Letters - 20 November 2020

From Webinar with doctor to Should we sue?

Webinar with doctor

Luton and Leighton Area Meeting brought a concern for compassionate assistance to die to Meeting for Sufferings, which expressed the need for more information to aid discernment. We therefore decided to hold a webinar with Stefanie Green, president of the Canadian Association for Assisted Dying Assessors and Practitioners.

We are not able to speak with British doctors about how they might manage patients who wished to have an assisted death.  Some of us will have heard of people going to Switzerland, to a room on an industrial estate.

This gives the idea of a cold, businesslike, heartless and uncaring approach to death, increasing fears especially in relation to how the vulnerable can be protected.

Anyone listening to Dr Green will soon understand that a patient’s needs are paramount.  She explains her role and engagement with her patients – asking questions, listening and discussion, and offering a range of therapeutic options. One of these is assisted death, which some of her patients ‘put in their back pocket’, knowing it’s there if they need it.

This insight into how a doctor works with patients near the end of their life is very revealing and shows us that it can be managed in a caring, kind and safe way. 

The webinar was attended by about 250 people. We hope many of you will now watch it online at this link: https://youtu.be/NICDqSelP4M

Valerie Coast

Gift Aid

Friends are once again taking a lofty tone about Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) accepting Gift Aid. At the same time, we’ve learned that thirty-one Friends House staff are having to accept redundancy because BYM is struggling financially. That’s a huge number for a small organisation – and there may well be worse to come.

I first became involved in BYM work at national level about twenty-five years ago, when I was appointed to serve on the clunkily-named Communications and Fundraising Sub-Committee of the Administrative Committee. Friends House was then on its uppers and having to make staff redundant because of the miserliness of Friends.

I vividly remember Peter Fishpool addressing the Yearly Meeting in session: he told us, truthfully, that some Friends seemed to spend more on cat food than they gave to BYM. A storm of petulant fury promptly broke over his head.

Friends House staff have since become quite brilliant at fundraising – they’ve been forced to, since the membership has scarcely become any more generous. If you want the proof, just take a look at the pie chart in BYM trustees’ annual review for 2019.

Friends House staff are doing the work that British Friends have asked them to do on our behalf. If we’re not prepared to pay for it, we shouldn’t find fault with BYM using other lawful means of raising money.

To imply that ‘we’ are using Gift Aid money ‘to our own advantage’ is an appalling slur. Of course we’re not. It’s being used to further God’s purposes as we ourselves have discerned them.

When those Friends who can are ready to dig a bit deeper in their pockets for the work of the Spirit and to protect the jobs of our able, hard-working and dedicated staff, then we can afford to get on our high horses about Gift Aid.

Stevie Krayer

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