Our Simpler Meetings project has found and shared ways to run Quaker meetings more simply. By reducing the burden on role-holders, we can free up time and energy for spiritual growth, witness and outreach.
In spring 2021 we collaborated with Woodbrooke on a successful series of online seminars. The series, which attracted over 1,000 bookings, covered the many ways Quakers have found to run their meetings more simply. Friends explored simpler approaches for role-holders and those running smaller meetings, new ways of using technology, and how area meetings can better work together.
“You’ve brought the idea that we can think differently out into the daylight. Now it’s up to us to continue the conversation.”
A Friend’s feedback on the Simpler Meetings project
Find out what we’ve learned and how you could help your meeting thrive on our website.
[Picture: Hexham Friends – Sophie Smith]
Engaging young adult Quakers
Young adult Quakers are a vital part of our Quaker community. A project to support 18- to 35-year-olds in their engagement with Quakerism has made a real difference.
Since 2017 the number of young adult Quaker groups in Britain has trebled, and we’ve seen a significant growth in attendance at Yearly Meeting. Cost is often a barrier to engagement, so we’ve helped over 100 young adults to attend events and courses at Woodbrooke. And a new grants scheme has so far awarded £6,535.
Nearly 90 per cent of the young adults we surveyed said they now feel more connected to the wider Quaker community and more spiritually nourished. Many cited improved communications – a dedicated newsletter, podcast and video series, plus a wider reach across our social media channels.
Changes to our national structures have helped increase the number of young adult Quakers serving centrally, from 15 in 2017 to 34 in 2020, including two as BYM Trustees.
Supporting Quaker communities
This case study shows how the valuable impact of having local development workers in our meetings and communities is already being felt.
“Trustees were planning to sell the meeting house of a very small meeting at Llandrindod Wells (Southern Marches Area Meeting) that some Friends felt had become too much of a burden to maintain. Other Friends, however, were passionate about continuing to make the space available to a group reaching out to the local community for adult education, as well as keeping a continued Quaker presence.
“I worked with Friends to allow more time for further discernment and producing a business plan and a spirit-led vision. This was taken to Area Meeting where going ahead with the arrangements for a long-term lease instead of sessional lettings, and for engaging an agency to manage the building, was strongly supported.”
Local Development Worker for Wales and the Southern Marches
[photo: Ashburton Meeting House]
Building back better
In June 2020 we joined a coalition of over 80 organisations to launch a campaign for a green and just recovery from the pandemic. Build Back Better brings together students, teachers, healthcare workers, NGOs, and faith groups to campaign for a recovery that protects public services, creates secure and sustainable jobs, and tackles inequality and the climate crisis.
Find ways to lobby for a green and just recovery in this blog, which includes a briefing for Quakers.
“The need to avert future crises, the likelihood of high unemployment, the hardship suffered by many during the pandemic, and the public support for a green recovery have combined to create a real imperative for action. We must not miss this moment.”
From our submission to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, where we set out our priorities for a recovery that benefits both people and planet.
[Picture: An anti-Policing Bill protest in Aberystwyth, May 2021 – Ben Robinson for Quakers in Britain]
Preparing for COP26
Ahead of November’s UN climate talks in Glasgow, Quakers have joined the UK climate movement in calling for radical action to reverse climate breakdown.
In the autumn we ran nine interfaith climate workshops with Christian Aid and Faith for the Climate. The workshops focussed on helping people of faith in Leeds, Leicester and Manchester develop their skills and build campaign networks.
We also helped coordinate the COP26 Faiths Task Group, urging the UK government to honour its commitment to end the use of public money for overseas fossil fuel projects.
We recently supported a group of Quakers to organise a weekend of action called ‘Journey to COP26’. Those of all faiths and none were invited to join Friends on a pilgrimage to a place they consider sacred.
[Picture: A 'Journey to COP26' pilgrimage in Cornwall – Alison Meaton]
Quakers support the growing call for peace education to be made available to all.
Since 2019 we have been working with the Quaker Council for European Affairs on a project to strengthen peace education across Europe. Together, we have facilitated workshops for EU policymakers, academics and practitioners, and developed new advocacy tools.
In May 2021 we held a three-day online conference that looked at how education can create sustainable peace and heal divisions. Over 500 people from 63 countries heard from speakers from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Rwanda.
It was inspiring to hear directly from young people. Quasim, a young Afghan peace volunteer, shared his experience of teaching literacy and nonviolence to street children, while young people from Britain spoke of the importance of restorative approaches and empathy.
We will continue to support the growing number of grassroots Quaker peace education projects and increase our advocacy.
“Peace education has the power to change narratives and teach children that war is neither normal nor inevitable. Only fear limits us from seeing opportunities to actively create peace.”
Atiaf Alwazir, Head of QCEA’s Peace Programme
[Photo: A workshop using the Razor wire & olive branches toolkit – Michael Preston for Quakers in Britain]
We’re delighted to have a new base for Quaker work – a self-contained office attached to Quaker Meeting House, Woodhouse Lane in Leeds. This is a milestone in realising our vision of becoming less London-centric, more supportive of flexible working, and better placed to serve the needs of Quaker communities across Britain.
The office will be a base for action with Quakers in the north of England, with space for national committee meetings and events in the meeting house next door.
[Picture: Deputy Recording Clerk Juliet Prager settles into the new Leeds Hub]
How organisations keep people safe has received scrutiny over the last year. We engaged an external safeguarding agency to review our historic cases, which concluded that there were no high-risk cases needing further investigation. We have adopted a new secure safeguarding database. We aim to ensure that all safeguarding incidents and concerns are logged on this single system.
We launched new model documents for Quaker area meetings, whose trustees are responsible for safeguarding in local meetings. These are already being adopted in many area meetings, and we are encouraging them to renew their safeguarding policies by the end of 2022. We will provide clarification and support where it is needed.
Our trustees have adopted a substantially revised BYM Safeguarding Policy and a new Online Safeguarding Policy. The new Safeguarding Officer is helping us to develop our safeguarding practice as well as supporting area meeting safeguarding coordinators. Area meetings can access specialist advice and training from the independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight.
[Picture: A children's session at Yearly Meeting 2018 – Mike Pinches]
Supporting Quaker work gives us the means and the profile to make a real impact, as a thriving faith community working nationally and internationally for peace, justice, equality and sustainability.
To find out how to support this work with a gift visit our website:
In 2020 gifts in wills were especially important for BYM and supported our work during a year of great uncertainty. The generosity and deep values of Friends who came before are very much by our side. They put their faith into action for a sustainable and peaceful world.
If you would like to give the gift of equality, peace, truth, justice and simplicity to the next generation of Quakers, please visit www.quaker.org.uk/legacy.
“I give because I deeply value the Quaker mix of encouragement for spiritual exploration, work for social justice and equality and environmental concern. Britain Yearly Meeting is us: it both organises our wider contribution to society and nourishes our grass roots.”
Margaret Laurie, Quaker
[Picture by Poppy McGee]
Moving forwards with your support
Despite the uncertainty of the world around us, our vision for thriving Quaker communities and a sustainable and peaceful world remains clear.
Restrictions haven't stopped the work, witness and worship that strengthens and empowers our community.