Archive | April, 2013

A note from the QPSW Tutor

25 Apr

This week, we have a guest post from the QPSW Tutor, Michael Eccles:

I work as the QPSW Tutor at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham.  All QPSW peaceworkers spend a week of their two week preparation period at Woodbrooke and it is my job to put together a programme for their time here.  As well as having input from me, and some of my colleagues, the week at Woodbrooke is a chance for the peaceworkers to think about the upcoming year, to eat lots of Woodbrooke’s great food,  spend time relaxing in the garden, play table tennis, or do some reading in the library.

As well as the initial preparation week, I also co-lead a European Workers Seminar in the spring and a Returned Workers Seminar in the autumn.  These weekends are a chance for the workers to get back together and compare notes about how their work is going, to share problems and frustrations and perhaps help each other find solutions but also to share successes!  The final weekend is back at Woodbrooke and is designed to help find closure after a busy year and to catch up with where everyone is now as well as to spend time relaxing and having fun.

Since I’ve got your attention I’m going to take the opportunity to do a bit of blatant marketeering!  The work I do with the peaceworkers has inspired another of the programmes I work on at Woodbrooke, the Young Adult Leadership Programme. This is also a year long programme beginning and ending with residential periods at Woodbrooke and with a midyear weekend.  The programme is for 19-28 year olds and aims to provide an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a Quaker today, to learn about Quaker history, testimony, Concerns, processes and much much more!  Please get in touch if you’re interested; or like Young Adults at Woodbrooke on facebook or follow YAFsWoodbrooke on twitter.

I feel really lucky that I get to spend this time with the peaceworkers each year; to get to know them and to hear about the great work that they are doing in the UK, Geneva and Burundi.  I think they are a pretty amazing bunch of people!

Michael Eccles

michael.eccles@woodbrooke.org.uk

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Quaker Peace and Social Witness Spring Conference

18 Apr

The weekend before last Ellie and I attended the annual Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) Spring Conference in sunny Swanwick, Derbyshire. QPSW works on behalf of Quakers in Britain, running a wide variety of programmes from Peace Education to the Ecumenical Accompaniment programme in Palestine/Israel (EAPPI), as well as the scheme for our fellow Peaceworkers.[1]

QUNO receives a lot of practical, financial and moral support from QPSW and Quakers in Britain and thus it was an extremely useful opportunity to give an overview of our work to Quakers who were, on the whole, relatively new to Quakerism. I have found that working at the international level means that it is all too easy to feel far removed, not only from the groups that we are researching and writing about (such as the children of prisoners) but also from the concerns and activities of individual Friends. We have returned from this conference inspired by those we met: their interest, enthusiasm, support, challenges and suggestions, and filled with motivation to continue this valuable work.

Image

Ellie and Haifa at the ‘meet the staff’ session at the QPSW Spring Conference

 

[1] For more on the work of QPSW see http://www.quaker.org.uk

European Workers’ Seminar (Party)

11 Apr

Dear Readers and Friends,

I’m trying a lighter tone with this post, and have included lots of pictures for your consumption…

In mid – March, Peaceworkers from London, Geneva and Brussels gathered in the Belgian Abbey at Kortenberg for a weekend seminar to reflect on this mid-point in the year.

Kortenberg Abbey

Kortenberg Abbey

For two days, we shared the highlights and challenges that we face in our work; explored the Quaker aspects of our work; and looked at what the next 6 months and beyond might bring. The workshop was a really useful platform to get together, and I think we all valued having the opportunity to spend  some time with others in the same position as us. It turns out that Kortenberg is a tiny town a bit in the middle of no-where, so we stayed mostly within the quiet grounds of the Abbey – a perfect space to reflect. Although the trip would have been a bit of a hoick for the Burundi workers, we did manage to Skype with Edith on Saturday, which was certainly a highlight. Edith, it was so great to see your glowing face and hear all about your adventures and joys you are finding in your work!

Skyping Edith

Skyping Edith

Thank you to Michael Eccles at Woodbrooke and Helen Bradford at Friends House for facilitating the weekend.

Waving Alissa goodbye on Sunday afternoon, Owen, Ellie, Haifa and myself continued the fun for two days afterwards as we all stayed on at ‘Maison Quaker’ in Brussels with the QCEA workers. We spent our time playing backgammon; learning lines; making a short film (the fruits of which will be showcased shortly!); writing letters; sharing lunches and seeing the sights:

Rhiannon, Owen and Haifa, Grand Place

Rhiannon, Owen and Haifa, Grand Place

It would be untrue of me not to mention the major activity that we took part in: tasting all the delights that Brussels has to offer; waffles, beer, frites, and mussels of course. They have a great rule in Brussels where you can buy frites from a friterie on the street, and take them into a local bar to eat them with your favourite pint:

QUNO, QCEA and QPSW

QUNO, QCEA and QPSW

We made a point of tasting as many different beers as possible in the evenings, and I personally fought to get as many toppings on my waffle as physically possible before the poor waffle collapsed:

Buying delicious waffles

Buying delicious waffles

Mussels are served in cauldron-like vats, and again served with frites. All in all, we had a lovely time together, and it was a welcome chance to have a little break, relax some, and catch up properly with eachother.

On behalf of the others, I’d like to extend a big thanks to Imogen, Chris and Beth for their warm hospitality!

All for now,

Rhiannon

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