Tag Archives: Friends House

A new batch of Peaceworkers…

7 Sep

Welcome to P.O. Box Peace!

This blog is a manifestation of the work that Quakers are doing towards building a more peaceful world. It has been voluntarily set up by the 7 current Quaker Peaceworkers for 2012 to enable us to share our stories of peace work from across the world – see more info. on our ‘about us’ page.

We come from varied backgrounds, and have spent the last two weeks together in preparation for our new roles before stepping out into the big wide world of peace work. Meeting on a Tuesday morning over breakfast at the Penn Club, we started our preparation with a busy first week at Friends House in Euston, London. Here, we spent our days learning about the broad work of Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW), trying to get a grasp of the nuances between different strands of Quakerism worldwide, meeting with various international peace organisations, meeting our soon-to-be managers over Skype, and exploring our common ground within our shared values of peace, equality, simplicity and truth. One of the most useful parts of the week was having the chance to connect with the current outgoing Peaceworkers, to ask them questions, and hear about their year and where they are off to, now…it helped to put everything in perspective for me.

After collapsing at the weekend and re-couping some energy, I met with the others at Woodbrooke, the Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, for our second week of preparation. The emphasis here was to take stock, reflect on the year to come, and relax. I particularly enjoyed the depth of our sessions with Woodbrooke Tutor Michael Eccles, where we looked at our activism; the meaning of Peace, conflict and non-violence; took inspiration from our forebearers and explored our commitment to this work. After spending 5 days enjoying the company of the other Peaceworkers, with plenty of time to read, sleep and play outside in the sun, and a cheeseboard at every meal, I floated out of Woodbrooke well fed, nourished and ready to start the next part of the journey. I can’t speak for the others, but I’m sure something along those lines was the general consensus of our time there.

Some of us have started work this week, and I have started my post as Campaigns and Policy Officer at Gender Action for Peace and Security UK! GAPS UK, established in 2006, is a network of NGOs who work in the fields of gender, peace building, humanitarian, development and human rights issues. Perhaps it’s not one that you have heard of before. We are an expert working group on issues of gender, peace and security, providing support to policymakers and practitioners who are engaged in work surrounding women’s rights in conflict affected countries. We do this by building on key policy instruments like UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security through advocacy, collaborative research and campaigning. Perhaps that sounds a bit jargonny – my posts will become more detailed as we move through the year and I really start to know what I’m talking about. All I do know, is that I’ll be building on the GAPS campaign No women, No Peace.’, and doing some policy, advocacy and research work. I’ve spent most of this week learning the ropes, finding my space in the office, reading up, and working out what my role will be in the coming year. I’ve already been down to Parliament for a meeting with some GAPS members, formulating a strategy that will aim to raise the profile of Afghan women’s rights on the agendas of key UK diplomatic vehicles. And this morning, I spent some of this sunny Friday with our friends at Amnesty International UK learning about campaign strategy, the importance of collaboration in campaign work, and getting clearer about our aims and objectives.

If our carefully crafted plan works, another of the UK Peaceworkers will be writing a post next, so I’ll leave you in their capable hands!

// Rhiannon at Gender Action for Peace and Security, UK

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