Letters - 31 August 2018

From giving voice to humanity to wedding rings

Giving voice to humanity

Having recently attended Ireland Yearly Meeting, I was very interested to read Peter Lamb’s excellent account (17 August). May I add mention of a special interest group I attended, which I think would resonate widely with Friends as providing a possible tool in work towards reconciliation?

‘Giving voice to humanity’, led by Cork Friend Nicholas McMurray, was about the innovative use of a citizens’ assembly in Ireland during the lead up to a recent referendum on a potentially divisive issue.

A hundred citizens (ninety-nine plus one chairperson) were randomly selected as a statistical cross-section of the population, following demographic profiles of age, gender, region, occupation, education and other diversities.

The assembly, which was supported by the Irish government, met together over a series of weekends, listened to a range of speakers and had intense discussions.

As trust and confidence grew, appreciation of different viewpoints increased. Ideas discussed and put forward collectively were eventually incorporated into the new legislation required after the referendum took place.

Interestingly, although emphasis was on the referendum issue (abortion law), some of the sessions were on other important topics such as climate change.

Evelyn M Shire

Food insecurity

I have been reading about the Food Insecurity Bill, proposed by Emma Lewell-Buck MP, calling on the government to start measuring food insecurity in the UK.

The Food Insecurity Bill is trying to address a problem that affects a lot of people in our society. It is concerning that one in ten people in Britain feel insecure about access to food.

Even more worrying is the statistic that nineteen per cent of the children in the UK live in a household where there is moderate to severe food insecurity. Bad quality food is quite often the only affordable option in some households.

This problem can have devastating long-term effects on the health and emotional wellbeing of the affected individuals.

The situation can be fully addressed only if we find a way to measure it accurately. However, we can no longer rely on numbers of food bank users as a reliable measurement for poverty. This is because many people facing food insecurity do not always access food banks.

It is important that we write to our MPs, asking them to support the Food Insecurity Bill at its second hearing in parliament in October 2018.

The charity End Hunger UK have launched an online campaign to support the proposed bill.  It offers a user-friendly online platform to assist in writing to MPs.

Thanos Konstantinidis

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.