Letters - 3 April 2020

From minds and hearts to finding strength and hope

Focus minds and hearts

I have never voted Conservative in my life and cannot imagine that I would ever do so, though, were I to ask, I might find that ‘some of my best friends’ have voted Conservative. To me this feels like the right time to stand with the government. It is so easy to criticise its mistakes and omissions. I have already heard a good deal of that. However, given the unprecedented nature of what is taking place, perhaps we might instead consider alternative sentiments of kindness, forgiveness, solidarity and encouragement.

That is not to say that we ease up on our representations for those who are at risk of most harm. I include, in particular, our wonderful NHS workers alongside the most vulnerable members of this society. It feels right to support the demand for sufficient appropriate protective equipment for health workers. It also feels right to continue to advocate for the most vulnerable, who are at the greatest risk after health workers from the coranavirus. In particular here I think of those who are homeless and also refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are homeless too, and many more of whom are living in inappropriate or unsanitary accommodation. These are the people who cannot clear the supermarkets of goods and then retreat to safe, warm, clean homes.

Let us come together in peace and focus our minds and hearts on doing ‘what love requires of us’.

Rosemary Crawley

Woodbrooke support

Further to the articles by Woodbrooke’s staff in your 27 March edition, I can confirm Woodbrooke is very much open for learning, as we are putting as many Woodbrooke courses onine as we can for the duration of the crisis. Your news item (also 27 March) stating that Woodbrooke had suspended courses until June is not quite correct; it is the physical face-to face courses held at Woodbrooke, at Swarthmoor Hall and ‘On the Road’ that are suspended. Woodbrooke and Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM), as partners in supporting British Quakerism, are increasing collaboration including on Sustainability and the Vibrancy in Meetings Project, but we are separate charities with different funding. Woodbrooke’s charitable purpose to offer Quaker learning is partly funded by course fees, although it relies heavily on the income generated by its conference and bed and breakfast business, which is suspended for the crisis.

Woodbrooke’s financial challenge over the coming months is going to be maintaining adequate cash flow to meet staff salaries. Woodbrooke will take advantage of the various government emergency schemes that we are entitled to as a charity, and is looking to the best way to support our staff over the next few months in line with our ethical principles. To do this we need your support urgently. We would very much welcome donations or interest-free loans to maintain our cash flow. Please also, of course, sign up for our courses. We are extremely grateful to those Friends and Meetings who have already made donations, but for those who have not yet considered it please do contribute through our website. We very much want to weather this crisis and still be here for Quaker learning and collaboration with BYM to support Quakers and Quakerism across the UK and worldwide long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Please support us at this time.

Rosemary Elias
Treasurer, Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre

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