The Social Action Group now has a new blog which you can find here.
This is the best place to keep up with the latest news on our projects.
We Unitarians can be justifiably proud of our history of involvement in social change. Famous Unitarians such as Josiah Wedgwood and the Weston sisters were prominent figures in ending slavery. Susan B. Anthony and Mary Wollstonecraft were key to the success of securing universal suffrage and rights for women. Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton demonstrated a humanity which lives on in the shape of modern nursing and the American Red Cross. These people saw a social injustice and put themselves forward to bring change. This legacy survives today. Congregations such as Newington Green are making a stand against an injustice they feel strongly about, by campaigning for marriage equality. The Croydon congregation even operate a sheltered housing scheme.
Our own congregation are a lifeblood to a multitude of diverse local organisations, many of which may not be able to exist without our support. We also sponsor the Swaziland Education Project which makes an enormous difference to the lives of AIDs orphans in the SOS Children's Village. This contribution of our community should not be understated. In addition many of us also give a vast amount of our time and money to those causes that we hold personally important.
But can we do more? As a congregation we are a group, rich in both talents and resources. Perhaps more importantly we share a common sense of compassion and a desire for social justice. This concern for humanity and the wider world is evidenced each and every week during the lighting of candles of joy and concern. We would like to provide the opportunity for people to get together and use these talents and resources to affect a positive change. To help do this we are setting up a Social Action Group. The group will be an informal way for us to get together, to share the causes that are important to us and to develop ways to make a change. This could be through campaigning activity, through fundraising or perhaps through something more practical. We are hoping to meet up together after the service on 23rd May 2010 to talk through how we should take this forwards.
We all have commitments and even with our resources and skills we are small. But with creativity and enthusiasm we can make a difference. Edward Everett Hale, the 19th Century Unitarian minister and social activist put it well when he said that "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do". We are more than one. Please come along on the 23rd May 2010 or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have some ideas or would like to be involved. - Karl Askew
Here are links of some of the charities our congregation has supported in recent years:
Camphill Communities offer opportunities for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs to live, learn and work with others in an atmosphere of mutual care and respect.
Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. They provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support and campaign for better cancer care.
Notting Hill Housing Trust
Part of the work of the Trust is helping homeless people, first into temporary housing, then into rented accommodation. They say: "we want to provide homes people love, not homes they have to put up with".
Send a Child to Hucklow
SACTH exists to organise and run holidays for children who would not otherwise have a holiday, regardless of their race, nationality or religion, and without seeking to influence their religious beliefs.
St Mungo's aims to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness, to equip people to realise their potential, to deliver client-centred services and to influence policy that affects homeless/excluded people.
WaterAid enables the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. These basic human rights underpin health, education and livelihoods and form the first, essential step in overcoming poverty.
A member of our congregation, Iona Blair, has travelled to Swaziland in the summer of 2008. Here is what she had to say about her plans before she set off:
In July I am planning to travel to Swaziland for two different projects. First I will be working for four weeks with the Orphan Care Project in Lobamba. 40% of the population of Swaziland are HIV positive, and there are nearly 200,000 orphans in this desperately poor country. The Orphan Care Project uses volunteers to give support and love to some of these children, to organise games and outings for them, to teach them simple English, maths and life skills, to help those still in the community, to help with setting up gardens and food distribution programmes, to improve their homes and to raise funds.
After this I will spend a further four weeks working with "Siyabonisana Permaculture Project' in Mbabane, which is an organic garden run by volunteers in the community, which aims to educate local people about environmental conservation and organic faming methods. This group also runs course on HIV/AIDS prevention and coping strategies. They have e-mailed me telling me that I have been elected as their British 'ambassador' in advance!
If anyone reading this feels able to make a donation, either towards the cost of this visit (I am saving hard, but any help would be very welcome and I promise that it will be used well) or directly towards the work of Orphan Care or towards the Siyabonisana Water Pump appeal I would be very grateful. I hope I will bring back some interesting experiences to share with people at the Church. In the meantime, if anyone does feel that they could offer anything, perhaps they could contact a member of the Church committee if I am not there. Thank you for reading this anyway.
last updated: 26 Apr 2011