London Link Group

Young Quaker London Link Group

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Quaker Homeless Action

For the second year running, London Link helped with the set-up of the Quaker Homeless Action Christmas shelter.

With school having just closed for the term, about 15 young people gathered at Highbury & Islington station midmorning, Friday, 22nd December 2017 and walked together to Union Chapel where the Shelter was to be hosted.

It was again a busy and tiring four hours: moving crates of non-perishable food from the truck, into the building, up the stairs and into the hall; unpacking the crates quickly; unpacking carrier bags of food; sorting piles of pasta, bread, biscuits, tea, coffee, sugar, tins of soups, tins of vegetables, boxes of mince pies, and much, much more into an organised ‘shop’; setting up two tents in the hall for medics, other support services, and changing spaces; and sorting huge black bags of mixed clothes into piles of coats, jumpers, shirts, trousers, socks and other collections.

But there was a lot of laughter and fun, too. The call for “chain” had everyone moving into an efficient, if not always organised, line. Items, from one area were moved to another speedily. Initially, this was from the outside trucks into the building up and around the stairs into the main hall. It worked for shifting more food from another truck down the hall to the kitchen. It worked just as well for moving bags of donated food past the bought food, into a safe, out of the ways pace behind the counter. It worked, yet again, for moving black sacks of clothes from the stage area, to the other side of the hall.

Chain! Worked so well, as we were leaving shelter volunteers adults adopted it. We had all just said our goodbyes, left the building and gathered outside to walk back to Highbury & Islington underground station, when we heard the call: ‘chain!’. We watched adults form a line and begin moving food stuff from another delivery truck to the kitchen, hand to hand to hand…

Much of the food is bought; most of the clothes are donated. Buying food ensures there are common basics that can be given to each guest to take with them when they leave the shelter and for healthy meals to be planned and offered. Relying on donated clothing saves a lot of money but can lead to some very unuseful items, like sleeveless women’s summer dresses!

In return for the hard work and getting the shelter sorted so much quicker, lunch was provided. Pizza had been ordered but there were so many to cater for, the pizza place couldn’t fulfil the order. (In addition to London Link, some parents came, and there were many shelter volunteers, too). So lunch unexpectedly became make your own sandwiches this time. Not unlike our London Link weekend residential midday meals.

The Quaker Christmas Shelter offered at total of 26 beds each night for the week it ran. Breakfast was provided to ‘all comers’, whether homeless or impoverished. A packed lunch was available to take away, as well. In the evening a ‘home cooked’ meal was provided for up to 80 ‘all comers’ each night. There was also Christmas themed entertainment and up to 30 services (e.g. a doctor and/or nurse on site, a hairdresser, an optometrist, etc.). In addition, guests left with food from the ‘shop’ and warm clothing.

Before we left, London Link young people were again thanked profusely, with the invitation to help next year again. So, if you missed out, you’ll have a chance next December. If you did attend, share your experiences so others know what it was like!

See slide show for more photos


Forest Hill

On the 23rd to 24th of September London Link visited Forest Hill Meeting.

After getting thoroughly confused by the new London bridge layout, London Linkers arrived at Forest Hill meeting house. 23 of us and 5 volunteers. As everyone was getting hungry for lunch we had just a quick introduction session.  After lunch we headed out to the Horniman museum, The Museum is a curious mix of collections having been started by Frederick John Horniman from the Quaker family that founded the Horniman Tea Company.llg-dsc02521


We went off in groups to look around at some of the museum’s collections, it was a bright sunny day so we spent lots of time in the gardens as well as looking at the animals.

llg-dsc02524Early evening we headed back to the meeting house for a BBQ, some played games whilst others chilled out. Later in the evening we set up a pop up cinema and watched a film. We had an Epilogue then bed.

Although we had planned a cooked breakfast on Sunday we had a bit of a cooker melt down, so instead we had to make do with just cereal (the horror!).  Before meeting we had some time to hang out; some of the group read through a sketch about going to Quaker meeting. We stayed in meeting for the first 15 minutes, some stayed for the whole hour. As it was another nice sunny day we went down to a local park and enjoyed the zip line and swings.

Once back at the meeting house we were greeted by an amazing spread of a shared lunch which Forest Hill Quakers had very kindly arranged. After lunch we played some more games and generally just enjoyed hanging out and the excellent weather.

We’d like to thank Forest Hill meeting for hosting us, the young people, the volunteers (especially at late notice and travelling a long distance to allow the event to happen) and to Kerri and Jonathan for also planning the event.

Michael, Kerri, Jonathan, Rob, Jen, Simon and Alice



llg-2017-07-15-11-23-08On a drizzly Saturday morning, eight Young Quakers and five adult volunteers gathered at Finchley Meeting House for a weekend residential. Some met at Euston station and travelled together, a few met at the Meeting House. While waiting for the Euston group, introductions began. Along with sharing names, we consider what kind of a sea creature we’d like to be and what our name would be on Mars. After some offerings, the conversation turned to facts about dolphins and stories about the many and varied types of sharks and how they interact with people.

Duly the damp Euston group arrived, unburdened themselves of their luggage, dried off, had a quick tour of the Meeting House, and more introductions and name games took place.
Lunch: make your own sandwich got the chatting going and the weekend was off for a great start. It was a relief to see the sun, and so we tromped off to the local park with space to run around, plays some games and catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while and get to know those we hadn’t met before.

llg-2017-07-15-16-27-32We returned to the Meeting House mid-afternoon for a few hours of playing a variety of board games. We were joined by young and older Friends from Finchley Meeting and elsewhere, and David Parlett, a Quaker Friend who makes games (best known for Hare and Tortoise). He brought out some of his games which were fun and a bit different. Meanwhile, a friendly head-butting game of Monopoly (created by Quakers, did you know?) was taking place at the neighbouring table. Banana grams (a bit like scrabble but you work independently) was popular with a few games happening in the time that the one Monopoly game ran.

In spite of snacking out on lots of crisps and biscuits during the game playing, we were still hungry for supper. A few of us helped in the kitchen to create our gourmet salad and the well-remembered pasta dish. After clearing up, we had a wild game of newspaper hockey. We created our own “sticks” from rolled up newspaper, moved all the Meeting benches to the edge of the room, teamed up, and then wham! It was a fierce game of wildly hitting the ping-pong ball and manoeuvring it past opposing team mates for the all-important scores. When all “sticks” had disintegrated, it was time for a few games of sardines. Shrieks from the shower ended the game. Those hidden emerged dripping wet! Was it a coincidence that only one player remained dry?

Fortunately the sun was out, so we gathered in the garden for a bit of a rest. Sadly the plastic slide and sand table – which belonged to the resident friends’ 3-year old – was off limits.
As dusk gathered, we built a fire in the garden and enjoyed its warmth and light. We enjoyed some mini (and very mini ,mini) marshmallows and then baked bananas which were surprisingly delicious. After a long and exciting day, we ended the day with a calming epilogue around the fire and under the night sky. Finally, off to bed for a well-deserved sleep: divided with a larger group in the main big room and others in the smaller carpeted room.

llg-2017-07-15-22-11-02We were woken up in the morning with some optional tea and coffee and a fabulous full (veggie!) fry up, along with choices of cereal and fruit. Sleeping bags and mats were tucked away in the small room, and we readied the Meeting House for Meeting for Worship.

llg-2017-07-16-13-20-27We gathered as a group in the beautiful garden for our own Meeting for Worship, planned and lead by one of us, looking at the theme of Yearly Meeting through crafts and guided meditation. We then joined the adults for the last part of the hour.

Once the Finchley Friends left, we had a quick lunch of left overs and sandwiches out in the garden with the sun shining brightly. Helen MacKeith, an artist, taught us frottage: fancy word for surrealist rubbings.llg-2017-07-16-14-47-27 The technique was developed by Max Ernst and Helen showed us photos of the fantastic birds and scenery he created from his rubbings. We then all had a go at finding textured surfaces, creating our own rubbings and cutting and gluing to create our own wild and imaginative birds and images. If you visit Finchley Meeting House, soon, you’ll see some of our art hanging on a wall. Few of us finished our creations because all too soon, it was time to leave.2017-07-16-14-00-53v2

We were a small group and for some of us that was a treat. It gave us more time to get to know each other better. We are very grateful and want to offer a huge thank you to Finchley Meeting, especially the friendly and welcoming resident Friends, Jessie and Peter. Thank you, too, to Michael and Augene for organising, and for the support and help of Rob, Katy, and Olivia who stepped in at the last moment to ensure the weekend could happen.


Brighton IV

On the 10th to the 12th of March, 32(!) young Quakers and 7 volunteers stayed at Brighton meeting house.

brighton2017llg-dsc01365With the Friday London commuter traffic behind us we emerged in a very foggy Brighton. Introductions and ‘getting to know you’ were followed by our tried and tested Pasta dish. We played some fun games like sardines and then settled down to an epilogue. After that it was time for bed.

Saturday we had a cooked breakfast (veggie) and had a relaxing morning playing board games and chatting with friends. We then walked down to the beach and pier, after getting into groups we had some free time to explore Brighton town.


Once we had all gathered back in the meeting house we made our own lunches, think “sandwich buffet/factory”. A short bit of free time and then we went to visit the Waste House.


Brighton Waste house

We were really inspired and amazed that an entire house could be constructed from almost all waste materials. Cat Fletcher from the project talked us through the construction and some of the things they learnt building it. For example how the lower eastern wall cavities are filled with 4,000 VHS tapes which is a product that is very difficult to recycle and will sit in landfill for years and years otherwise.

Back at the meeting house we split into groups to play a number of different games, there was Empire, Mafia and boardgames to choose from or just chilling out.


Much curry was consumed

For dinner we tried something new; we all went to a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton called ‘Bombay Aloo’ where they do an Indian style buffet (they had been warned! – we had booked the whole of the upstairs). This allowed us to expand our menu for the weekend to some new foods, go somewhere different and gave the volunteers a break from the kitchen.



Doing some light painting on the beach

After we were all filled with curry we went for a night walk along the beach. Epilogue then bed.

Sunday we were up bright and early (OK, it was just me) for breakfast. Before going into Quaker Meeting we talked a bit about the Fly kites not Drones project.

This Sunday was different to the normal Quaker Meeting. Rather than the children and young people having a separate children’s group after 15mins into the meeting, they join the main Meeting for the whole hour and were lead in a guided activity that the whole Meeting was doing, (often this referred to as an “All age Meeting”).

This was also on the theme of Fly kites not drones. During the Meeting Friends wrote messages of hope, peace and solidarity on kites and we heard some of the struggles of those affected by drone strikes.

brighton2017llg-dsc01470 brighton2017llg-dsc01466

After lunch we said our goodbyes and made our way home.

It was fantastic to see everyone at the event and to welcome a number of new faces too. We’re very grateful for the support from Brighton Quakers, to Sia and Georgina for coordinating the event and Amy, Phil, Sam, Eli and Michael for all their help.

Winterval 2017

13 young people and 4 volunteers celebrated the New Year in style! It was a fun event at Westminster Meeting that started with making our own pizzas (some of them were rather, well, creative!). It was great to see some new as well as familiar faces.

After catching up over pizzas, nibbles and dessert, a small, yet hardy, group braved the cold and had a walk around Trafalgar Square. The rest stayed indoors and played games like Mafia. When the walking group came back, they joined in with the games.
Thank you to all young people, volunteers and Westminster meeting for hosting us.
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