Friends mark Quaker Week

Quaker Week activities from around the country

The artwork created by students at Sibford Junior School. | Photo: Sibford Junior School.

Friends all over Britain came together during Quaker Week 2017 (30 September-8 October) under the theme of ‘In turbulent times, be a Quaker’. A variety of events were put on and included vigils, displays and Meetings for Worship.

In Manchester on every day of the nearby Conservative Party conference Manchester and Warrington Quakers were joined by Friends from other Meetings in the North West of England for a silent vigil. This was held on the steps of Mount Street Meeting House from 1pm to 2pm.

Organisers offered a cup of tea and the use of toilet facilities to many of the police officers on duty for the conference who were stationed outside in the cold and wind.

In Rochdale a ceremony for the reopening of Ball Street Gardens, the site of the Quaker burial ground where John Bright, the Quaker politician, and his family are buried, was held on Saturday 7 October.

The afternoon was very rainy, but Rochdale Borough Council provided a marquee, umbrellas and refreshments. The council had also cleared the Quaker memorial stones and laid out the gardens.

Bill Cash MP, a descendant of John Bright and the author of John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator, a biography published in 2012, unveiled a plaque.

Friends from Rochdale Meeting described how John Bright’s life and work was influenced by issues such as peace, justice, equality and truth. Those in the gardens also heard how the Religious Society of Friends is very active in these areas today.

In Bristol Quakers and local refugee organisations took part in an evening of discussion, music and art at Redland Meeting House. The theme was ‘Social Justice for Refugees – what does this mean?’

Speakers from Bristol Refugee Rights described their experiences of the ‘hostile’ official system. They also talked about the kindness they had met from ordinary people. Quaker volunteers discussed their work with refugees in education, advocacy and housing support.

Local Quaker children had produced a diorama depicting a painful departure from across the ocean and a friendly welcome on the other side. There were peace songs from a Quaker songwriter and food from chefs of the Bristol Hospitality Network, who raised over £600 for their work with destitute asylum seekers.

Quaker and potter Cáit Gould, who appeared on BBC2’s The Great Pottery Throw Down earlier this year, hosted a creative family event for parents and children, as part of the Quaker Week activities at Reading Meeting. The event involved paper crafts for all ages and clay activities.

Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West and Minister for Housing and planning, also gave a talk followed by a question and answer session on Saturday 7 October

Friends in Sussex held a vigil outside a branch of the big four bank urging investment in cleaner, more sustainable energy rather than in fossil fuels. This was also the theme of Christian Aid’s ‘The Big Shift’ campaign.

At Sibford Junior School pupils celebrated by using sand art to create an impressive Quaker ‘Q ‘on the school playground.

Also in Quaker Week Quaker Concern for Animals (QCA) celebrated World Animal Day on 4 October. QCA members distributed their Autumn 2017 newsletter and animal protection literature in the bookshop at Friends House in London.

Friends House Restaurant created a special vegan menu for the day.

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