Quaker Peace and Social Witness July

Urgent action: Write to your MP about Susiya demolitions

Many Friends will have been following the plight of the village of Susiya in the southern West Bank. At the beginning of May, the Israeli High Court ruled that officials could carry out demolition orders on the entire village, forcibly – and illegally – transferring over 250 people from the place in which they have lived since before the Israeli occupation began in 1967.

A team of Ecumenical Accompaniers has been living in the village ahead of the demolition providing protective presence and monitoring the situation. On July 12, Israeli officials confirmed to the residents that the demolition would take place before August 3, the date the Israeli High Court was due to hear a petition from the villagers.

The situation is now urgent. EAPPI UK & Ireland has drafted a letter/email for Friends and supporters to write to their MP to ask them to act urgently to prevent the demolition.

If you would like to take action, you can find the letter along with background information by visiting the EAPPI UK & Ireland website LINK HERE

 Take action to defend our social security system

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which was published late last week, proposes a further £12 billion of cuts to our social security system and would have a particular effect on children, large families and people who are unable to work because of sickness or disability.

Why take action?

Coming on top of the £21 billion of cuts legislated for under the last Parliament the proposals will increase already unacceptably high levels of poverty and inequality in Britain. The government has presented the proposed cuts as an exercise in affordability and is also claiming that many of the measures will somehow serve to increase social mobility and tackle the root causes of poverty framing the debate in narrow financial considerations.  Quakers in Britain disagrees with both of these suggestions!

Tuesday’s debate was the first opportunity for MPs to debate the Bill as a whole and that session is likely to set the tone for the rest of the Bill’s passage through Parliament.  It’s important that the debate focusses on why we need an effective social security system and emphasises the human and social costs of the proposed cuts and other changes.

Some MPs are suggesting that they are considering supporting further welfare cuts because this is what the public wants.  It’s therefore vital that as many MPs as possible hear that this is not the case and are encouraged to speak out against those elements of the Bill which would further weaken our social safety net.

What can I do?

Send an email to your MP, highlighting some of our concerns about the Bill and drawing their attention to the Quakers in Britain briefing on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
You could use
the briefing to help frame your arguments.  If you have personal experience which is relevant to the proposals being discussed do consider sharing it as this will strengthen your message.

MPs are much more likely to listen to personally written letters than standard templates. Here are some suggestions about what you could include in your email.  If you already know what your MP thinks about further social security cuts here are suggestions about how you could adapt your message accordingly

General points:

  • The last round of social security cuts has already had a disastrous impact on individuals and families across Britain.  Now is not the time to be making further cuts.
  • The welfare section of the Bill will further increase already unacceptable levels of poverty, economic and social inequality.
  • The government is presenting further welfare cuts as an inevitable consequence of the deficit.   In fact, there is nothing inevitable about further weakening our social security system.  It is a political choice.

 If your MP is opposed to the proposed cuts or you don’t know their opinion you could:

  • Ask them to oppose any further cuts which will further weaken our social safety net.
  • Ask them to take part in the Second Reading debate on 20th July and to ensure there is a full debate about the human and social costs of the proposed changes.  The debate should not purely be framed by narrow financial considerations.
  • Ask them to let you know their opinion of the welfare measures contained within the Bill.

If you know your MP is in favour of further social security cuts you could:

  • Emphasise the fact that depending on benefits is not a lifestyle choice but the inescapable reality for millions of adults and children.
  • Highlight that many children are living in families which receive benefits, and that this Bill would effectively punish them for simply being born.
  • Emphasise how an effective social safety net, based on the principle of need, is a vital foundation of a just and compassionate society. Proposals to dismantle this further raises uncomfortable questions about our values as a society.
  • Suggest that the government’s arguments that withdrawing benefits will tackle the root causes of poverty and create work incentives are flawed. The proposals in this Bill are not practical.
  • Ask them to reconsider their support for the specific proposals highlighted in our briefing.

If you don’t know your MP’s email address you can find it on the Write To Them website

Don’t forget! Please let Maya Williams know when you have emailed your MP and to send us a copy of any reply you receive.  Contact mayaw@quaker.org.uk

This will help us to understand how MPs are responding to our concerns and help us plan further action around this Bill.

You can also find all this information online at 

Quaker Activist Gathering Friends House
21 November 2015

For a second year, Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) is organising an activist gathering at Friends House.
An action-focused day for Friends who identify as activists, framed in worship. An opportunity to meet with others, connect, learn, plan and be energised and inspired. Book now, and tell us what you would like from the day - we'll use your feedback to help inform how we shape the agenda.

"A chance to feel connected to others who shared my values and concerns."

The event is no cost to attend. Lunch will be 'bring and share'.
register online by 15 October.

"Very heartwarming and helped to contact those well-springs which can sometimes seem low."


Early July Notices

Most of the links go to PDF documents of varying size.

CIRcular -  issue 33 LINK
A newsletter produced by Quaker Committee for Christian & Interfaith Relations for Friends either interested or involved in local ecumenical and interfaith work. This issue concentrates on Quaker/Muslim relations

The Young Quaker No 9 May 2015 LINK
In this issue – how to start a Young Friends group in your town, Young Quakers in Peru, and thoughts on the General Election

Junior Yearly Meeting epistle
Junior Yearly Meeting (JYM) took place this year as a part of Yearly Meeting (YM). The JYM epistle was included in the YM minutes that were circulated to all meetings after YM.
LINK to JYM epistle along with some other information and photo

New QPSW Climate Justice Flyer – for engagement and discussion
Please use this flyer [ LINK ] to share, spark discussion, and display in your meeting and elsewhere. Have you engaged with your MP since the election? You could send them this as way of a welcome.
More flyers and supporting resources are available. If any requests can go to Maura she will arrange to get more.

Disinvest to reinvest – investing for a just economy
Saturday 17 October 2015, Friends House, London
An event to explore faith & fnance, considering how money can be disinvested from fossil fuels and redirected into positive, sustainable investments. LINK
This is in partnership with Operation Noah faith-motivated, science-informed, hope-inspired: a ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus and insoiration in response to the growing threats of climate change LINK

QPSW Sustainability and New Economy Grants Have you got an idea for a project focused on building the new economy? Does your meeting have a particular concern around sustainability?
Grants available from £100 - £2,000 for a sustainability project or a project that builds a more just economic world. Projects can be organised by your local or area meeting, or could be a project that your meeting supports. Application deadline 14 September. Guidance notes and application forms: LINK

Find Out About Quakers
23–25 October 2015, Charney Manor, Oxon OX12 0EJ
If you are new to Quakers and want to explore Quaker worship and witness further, join a small group of experienced facilitators from the Quaker Quest team. The cost is £181 inclusive. LINK to a flyer. Also see the main Charney Manor website for more information on the venue and other courses.
Meetings can consider supporting those who cannot afford the whole cost
Information on subscriptions to Quaker Voices a bimonthly newsletter from Quaker Life LINK

New Expressions Gathering
16–18 October 2015, High Leigh Conference Centre, Hertfordshire
A reminder about this opportunity to learn more about the new resource from Quaker Life. Information & booking form: LINK

Hiroshima Day – Interfaith Service of Commemoration and Commitment
6 August 2015, Friends House, London
Friends are invited to attend the national interfaith service of commemoration and commitment for a nuclear free world on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Please come and encourage others you know of different faiths to join you. LINK to more information
Also a LINK to Interfaith statement “An End to Nuclear Weapons” – you can follow links for more information

Objections to war: a Quaker approach
September 2015 to end of 2016
Quaker speakers will be offering talks to meetings on Objections to war: a Quaker approach, to mark 100 years since conscientious objection to military service was enshrined in British law (coming up in early 2016). Talks are offered from September 2015 to the end of 2016.
Each speaker will be able to offer a 1.5-hour learning session on ‘Objections to war: a Quaker approach’. Drawing on visual and written archives and present-day reports, the session will comprise:
a presentation on the range of opposition to warfare by Quakers and others, past and present
a reflective activity, for participants to engage with the realities of acting on conscience & conviction.
Books of the Month LINK

Monthly Mailing of  upcoming courses & events at Woodbrooke: LINK

Friends House [London] Hospitality Ltd 214 company review LINK
This highlights some of the achievements of 2014 including the opening of the refurbished Large Meeting House, Swarthmore Hall refurbishments, financial information of the company