From a blast from the past to speaking terms
Blast from the past
A letter in the Friend (28 June) questioned the desirability of maintaining historic Meeting houses. There are multiple reasons for doing so – not the least of which is that the stability that comes from maintaining historical connections fosters self-identity and enables groups to move forward with confidence.
About sixteen years ago many Friends and charities contributed generously to the restoration of the early-sixteenth-century Meeting house and seventeenth-century barn at Airton, in a small rural community in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To begin with there was no worshipping community in Airton and the Meeting house was partly unroofed. Its projected restoration was an act of faith and hope. Now there is a regular Meeting for Worship with an active programme of community involvement. Monthly concerts and performances raise income that supports varied charitable causes. Overnight guests stay in our bunk-barn and hundreds of people visit our historic Meeting house each year. For most visitors this is their first exposure to Quakerism. Visitors read displayed posters; some are given mini talks about Quakerism; some take away leaflets; some ask how they can get more information or how they can find a Friends’ Meeting where they live.
We invite Friends who may doubt the utility of remote, ancient Meeting houses to visit us and see what can be done, and we invite everyone else to come and visit us just for the pleasure of doing so. Our Meetings for Worship are at 3pm on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.
Owing it to them
I am becoming increasingly concerned about the effect that huge student debt is having on the mental health of our young citizens. As a nation we are becoming more aware of the problem of bad mental health of our youth, but it is not being linked with the issue of so many young and now some older people being burdened with huge education loan debts.
When I needed a grant to do a teaching degree in 1983 it covered my college fees and living expenses for myself and my two very young children, but even so I can remember the dread of getting into debt. I am aware that many students will never earn enough to pay off this debt, but this does not remove the pressure of having it in the first place.
I have recently become aware that it is impossible for some to get even a normal loan to buy a car, let alone get a mortgage. All these things add to the pressure on young – and not so young – people. I have friends whose grandchildren are now getting student loans when their parents are still paying off their loans, and, to add insult to injury, many of the MPs who have voted for these fees themselves benefited from free grants.
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