London Link Group

Young Quaker London Link Group

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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.

London Link volunteers for QHA setup

A new event on the calendar of London Link in 2016 was helping Quaker Homeless Action set up their one week shelter that runs over Christmas.

20161222_110917About 10 young people and 10 adults from London Link spent four hours – including a pizza lunch – sorting and folding good quality clean clothes into relevant piles, lugging heavy crates of food (that had filled two large Sainsbury trucks!) up a flight of stairs to the hall, and arranging the cans, bags and containers into a “shop”. A few moved a large decorated tree and others helped putting up two tents. The tents provided privacy for basic medical care and acted as as changing rooms to try on the donated trousers, shirts and coats. All this was contained in one hall. Elsewhere, camp beds were shifted and piled up and tables set out for the hot evening meals. 

With the industrious help of the London Link young people, “the shelter was set up faster than any previous year and was better organised,” said Mark, an overseer for the day, when he thanked and expressed gratitude to all who helped. During the week the shelter was open, adult volunteers expected to provide a hot evening meal to about 70-100 people each day for the week, and beds for up to 25 people every night.

20161222_132650The Quaker Christmas shelter runs the last week of December every year, and is open 3pm – 10pm for people requiring hot food, showers, clothes and medical and social support. For those who rough sleep, are street homeless, there are a limited number of beds for both men and women, and a hot breakfast before 10am.

During the induction to the shelter, we were told how this Quaker shelter differs from many other mostly volunteer run Christmas shelters. Respect guides all that is offered. Volunteers sit and eat with the guests, and chat and drink tea, coffee, juice or water with them. The tents provide privacy that all of us would expect if seeing a doctor or trying on clothes. But probably the most unique aspect of the Quaker shelter is the “shop”. Guests are invited to walk through the shop, accompanied by a volunteer, to choose foods they like and fill up to three bags. The trained volunteers chat with each guest to learn of food likes and dislikes and any allergies, and to offer recipes or suggestions on how to make the chosen food last longer. In many shelters, prepacked bags of non-perishable goods are simply given to the guest, so that they have no choice or control over what they receive.

It is hoped that London Link Group will assist in the set up next December. So, if you missed out, you’ll have a chance next year. If you did attend, share your experiences so others know what it was like!


Muswell Hill II

On 1st 2nd of October London link group didn’t go to Salisbury!

With the lead organiser of the advertised Salisbury event put out of action by a London hire bike accident (he’s on the mend), at the last minute we called upon our Friends at BYM/Friends House and Muswell Hill Meeting to come to our aid and help us create a new event. And that they did!

24 young people and 5 staff volunteers gathered at Friends House, London. We used the main meeting room for name games and a bit of re-introductions for the weekend. After this David Irving showed us around the library and took two groups down into the archives to look at some of the huge collection of books, leaflets and other documents going back to the 1600s that have been lovingly preserved.

A highlight was seeing the original books of sufferings, which are the records of all the Quakers who ‘suffered’ for their Quaker beliefs, such as not payingimg_20161001_115055 their tithes to the Church and ending up being fined or imprisoned for it.
We also took a quick tour of the offices of BYM and heard a bit about all the different programmes and work from Sam Walton and Georgina Bailey …and from unsuspecting members of staff passing through!

We had a good lunch at the Quaker Cafe and then a treasure hunt game around Friends House, looking for answers to questions such as “Which other Quaker organisations have offices at Friends House” to “What time is the fire drill practice”. Once all the answers were found we headed up to Muswell Hill meeting.

From there we made the short walk across to Highgate Woods where we played Frisbee, messed about on the swings and generally let off a bit of steam. Back to the meeting house and it was time for dinner. After we cleared up, we split into two groups, one group played the cereal box game and another played my new favourite: newspaper hockey.

We had some hot chocolate before an epilogue and then bed.

On Sunday we had a great cooked breakfast which set us up well for either going into Quaker meeting or for a walk around Highgate woods. The sun came out and we were able to sit outside with our lunch and play a few more games before it was time to go home.

Thank you to Friends House and BYM staff and volunteers, Muswell Hill meeting, the London Link volunteers and all the young people for making it such a great weekend.

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