From Charitable donations to The nativity story
At Christmas time, we try to send donations to charities that are of special interest to us, but sometimes feel quite overwhelmed by the number of unsolicited appeals sent to us over the course of the year, via the Friend and other very worthy sources.
In this connection I have counted the appeals received by us in 2021 and find that they amount to seventy-one, with one charity sending to us no less than seven times and four more sending to us five times.
In such circumstances it is perhaps understandable to react with ‘Oh no, not again!’ and ‘What a waste of money and effort’, as we put them in the recycling bin.
I do not think there is an answer to this and should perhaps feel ashamed that I can afford to whinge about something so trivial in relation to the crying needs of the world. Do others feel similarly?
The Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) exists to further relations between Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) and members of Friends Yearly Meetings in European countries, and also as a campaigner for peace and human rights in Europe. It is financed from London and occupies an art nouveau building in Brussels in the ‘EU’ quarter. It is staffed by UK and EU nationals, young postgrads, who research for QCEA campaigns, organise seminars in those subjects, and offer EU officials and politicians a neutral place to bring together parties in dispute to reconcile differences. In this respect QCEA resembles the outstandingly successful Quaker presence (QUNO) at the UN. There is also a yearly briefing tour to EU institutions.
QCEA has had a difficult history recently. Since Martina Weitsch retired as director, QCEA has had trouble in finding a suitable replacement. Eventually one was found, Andrew Lane, who formerly served in the UK police service. Andrew presided over a successful reassessment of QCEA’s research and campaign work, reducing it to the two major areas mentioned. He managed QCEA with a gentle hand encouraging staff to develop their talents.
When Andrew left to enter teacher training we again had difficulties in finding a successor. Eventually we found someone who seemed suitable, Timmon Wallis, a Quaker activist with a PhD in Peace Studies, who had served as the peace and disarmament manager at BYM from 2014-2017. Timmon took up the position in March 2021. Unfortunately his management style was very different from Andrew’s. It is not the purpose of this item to give details, but many members of staff were preparing to leave, and the executive committee of QCEA decided to relieve Timmon of his post before his probationary term of employment ended.
While QCEA staff and the British Friends of QCEA have up to now said very little about the situation for fear of damage to QCEA, and out of concern for Timmon himself, Timmon has taken to arguing his case on Facebook. The consequences of this are difficult to foresee, but if Timmon were to ‘win’ his case, QCEA would be in serious trouble.
The general assembly of QCEA is now holding a series of meetings to determine the way forward, and a small committee has been formed in order to decide what we can learn from the affair. This includes a representative from the committee of the British Friends of QCEA.
British Friends of QCEA committee and trustee
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