighty: the hard work of Roots of Resistance had brought the collective passion of many.'

Salisbury Quakers counter military celebrations with peace event

Back in June, Salisbury city hosted a three-day celebration of all things military. Kathrine Sealey shares how Salisbury Quakers provided a peaceful counterpoint by creating a space for contemplation, education and community in their meeting house. Read their story of witness.

Henley Quakers help their town remember victims of all wars

By running a stall to sell white poppies, Henley Quakers are sharing a message of peace in their town centre on Sunday 13 October. Their planned outreach efforts have been reported in a local newspaper, Henley Herald.

What might your meeting do as Remembrance Sunday approaches? If you'd like to stock up on white poppies, you can look up Quaker meetings that are selling them on the Peace Pledge Union website. To order some free peace materials from QPSW, please contact Sahdya Darr at sahdyad@quaker.org.uk.

Share news or a perspective from your meeting

What news might your meeting like to share through this mailing? Get in touch! You can:
  1. Write an article about your meeting's concern and action for publication on the BYM website. This is a good way to share your news with a wide range of readers. Just email it in a Word format to sukif@quaker.org.uk.
  2. Forward your area meeting or local meeting newsletter to me at sukif@quaker.org.uk. I always read these and will share relevant items where I can.
  3. Write a letter to QPSW with news of what your meeting has been working on as part of their Quaker witness. Attach a photograph if you have one, and include your return address. Please post to: Suki Ferguson, Friends House 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ.
Thanks for reading! 
The next QPSW Correspondents mailing will be sent in January 2020. News of witness can also be found on the Quakers in Britain blog: www.quaker.org.uk/blog.
If you would like to send comments or update your meeting's Correspondent contact details, please email sukif@quaker.org.uk.
Further Quakers in Britain newsletters
Share these links with members of your meeting who would like detailed news to be sent straight to their inbox.

Quaker faith in action: register for monthly Quaker witness news and actions
EAPPI: register for updates from the Ecumenical Programme in Palestine and Israel
Peace education cluster: register for Quaker peace educator news
Quake!: register for monthly round-ups from Britain Yearly Meeting.
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