Social Justice Forum, 5th meeting, November 2016

Social Justice Forum, fifth meeting, 26 November 2016.
Twelve people came, including Father Nigel (who had to leave for another meeting at 10.30) and Claudine. Two people had to leave after the first half. Twelve people sent apologies including Christopher.
The handout is available on the St Anne’s web site, as are the other four handouts and the records of our meetings.

First half of meeting: study and prayer

After introductions, we opened with a liturgy. We divided into pairs to look at extracts from:
1. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report (3 August 2016) on the Migration Crisis;
2. Pope Francis’ message for the 2017 world Day of Migrants and Refugees;
3. 2016 report from the UNHCR representative in Syria.
We followed this with silent prayer and reflection.
Second half of meeting: action

Marian Mollett introduced and chaired a session on Drawing up a statement of commitment/witness/declaration for St Anne’s around refugees. We had three statements to examine (so far as we know, no statement has been issued by the Church of England):

1. St Martin in the Fields Date: September 2015  – Scope: Migration Purpose: Education/witness

2. Faith leaders letter to Government Date: July 2016   – Scope: Response to refugees Purpose:  Lobbying

3. Southwark Diocese Faith and Community Assembly Date:  October 2016  – Scope: Diversity in London Purpose   Our response –
We divided into threes to examine these statements with a number of questions and then came together with our answers:

Questions  and Answers
Question 1. What is the point of a statement? What is the connection between words and action?   Answer: A statement of what we believe that guides our behaviour/actions

Question 2. Should we write our own statement, tweak one of the three statements, or adopt one of the three?  Answer: We should adopt the Southwark statement with a short preamble using St Anne’s ‘strapline’.

Question 3. If we prepare a declaration, what should we do with it?  Answer: Suggestions included: flyers, web site, notice board, the opportunity for individuals to sign up; a launch event; sharing with CTIK, Deanery and Diocese; a feature in The Bridge; an invitation to the Mayor of London to visit us

Question 4. How will we make it a reality?  Answer” We valued point 6 in the Southwark statement – “We commit to living out this Declaration in our own life, in our teaching and preaching and in our community engagement.” Specifically, through our links with Breaking Barriers, CARAS and Refugee Action Kingston and through our prayers & reflections.

We will ask the PCC to consider this at their February meeting.

We then talked briefly about our links to refugee organisations. Sue Lloyd is volunteering with Sally Cannon at Breaking Barriers and they both think that BB are developing well as an organisation and that we should try and recruit more volunteers in the New Year. Claudine had visited Eleanor (Elly) Brown, the new Director of CARAS and had been delighted to find that CARAS were in touch with Breaking Barriers. Elly had suggested an evening meeting at St Anne’s when she and one of her staff could come and answer any questions we might have about refugees and about how systems work here and what happens to refugees in this country and we agreed that it would be helpful. Claudine will consult Father Nigel with a view to arranging a meeting in 2017. Elly is looking at the governance aspects of CARAS and will let Claudine know if there is any professional help that they might need on an occasional basis. Marjorie Evans had had a formal interview with Refugee Action Kingston and hopes to help at a new centre in Surbiton.

Dates for diary
Next Social Justice Forum meetings: 11 February, 20 May.
Next Refugees Welcome in Richmond meeting: 11 January, 7.30pm, venue to be confirmed
19-25 June: Refugee Week.
Claudine McCreadie 30 November 2016.