Scotland United Against Austerity, Saturday 20 June, George Square
Real Benefits Street: the reality that doesn’t make it onto TV, from Church Action on Poverty (CAP)
Real Benefits Street is a chance for people receiving benefits – real-life experts – to tell their own stories, and show the true reality of life on benefits. Their stories challenge the myths which stigmatise those who are supported by benefits, and the assumptions lying behind the changes and cuts that are making their lives harder.
The experts of Real Benefits Street have made short videos that highlight some of the real choices people have to make on a daily basis. They include stories about food banks, getting into debt, social isolation and the impact a broken benefits system has on the lives of individuals, families and communities. They also show the resilience and resourcefulness that enables people to get by in difficult circumstances – and provide a reminder that the benefits systems should be a safety net that is there for all of us when we need it.
In Wi’ the Mix: A Report on Tackling Sectarianism Together, from Faith in Community Scotland
At the heart of this work are the local people who have committed an incredible amount of time and energy.
Member John Harvey and associate Martin Johnstone helped with this report:
Beyond Foodbanks: Growing a Food Justice Movement
Folk might have missed this earlier in the year (Ed.):
On 28th February 2015 Faith in Community Scotland, the Church of Scotland and the Centre for Human Ecology held a conference in the Pearce Institute, Govan, addressing food justice issues in Scotland today. For outputs from the conference, including videos of speakers, conference documents, social media feeds and responses and ideas addressing the issues raised:
‘Sending supermarket wastage to food banks would be a backward step’: a letter to The Herald, Saturday 30 May, 2015
A letter signed by a group of informed and concerned folk, including Iona Community members Liz Dowler, Professor of Public Health Policy at the University of Warwick, and Ewan Aitken, CEO Cyrenians …
‘Nothing about us – without us – is for us’, from the Poverty Truth Commission
The Poverty Truth Commission brings together some of Scotland’s key decision-makers with those living at the sharp end of poverty. We work together towards overcoming poverty in Scotland; ensuring that those affected by decisions are central to decision-making. The Commission believes poverty will only be truly addressed when those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process.
It is our conviction that we cannot hope to understand, let alone address, the causes and symptoms of poverty unless we involve the experts. In this context, the experts are those who have a direct experience of poverty; living with the reality day in and day out. To use our motto, taken from the South African post-apartheid process, ‘Nothing about us – without us – is for us’. We believe real progress towards overcoming poverty will be made when those who experience poverty are central to the development, delivery and evaluation of solutions.
Below: ‘Nothing about us – without us – is for us’ – some Iona Community staff recently participating in a campaign to show solidarity with the Poverty Truth Commission:
Joint call on affordable homes, from Scottish Churches Housing Action
Four national charities, including Scottish Churches Housing Action, have written to Margaret Burgess MSP, Minister for Housing and Welfare, with a joint call to set an ambitious target for new affordable homes across Scotland. Shelter Scotland, Homeless Action Scotland, Rural Housing Scotland and Scottish Churches Housing Action all believe that the next Parliament, following the 2016 Holyrood elections, should see an upswing in provision of homes for those in need.
‘During the Westminster election campaign,’ says Scottish Churches Housing Action Chief Executive, Alastair Cameron, ‘the First Minister called on the UK Government to set a target of 100,000 new affordable homes a year across Britain. This would imply about 10,000 new affordable homes in Scotland each year, creating employment opportunities as well as meeting housing need. Housing investment is a devolved matter, so Scotland’s contribution to meeting this target needs decisive action at Holyrood.
‘We agree that austerity government is not the way forward; we look forward to seeing the Scottish Government build our way to a better future for young people seeking a home, for people who need to move to take up work, and for families and individuals stuck in homelessness.’
The Scottish Government’s current target for affordable housing in Scotland is 30,000 new homes – or 6,000 per year – over the five years of the current Parliament, 2011-16. The four organisations believe that targets set by the next Scottish Government should be more ambitious.
(The Iona Community has a representative on the Board of SCHA.)
Petition to Pardon the Trident Whistleblower, from Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has created an official petition to support the Trident whistleblower, William McNeilly.
‘We support the Trident whistleblower, William McNeilly. He should be commended for exposing the poor safety standards on nuclear submarines and not persecuted. The only way to remove this danger is to scrap Trident. Scottish CND has worked with the journalist Rob Edwards to put McNeilly’s report in the public domain.’
Protestors at Dungavel call for an end to immigration detention, from the BBC
Several Iona Community folk took part in this protest at Dungavel:
UK Refugee Week, 15-21 June, 2015, from Refugee Week
Refugee Week was first held in 1998 and developed in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain, fuelled by persistently hostile media coverage of the asylum issue. It is the only UK-wide event that attempts to counter this negative climate, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.
Refugee Week provides a platform where positive images of refugees can be promoted in order to create a culture of welcome throughout the UK. Our ultimate aim is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to the UK.
Members, associates and friends
The Iona Community’s report to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Fundraising for a project in Uganda, from Iona volunteer Doreen Nyamwija
Some of you may already know that I am raising money to construct raised latrines with disabled access for schoolchildren in Uganda. This is partly because I grew up in a special needs school and saw how children suffer as they crawl to use the facilities, since most of their parents cannot afford wheelchairs. It is heartbreaking to see them crawl on dirty floors, as it makes them more vulnerable to infection and diseases.
We have so far raised over £500 towards the £1000 target, but the final cost is likely to be four times this figure. I am very grateful and humbled by everyone’s generosity so far and I hope that we can work together to raise enough money so that every disabled child in Uganda can benefit from accessible toilets.
For further information about ‘Loos we are all able to use’, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at: [email protected]
There will be more information and a reflection from Dora in the summer Coracle (Ed.).
Living the Rule: the twenty-eighth day: basic Christian communities …
As part of the Iona Community’s monthly prayer cycle, on the twenty-eight day of each month Community members pray for ‘intentional and basic Christian communities throughout the world’, and in particular, these ‘friends of our purpose’: Ashram Community, Sheffield; Community for Reconciliation, Barnes Close; Community of Aidan and Hilda; Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland; Northumbria Community; Othona Community; Pilsdon Community; Servants of Christ the King; The Well at Willen, Milton Keynes …
Following are some links to these communities: you might like to find out more, or look at current concerns and campaigns – or just say hello.
Wee Wonder Box, from the Wild Goose Resource Group and friends
The life of the Iona Community is changing. A renewed desire to expand our public programme activities has been bubbling for a while. In addition, we also now have the exciting prospect of a new Glasgow base.We are beginning a process of exploring ways of turning this desire for a visible public face into reality.
The Wild Goose Resource Group/WGRG & Holy City have been tasked to catalyse this process alongside Pat Bennett, recently appointed as Programmes Development Worker for the Community.
The working title of this programme is weeWONDERBOX.
For this programme to take shape and fulfil its potential, what is needed is a strong sense of ownership by Members, Associates, Friends and friends of our purpose, fostered by your ideas, involvement, energy and commitment.
For information about the meetings held in May, or the opportunity to submit a survey:
Bell, Book and Candle: A liturgy for St Columba’s Day (9th June), by Jan Sutch Pickard, from Wild Goose Publications
An order of service for use on 9th June, St Columba’s Day …
O God we find it hard to let go of all that gives us status or security;
we cling on to the grief and grievances of the past;
we talk about putting our trust in you – but we struggle;
we hear your call – but find it hard to take the first step.
You care for our human frailty – forgive us when we fail;
when you call us again, give us courage to follow you. Amen
Jan Sutch Pickard, from ‘Bell, Book and Candle’
Camas Open Day, 14th June
A Camas thank you: a poem by Elena Aldegheri
Elena Aldegheri, Esa, was part of the Camas Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNet) week in May …
Camas thank you
We rolled up on time, a sleepy huddle
of coffees and rucksacks
in Queen Street Station’s morning tangle.
A train then a boat then a bus took us West,
under widening skies
to meet the sea. We
as we went, snoozing, swapping
names and food, showing
some of our colours: a skein
of travelling stories.
Across a lark-sung moor we threaded, a bobbing line
bearing drums and bagfuls of questions
How to stay strong? How to keep
growing and caring while working with pain
on a scale we can’t change?
a bell marks the tides, a garden grows
improbably, stuff gets done
despite no electricity, worries
in nests of knotted net.
It seemed we let loose into trust; uncoiled
the threads each carried until
we wove the days into delight.
It seemed we made words into tapestry: revealed
the patterns of strength, the tones of hope
that shine when stories and songs are shared.
It seemed we found no answers, but sealed
an unspoken pact to keep asking good
questions, and gather again.
on the moor, the road, the sea, the track towards high city windows,
But the tapestry grows in my head, its thread
long like the road to Camas, its weave
strong like the roots of a tree leafing out
in a crack between rocks.
You strengthen it too. Thank you.
– Elena Aldegheri ©
Iona Community Associate members Week: for Associate members, partners and families, 3rd-9th October, 2015
A week with Iona Community Leader Peter Macdonald …
To book, call Carol at the Abbey on 01681 700404 or email: [email protected]
(There are also 3 unexpected vacancies in the Abbey for the week starting 27 June. If interested, please call or e-mail Carol.)
From Immigration/Home Office Prayers, by Alison Swinfen
A prayer from the upcoming Wild Goose book, Praying with the Iona Community …
It’s easier to pray
for the ones made destitute by a faceless
It’s easier to pray
for the ones who disappear,
detained without time limit
at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
It’s easier to pray for the
the bodies wasting
in a protest of despair.
It’s not easy to pray
for the one who
beckons the frightened woman
through the door
and laughs as he key-turns.
It’s not easy to pray for you.
The one who stands before Parliament
saying: ‘Let them all drown if they
dare to cross
the Mediterranean Sea.’
It’s not easy to pray for you,
the one who talks in a loud
voice behind me
on the bus, swearing
about anyone who is
not just like you.
God of the disappeared
Christ of the detained
Spirit to those who are hungering
help me to pray faithfully,
when stirred by pain.
God of unfathomable mercy
Christ incarnating forgiveness
Spirit answering cruel words with truth,
teach me to pray the harder prayers,
teach me of your mercy too.
– Alison Swinfen, © Alison Swinfen
Alison Swinfen is Co-Convener of GRAMNet.