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Follow-up to the Ride for Equality and the Common Good

Published on: Published on: Monday 26 Nov 2018

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We hope you will have seen articles in Quaker publications about the Ride 4 Equality and the Common Good this summer from Swarthmoor to London. This was a witness to our concern about the suffering caused by welfare cuts and a wish to affirm that “We CAN afford to care for all”. We now hope to expand this witness.

This seems particularly important in the light of the recent statement by Philip Austin, the UN Envoy investigating poverty in the UK: he concluded that “The UK Government’s policies and drastic cuts to social support are entrenching high levels of poverty and inflicting unnecessary misery in one of the richest countries in the world” and that ministers are “in a state of denial” over the extent of poverty in Britain.

Postcard Stories and Gathering More

Before and during the Ride this summer we gathered over 100 stories on postcards which record the impact of the cuts on vulnerable people as well as celebrate what has been achieved by the public sector and welfare systems since World War 2. We have committed to share these with MPs. But there are many more such stories waiting to be gathered. Working with Meetings across the country we hope to collect at least 1000 and join with other organisations who are trying to ensure that those who are feeling that their needs are no longer deemed important are given a voice.

We hope to make visible all the stories shared with us as follows:
a. The cards will be carefully copied so that we can share one copy with MPs and retain a second copy for an exhibition initially in Kendal Meeting and perhaps later in other places. We are still in discussion about how to most effectively share the cards with MPs. It may be at a local level through local Friends and/or through lobbying Parliament on a particular day in the spring.

b. Quotes from the cards are being typed up, ensuring confidentiality, and are being shared on our Facebook page and posted on our new website Ilink Below) which shares the thinking about our concern and photos from the Ride.

We have enclosed our newly designed postcards. Please consider how you might reach out to your own community to gather stories that could be shared.
a) You could enquire amongst members of the Meeting about whether they have been impacted by cuts or whether they have wider family members who have and would be willing to share and have their stories displayed and presented to MPs.

b) You could approach one of the organisations which work with vulnerable people in your community and ask if there is anyone who has been impacted by recent cuts who would be willing to talk with you. You can then add a summary on a card. Organisations you might approach are food banks, groups working with the homeless and Christmas Shelter events.

c) You could arrange a local For the Common Good meeting and invite people who work with the local community to come to share some of their experiences. Again you can add summaries on the cards.

d) You could, like Aberyswyth Friends, have a stall in your town with postcards on it to collect stories to send to us with a petition on it too. You might then present the petition along with typed copies of the postcard stories to your MP with the Declaration and evidence which we can email to you on request

e) You could give witness to the concern in a one off or regular vigil, as Huddersfield Friends are considering.

For those completing postcards, please ensure that either they are anonymous, or, if signed, that the signatory consents to their name being shared.

Postcards can be posted to us individually or returned together in an envelope. The return address is on the postcard. If Quakers could cover the cost of stamps, rather than those completing the postcards, that would be helpful. If you are also able to make a financial contribution towards the printing of the postcards, please send to the Treasurer for Kendal and Sedbergh Area Meeting, Kendal Quaker Meeting House, Stramongate, Kendal LA9 4BH.

More postcards can be acquired through emailing a request to and sending a cheque to cover postage to the address on the postcard or by ordering directly from the printer:

Details for ordering the A5 full colour postcards

and you can order as follows:

1000 - £84.00
500 - £65.00
250 - £46.50

Other Next Steps

There are some complex issues around the welfare state and no easy answers. However we think it is vitally important that our communities discuss the issues and that Quakers and people like ourselves, who are often in positions of privilege, take time to think about our own role and about what we want for our communities and how this can be achieved.

You may want to organise a meeting to think about what a Quaker perspective has to say about the issues.

Here are some potential questions that could be explored through discussion:
In the face of growing inequalities in our communities,
i) What can I do?
ii) What can our meeting do?
iii) Who do I/we want to work with?
iv) Which issues do I/we find most challenging when it comes to welfare?
v) What would a newly envisioned welfare system look like and why?

v) What would a newly envisioned welfare system look like and why? We can recommend two recent books for you that provide thought-provoking reading:
Darren McGarvey: Poverty Safari: Understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass (2017)
Hilary Cottam: Radical Help: How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state (2018)

There is also a renewed interest around the country in the clear documented research on the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) on long term physical and mental health of children and adults. It is quite clear that adversity in childhood has long term serious and expensive impact. We also recommend the recent documentary film Resiliency by Nadine Burke Harris. This short You tube clip describes this work:

Finally we would be grateful if someone in your meeting would be interested in being a link person with us. If so, could they email us so we have a contact in the meeting –

We hope we can work together in giving a voice to those who are not being heard.
In friendship,
Cathy Betoin and Sally Ingham

On behalf of Kendal and Sedbergh Area Meeting: Group For Equality and the Common Good

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