Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Sustainability and peace job vacancy


Quaker Peace & Social Witness

Sustainability & Peace Programme Manager

£32,799 – £37,638 (2009 rates)

A three year post, to be reviewed after two years. In this post
you would work with and on behalf of Quakers in Britain to
strengthen our commitment to environmental sustainability.
You would deliver a Quaker contribution on the underlying
human and economic causes of environmental degradation,
and on its effects on the most vulnerable.

The post will have a particular focus on the violent conflict
which can both result from and worsen such degradation.
You would undertake advocacy at national and global levels
and work to empower local Quakers to campaign effectively.
You would provide Quaker meetings with support as they
strive to reduce their carbon emissions.

You would need to have:
• Commitment to and ability to implement Quaker approaches
to peacebuilding and environmental issues
• Strong grounding in relevant discipline(s)
• Analytic and strategic skills
• Collaborative approach

Post based in Friends House, central London.
Closing date: 15 January 2010. Interviews expected 27 January.

Full details at or email

HR Dept, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ.

Registered charity number 1127633.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

MBDA cleaning up their act?

The Guardian reported yesterday that the 10:10 campaign - aiming to get organisations to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% in 2010 - had accepted missile-manufacturer MBDA's wish to sign up.  10:10 had previously rejected an application from Manchester Airport, on the basis that it's main activity and aims are to encourage more air travel.   

Many of the missiles and weaponry produced by MBDA, apart from being lethal and (in my opinion) morally repugnant - are entirely dependent for their useage on a military machine that burns fossil fuels like there was no tomorrow.  I've not heard of solar-powered fighter jets or tanks running off chip-fat yet.  

So MBDA is just as mutually dependent on a fossil-fuel-consuming-carbon-dioxide-emitting way of behaving as Manchester airport is.  The one difference is that neither Manchester airport, nor the airlines that use it market products that are "...small, lightweight and easy to use and will provide an unprecedented mix of lethality and mobility". 

I'm sorry 10:10, but if it was a choice between the two, I know which I'd go for.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Afghanistan - different type of surge advocated

The open letter, from Jim Wallis and others to Barack Obama and published today, is well worth a read.  In it they write:

"We believe that after eight years of war we need a whole new approach in Afghanistan. And we respectfully and prayerfully suggest to you a different strategy that we would name: the humanitarian and development surge."

and pointing out that

"The collateral damage of our technological war has already been great, resulting in many civilian deaths, further alienating the populace and, inadvertently, producing even more angry young recruits for terrorism."

Let's hope the President reads this and takes serious note of the thoughtful and important message.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Wider networks

Just back in the office catching up today after a hard-working weekend in Belgium - the rather splendid old abbey in Kortenberg being our venue.  There's a short a report and photos of the meeting at:

Sometimes these meetings can feel a bit in need of direction.  There was a strong sense of purposefulness on this occasion though.  We live in challenging times, and, as Marisa writes in her report:

"We contemplated the dark clouds that continue to haunt our world – the threats of global change, high tech wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, continuing tensions in many parts of Africa and, closer to home, the rise of intolerance, xenophobia and violence towards immigrants.

"In worship, we drew strength from George Fox’s own experience that the Ocean of Light flows over the ocean of darkeness, and that, when we let our life speak, we can be like crystals in a chandelier, letting the Light shine through, reflecting it and refracting it to the world around us."

Monday, 2 November 2009

Northern Friends Peace Board statement on Afghanistan

As our Executive Committee met on 24th October, people were marching in London to call for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan. The committee minuted:

We unite with others in expressing our deep distress and disquiet at the continuing loss of life, amongst Afghans and NATO personnel, in Afghanistan. The displacement of people and the social and psychological harm – on top of physical injury – that arises from armed conflict such as this will have long-term damaging consequences for all concerned.

We urge the UK government to do all it can to bring to a cessation its involvement in this violent conflict; a conflict which many analysts now conclude is unwinnable and is worsening - rather than contributing to - global peace and security. We recognise that the UK does have a commitment to supporting reconstruction in the region and support this intent. The security needed to allow such reconstruction, however, can surely only be sustainable when it has come from dialogue and reconciliation rather than from the barrel of a gun.

We know that our government now faces very great dilemmas in finding a way forward and that this will not be easy or simple. We call for the urgent withdrawal of British and other foreign troops from Afghanistan, allowing the people of that country to find their own way of building a peaceful, just and secure society.

24th October 2009

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Un/Armed Forces ....

Sorry for the prolonged absence of postings - it's been a busy few months!

To get the ball rolling again, here's a press release from Quakers:

News Release
22 June 2009
Quakers call for Unarmed Forces Day

As the government prepares for its first 'Armed Forces Day', Quakers are busy preparing themselves for peace. In recognition of the essential work carried out by peacebuilders around the world, Quakers in Britain are calling for an Unarmed Forces Day.

Quakers believe that each person is uniquely valuable. They reject the view that governments’ responses to the inevitable tensions arising from international relations should be to constantly upgrade weapons and to train in readiness for war. Instead, Quakers advocate putting energies and resources into developing and training for non-military ways of solving conflicts and averting wars.

Kat Barton of Quaker Peace and Social Witness says "It is widely agreed that conflict prevention is more cost-effective than sending in the armed forces. At a time when public finances are under enormous pressure, instead of celebrating 'Armed Forces Day' Gordon Brown should be investing in conflict prevention and championing the work of the ‘unarmed forces’ who work tirelessly to build the conditions for peace."

Quakers believe that there is always a choice between working for war and working for peace. They work, locally, nationally and internationally to address the root causes of violence, conflict and insecurity, to promote non-violent approaches to work for peace, justice and social change, to support peacebuilding and peacemaking in areas of violent conflict and to promote disarmament.

Quaker work in Britain includes providing school children with the skills to deal with conflict, working with communities in the north of England to tackle racism and build peace, and supporting the next generation of workers in peacebuilding organisations. British Quakers work overseas to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their nonviolent actions, to support local peacebuilding organisations in Burundi and to create non-violent peaceful solutions to often bitter and entrenched local conflicts in South Asia.


Media Information Anne van Staveren 0207 663 1048

Notes to the Editor:

· Armed Forces Day (Saturday 27 June) is a new government initiative to raise the public profile of the armed forces. The Armed Forces Day website describes it as "an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community".

· Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) works with, and on behalf of Quakers in Britain to translate faith into action. See

· Northern Friends Peace Board is an organisation of Quakers in the north of Britain set up to support ‘the active promotion of peace in all its height and breadth’. See

· QPSW manages the UK section of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)

· Peace resources for Armed Forces Day can be found at

· Quakers are known formally as The Religious Society of Friends.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Building Peace - Tackling Racism - part 3

We're just over a week away from our next event on this theme - the third in three years - and have also now just published the DVD and accompanying booklet from last year's. We've been very encouraged by the responses so far and look forward to seeing how it's reviewed.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Summer of .... compassion?

Well, it seems, on closer inspection, that the G20 demonstrations are what the Met's David Hartshorn had in mind when warning about the 'Summer of rage'. The World Development Movement has responded () vigorously:
"This ill-considered outburst from the Metropolitan police is yet another example of a distasteful habit of crying wolf about peaceful protest.
"These remarks are insulting to the hundreds of thousands of voters who exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression."

Likewise, a TUC spokeswoman is quoted in the Morning Star :
"This will be a peaceful march for jobs and economic justice. It is provocative and outrageous to suggest that the thousands of people who will be attending the march are intent on any kind of confrontation."

There may well be anger, but surely Putting People First and seeking an end to War is above all about compassion. Let's work with compassion and urgency- these times call for both - and not be distracted by police alarm calls.

Monday, 23 February 2009

More change in the air...?

Further to my earlier post, I've now found out about this even wider coalition gathering on the Saturday before the G20 meeting in London:

Put People First: March for jobs, justice and climate ahead of the London G20 Summit

They say: "Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental. Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future."

And similarly, they're hoping to have regional events around the country to get people mobilised for the march itself.

I don't imagine Superintendent David Hartshorn had this particular event in mind when anticipating a 'summer of rage' , but it does feel as though something significant may be in the offing. Is the current state of economic chaos going to make the governments and their leaders more able to hear the depth and breadth of the passion rather than be made deaf and fearful by such news stories?

Change in the air?

The Stop the War Coalition seems to be preparing to pull out all the stops over the next couple of months, with a road show of some of their best-known figure-head speakers, and major demos at the G20 in London and NATO summit in Strasbourg.

Now, this blog is probably not a good example of keeping focussed on a narrowly-defined set of issues, but reading the following from Stop the War did make me stop and think a bit:

Our message [at the April 1st - 2nd: Protest at London G20 Summit] will be 'Yes We Can'. Yes we can end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, yes we can get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, yes we can make jobs not bombs, yes we can abolish nukes, yes we can stop arming Israel.

All good things to say yes to, but as a rallying cry for a demo, is there a danger that it's spread too wide? Might as many people be put off as encouraged to join in by this manifesto? In the context of all this, perhaps it'll be even more important that the people and organisations that are already working constructively to those ends are made even more well known to participants and concerned citizens. Are they ready to do this?

My sense from the recent trip to the states is that activists there were very well aware that the big 'Yes We Can' message of Obama's election means nothing if it is not followed up with focussed and dedicated campaigning and active peace-building.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Heeding God''s Call - A Gathering on Peace: epistle reports etc.

Well, the week in Philadelphia was too full and the cost of internet access too high for me to be writing a blog during the week itself. But here's a link to the epistle from the event. Friends Journal is also carrying a number of individual reports and reflections here.

And here are a few snaps taken during the week. I may write more about it over the next week or so, but have a committee meeting to prepare for at the moment.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Gaza - demonstrating and peace vigils

QPSW has teamed up with Pax Christi and other Christian peace organisations to hold a silent vigil before Saturday's national demonstration in London. The vigil will take place from 12.15pm at the area marked Brook Gate - slightly south of Speakers Corner and parallel to Park Lane (nearest tube Marble Arch). See map: Look out for the Pax Christi banner.

QPSW is are also making up QPSW placards featuring the word 'PEACE' in English, Hebrew and Arabic for the demo.(See picture to the left).

There's also a Scottish demonstration, taking place in Edinburgh.

More information about these and other activities relating to Gaza are available on .

Heeding God''s Call - A Gathering on Peace

I'm looking forward to attending this conference in Philadelphia next week, as part of a small British Quaker delegation.

I shall try to find opportunity during the week to make some entries on this blog - and will certainly be reporting back afterwards. Watch this space .....

Gaza - Europe and Middle East Quaker Statement

Crisis in Gaza - Statement by the Executive Committee of EMES

Friends in Europe and the Middle East reach out in grief and solidarity to all Friends caught up in the appalling violence that is once again being visited upon the inhabitants of Gaza. We are holding in the Light especially the children, parents and staff of the Palestinian Early Childhood Education Programme (PECEP), which runs 13 kindergartens in Gaza with financial support from Quaker Service Norway. We will try and share news of them when we can. We uphold our Friends in Ramallah Monthly Meeting, Friends International Centre Ramallah, Friends Schools, the Am'ari Play Centre, American Friends Service Committee and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), all of whom witness to our precious Quaker values of Truth, Peace and Integrity amid daily abuse of human rights.

We stand with them, with all civilian victims of violence, and with all Palestinian and Israeli people who, through many organisations, work tirelessly for justice and peace for all who call this land their home. EMES Representatives have been sent web links and other information on the crisis to share with their Meetings.

We call upon the powerful of the earth to heed the voice of the dispossessed, and say with the Psalmist: "The Lord will not abandon his people; he will not desert those who belong to him. Justice will again be found in the courts, and all righteous people will support it." (Psalm 94, verses 14 and 15). We unequivocally affirm the declaration of founder Quakers in 1660 that "All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world."


FWCC EMES is the collective body for Quaker meetings in Europe and the Middle East. All individual members of yearly meetings and groups affiliated with EMES are members of FWCC.

Representatives from the yearly meetings and affiliated groups normally meet each Easter for the EMES Annual Meeting.