London Link Group

Young Quaker London Link Group

Category: Past Event (page 1 of 9)

Past events

Hampstead 2019

A group of 8 young people and 5 volunteers from London Link Group (LLG), aka ‘Linkers’ (nickname pending), spent the weekend at Hampstead Meeting House from 26th to 28th July 2019.

The small group meant the weekend was quite casual this time around with lots of chilled sessions and discussions with the obligatory Friday night getting to know you games and use of the many nooks of the Meeting House for a few rounds of the classic Sardines.

After a well-deserved lie-in on Saturday, we started our sessions. The weekend’s main conversations, focused on looking at the upcoming Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair Expo and the mobilisation of people resisting the Expo. We looked at the promotional material that DSEI used, which noticeably omitted the actual use and consequence of arms. We also partook in an exercise where we had to guess the cost of the armed forces and military equipment which was quite the eye-opener. This session opened up lengthy discussions on the high number of recruitment ads that target young people, centring around the supposed attractive perks of choosing a career in the armed forces.

From the alternative perspective, we looked at promotional materials by the network of groups from within Stop the Arms Fair, including Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). From this, we explored how Quakers engage in the activities through living their beliefs and putting their faith into action. We specifically looked at the activities that Roots of Resistance (RoR) will be doing within the days leading up to DSEI. It’s likely that some of the LLG may end up attending RoR with their Local Meetings.

Mother Nature decided Saturday needed rain, which scrapped our plans to go over to Hampstead Heath for a picnic lunch and a dip in the swimming ponds. Instead, when the rain settled, everyone had free time to roam around Hampstead. The evening was another chilled affair with more classic LLG games and board games.

As always, it was a pleasure to attend Meeting for Worship with Hampstead on Sunday, ending the weekend in the late afternoon. Over the whole weekend, suggestions for future LLG were collated. Who knows, we could have Kayaking added to the activities and maybe raisins will be added to the shopping list?

Thank you Hampstead Meeting for having us and thank you to the volunteers and the young people for a wholesome weekend.

Until next time!

Sally, Amy, Tas, Nick, Sue

Brighton V

On the 15-17th March 2019, 21 young people and 5 volunteers met for London Link Group Brighton 2019!

This event coincided with the international climate strike that was organised on the Friday 15th. We were all impressed to hear stories of this march and glad that members of London Link Group could help bring young Quakers together for it. We headed off to catch a train, a few snacks-to-boost-our-energy-levels later we arrived in Brighton Meeting House to the welcome of local Brighton Young Quakers, the meeting house and dinner.

Our theme for the weekend was ‘Welcome’, so this not being lost on us… we welcomed everyone to the event! it was great to have a number of new faces with us. We didn’t have long left of the day so we had an Epilogue (a short reflective evening Quaker meeting) and then a bit of free time and bed.

Saturday Breakfast filled us with veggie sausages, scrambled tofu, potato waffles, toast and beans!  We then ran a marathon workshop, based on a resource from Becoming Friends Together . We considered ‘what makes a good welcome’. From exchanging smiles, reaching out to people, asking how they are, to making sure there is always a space for someone to join a group (e.g. sitting in croissants not doughnuts!  O ⇒ C ).

After this we ventured out into a very windy Brighton and in groups went to explore. The young people having exhausted Brighton of it’s cultural, arts, architectural and historical sights (or was it Tescos? I forget..) and the volunteers having drunk all the teas and eaten all the cakes, gathered back at the meeting house for lunch, that being a wrap we had a little more free time until gathering again to hear from two young people who came to the UK as refugees.

Supported by the The Humming bird project they spoke movingly about their journey to the UK from Syria, the incredible danger of their journeys, such as hiding in lorries headed for the UK and the treatment they had in Calais by police. We were shocked that even in a welcoming (to us) place like Brighton they struggle against racist behaviour and islamaphobia on a daily basis, keeping themselves only just afloat with the money they are given to survive on compounded by the difficulty to get any work because of different qualifications or outright discrimination.  At least an hour past where you could have heard a pin drop.

Their stories were that of immense hardship and difficulties, but incredibly they still had enough hope and determination to try to live their hopes and dreams. They explained that part of what keeps them going was being able to share their stories with people like us, countering the increasingly hostile environment and being a part of the humming bird project to try and make sure that future refugees don’t suffer as they did. Truly inspirational.

After a break to digest this session the young people organised some games, quieter games like bannagrams, cards and mafia broke way to several rounds of everyone’s favourite game: sardines. Before dinner we practised a song that we were invited to sing in ‘all age worship’  (like regular Quaker meeting but a bit more programmed to help involve all ages) on Sunday. You can hear our second practice of the song in the video below .

A curry dinner gave us the energy for a fantastic ‘open-mic’ session. We had 10 or so brave and excellent performers, including our very own Eli Carjaval performing his own song “about finding those places and people that help you express your whole self, without fear.” A clip of him singing to us also below . Thank you to everyone who contributed and the audience who listened and encouraged so well.

What a day!

A very gathered and still epilogue. Some hot chocolate then bed.

Sunday sun shone in to the Meeting House. A breakfast of cereal and toast took us to joining all age worship which was coordinated to also be on the theme of ‘welcome’.  After this some participants and members of the meeting joined a workshop run by Ben Pink Dandelion about making our meetings accessible and focusing on things that are important.

Lunch time all too quickly lead to saying goodbyes as we left to journey home.

As one participant said “One of the best trips ever, Will enjoy channelling my new found inner Quaker whenever in need, thank you so much”.

Thank you to everyone who was involved and made it such a great weekend.

You’re more than welcome here.

In Friendship,

Michael, Kathy, Amy, Philip H, Alex and Eli

 


London Link Singing Citizens Shanty by Boff Whalley (after Roll the Old Chariot Along)

(@elisongs)

Winterval 2019

On a slightly drizzly Sunday (27th January to be precise), 31 young people and 7 adult volunteers gathered in Westminster Meeting House for the first ever joint London Teenage Meeting and London Link Group Winterval extravaganza!

Buoyed by biscuits and the hopes of a New Year, Friends regathered and exchanged stories before gathering for worship planned by the Clerks of London Teenage Meeting. Some classic icebreaker games followed, before most decided to brave the rain and take a guided walk around the surrounding London streets.
Having worked up an appetite, we all then took a culinary adventure and made our own pizzas. Whilst some were more artistically presented than others, all were delicious and there was more than enough vegan cheese to go around. Special shoutout goes to the kitchen clean up team who left it sparkling.

Far too soon, it was time to say goodbye and we parted with bonds strengthened and looking forward to seeing each other again in March.

– Georgina

QHA Setting up the Christmas Shelter

We were in a new space but, as with last year and the year before, setting up the Quaker Homeless Action Christmas Open House included a lot of fun, laughter, a yummy lunch (pizza, cake and cookies!). This over a six hour day of hard work lugging boxes, moving furniture, sorting (mostly new) clothes and (mostly tin) food, scrubbing and cleaning the loos and shower cabin, putting up tents (inside!) and making and decorating the hall and night space (a smaller portacabin).

With the new location, at the International Church near Goodge street, there were new challenges. The ‘chain’ (of people passing delivered boxes and food stuff) had to be longer. It led from the street, down cold metal stairs, to not just one but many different locations! Some stuff went straight to the kitchen, other stuff continued through the hall up a few stairs to a storage space on a stage, and other stuff was detoured to the room that would later become a ‘shop’ of food and clothes.

A different chain was made to direct stuff straight to the big hall. The hall was much larger and when we arrived couches, chairs and tables were piled near the entrance. Walls were bare and the space felt drab and unwelcoming.

When we finished six hours later, tables were laid out ready for the next day’s arrival of lonely and homeless people. They would have a warm, friendly place to eat, play board games or cards, and paint or draw. With lots of heaving, pushing and pulling, welcoming spaces had been created by moving comfortable lounge chairs and the couches into position, and seasonal decorations put on the wall. A Christmas tree with bright lights and baubles graced one side of the room, and throughout the room chains of peace doves had been threaded together and hung by patient and nimble fingers! (The origami doves were donated by Quaker Peace & Social Witness staff at Friends House.)

 

Down the hall, the room that had been overfilled with scattered boxes of clothes and piles of food was now sorted into an orderly ‘shop’ with items stacked on and under long tables. In the week to come, homeless people would be guided through to choose food and suitable clothing.

The Open House shelter ran 23rd to 30th December. Unlike other winter shelters, this Quaker space welcomed guests with dogs and was open and serving food around the clock.

Quaker Homeless Action has come to rely on the energy and commitment that London Link folk give to setting up the Open House shelter over Christmas. Noel, from QHA, profusely thanked all the young people for giving up their first Saturday of their Christmas holiday. “Without you, we’d really struggle to get this set up on time,” he said.

Here’s looking to next December! This is an event when London Link graduates (those beyond the 18 year old limit) are welcome! And if you’ll be 18-years old or older next December 2019, you could also volunteer with QHA when the shelter is open and welcoming homeless and lonely people over the holiday season.

We also managed to get into The Friend, 2nd February 2019.

– Augene

Salisbury

Day breaks, the light piercing the thin cotton veil in front of the library window of the old Meeting House. The smell of slightly charred toast fills the air, expertly mingled with the scent of too-much-Lynx. Quiet whispered jokes and chides quickly turn full volume before 8 AM, jarring the dozing out of whatever simulacrum of sleep they attempted to steal while splayed across a tiny couch like a crash test dummy. It’s London Link residential weekend.

Collecting the lion’s share of the young people at a Pizza Express near Waterloo on Friday evening, three volunteers (this author included) corralled the parade onto the train after a hearty meal, bound for Salisbury. Arriving at the meeting house well after dark, and having eaten already, we began to introduce ourselves to one another through a series of games led by volunteers. With everyone firm friends, the allocation of sleeping space became the next priority, and some enterprising young people elected to try and cobble the meeting houses various couches and armchairs into a bed. Impromptu blankets were fashioned from yoga mats, aprons, and everything in between. We all participated in that evening’s epilogue, which was set in the beautiful small garden behind the Salisbury meeting house, with enough benches for all.

The morning saw a full vegetarian cooked breakfast, much to the delight of young person and volunteer alike. We formed small groups and set off for the delightful market in the centre of town. Volunteers could be seen wandering through the artisanal cheese stalls and local bakery tables of the quaint market; Tiger and Tesco captured the imagination of the young people more thoroughly. The whole group rendezvoused at the Meeting House and enjoyed an enlightening talk by Chris Mould, who worked for many years with the Trussell Trust. He shared stories about his work in food banks and with young people, and helped start conversations with such large questions as “What do you want to do with your life?” Afterwards we shared a large lunch of vegetarian Bolognese, gathering our strength for the excursion to come.
Venturing out of the meeting house after our pasta lunch, we journeyed the 10 minutes to Salisbury cathedral. By this time, the weather had turned sour, and many lamented their lack of waterproof jackets and shoes. The meeting house generously provided umbrellas, which the lamenting gladly accepted. Upon arriving at the cathedral, we formed two groups and were duly shown the intricate features of this historic building by the volunteer tour guides there. Some young people expressed some fear at the notion of ascending 68 meters up medieval and Victorian staircases and wooden beams, but all made it to the top to take in the marvellous (if wet) view.

By this time, everyone was damp, and a bit tired, and so the general call for tea and biscuits was well received. We walked a short distance across the cathedral grounds to find a very warm reception at South Canonry, the home of the parents of two of our volunteers! Helen, with expert assistance from her young grandchildren, had whipped up enough chocolate muffins and tea to slake the thirst and quell the rumbling stomachs of 18 teenagers – no mean feat. The young people enjoyed playing classic games like pick-up sticks and ring-toss in the drawing room, since the weather precluded any fun in the garden. Once we’d warmed ourselves on the soft sofas, and the muffins injected us with much-needed energy, we gave a large thank you and a fond farewell to the Holtams and departed South Canonry for the meeting house. Soggy once more upon arrival, we spent the rest of the evening enjoying a dinner of potatoes and aubergine chilli, and various games and free time.

The following morning, a continental breakfast of toast and cereal replaced the full cooked breakfast, and the entire group set to work cleaning the meeting house and getting it ready for the arrival of Salisbury Friends. Many a parent would doubtless shed a tear of joy at the sight of a dozen teenagers hoovering, scrubbing, and tidying. Once we finished cleaning the meeting house, Friends began to arrive. The group was given the option of staying for the full Meeting for Worship, or embarking out into the downpour on a walk around the town. Those that braved the rain joined the meeting towards the end, along with the few children who attended the children’s meeting. Each young person and volunteer added their name to the visitor’s book, which dates from 1938, and after notices, we shared a delicious curry lunch kindly given to the meeting by a local chef de cuisine. After our Friends had left we found ourselves with a few hours remaining before we had to catch the train, and played a variety of games in the main meeting room. From there to Salisbury station and beyond, as we said goodbye to another residential weekend.

It was this author’s first experience of London Link, and of the residential programme. I was delighted to find a rich community of young Quakers, with clear history and deep friendship amongst its members. Despite this bond that had been forged over many such events, I was readily welcomed into the fold and embraced with genuine kindness. I am deeply grateful for the experience and for the efforts of my fellow volunteers, as well as the help and fun created and shared by all members of the London Link Group.
Naturally, we would also like to extend our warmest thanks to Nick & Helen Holtam for opening their home to us, as well as Salisbury Friends for trusting us with use of their beautiful meeting house. We hope to see them all again soon.

Volunteers Phil, Matt, Kathy Georgina, Alex and David behind the camera

Report by Alex

p.s. Find out more about the Shoe box appeal that Chris Mould spoke about

 

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