London Link Group

Young Quaker London Link Group

Spring link – St.Albans

On a not-quite spring 3-5th of March 13 young people and 5 volunteers from across the south gathered in St.Albans Quaker Meeting House.

Although tired out by the week, our energy levels were soon replenished by seeing friends new and old.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/camperdown/

For dinner we had a curry of coconut dhal, vegetable curry, pakoras and rice that filled us up. After that meal’s washer-uppers had finished we settled down to watch a film on the projector in main meeting room. We had a short candle lit epilogue and then bed.

At the crack of 8:30am we tided up and joined together to have a veggie cooked breakfast. For one particular participant the morning also marked the dawn of a new age, …age 15. Happy Birthday! In terms of getting up throwing birthday balloons at each other proved very effective.

The first activity of the day was free time in the historic town of St.Albans, with attractions such as the charter market, Roman ruins, a cathedral and the ever popular Tesco Metro and Wilko stores providing places to visit – everyone found something to enjoy.

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St.Albans Meeting House is conveniently located close to the town centre, for several hours we opened our exclusive artisan (crisp sandwich anyone?) sandwich shop for participants to drop in. This was also a good opportunity to sing happy birthday and dive into to birthday cake #1.

After letting lunch digest, a few of the participants and 3 of the volunteers went to the leisure centre to try our wits at crossing the inflatable obstacle course. Volunteers struggling with the er…agility, benefited from nice team efforts.

Stock photo © St.Albans Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre

Once everyone was back there was time for some games before starting the main theme session on “What makes you, you? Exploring the world of our own identities”. We talked about about what is an identity and the protected characteristics in law. We went on to try to map out our broader identities with post-its. The meeting house floor was covered with colourful clusters of posits, reflecting the differences and similarities between us.

How can we make the meeting a community in which each person is accepted and nurtured, and strangers are welcome? Seek to know one another in the things which are fundamental, bear the burden of each other’s challenges and uphold one another. As we enter with tender sympathy into the joys and sorrows of each other’s lives, ready to give help and to receive it, our meeting can be a channel for love.

Adapted version of Advice & Queries 18

A made-up example

After consent from the group we wandered around the room looking at what people had chosen to put. A very deep respectful silence was experienced whilst we were doing this, perhaps reflecting the braveness, honesty and vulnerability we were all experiencing. We considered the questions of whether the identities we express change depending on who we’re with or where we are. What parts of our identities change over time and what stays the same. How do we make sure our identities don’t divide us.

It felt like a safe and spiritually connected time.

After some refreshments the volunteers set about making dinner, while the young people organised themselves into playing various games around the meeting house.

A dinner of pasta, pesto, broccoli and tomato was demolished. Cake #2 gently lead us to our open-mic evening, with an eclectic mix of talented and entertaining performances.

Epilogue followed. With a reading:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

A Return To Love” by Marianne Williamson.

The next morning we got up and reassembled the Meeting House. A very long running cooked veggie breakfast got our hearts, stomachs and minds prepared for Quaker meeting. Some stayed in Meeting whilst others joined a group making clay models.

A lunch of left overs and sandwiches, a few last games and we were ready to head home.

London Link would like to thank St.Albans Quaker meeting for welcoming us again, shifting around bookings and generally letting us make the house our home for the weekend.

Thank you to all the participants and volunteers for an excellent weekend. – Michael, Philip, Amy, Rob and Margarita

Event announcement: Spring!

Announcing the first London Link Group residential of 2023!

The theme:

“What makes you, you? Exploring the world of our own identities”.

This link group event we’ll be joined by members of the local Luton and Leighton Area Meeting Link group! welcome!

Booking is now open! Please use this link

Who:

Young People connected with Quakers aged 11-18

When:

3rd to the 5th of March 2023

What:

Here is the rough timetable (to be confirmed nearer the time)

Friday:

  • Arrivals from 6pm direct to the Meeting House OR Travel with (volunteer escorted) group meeting at 6pm in London
  • Welcome!
  • Dinner
  • Film night (theme related)
  • Epilogue
  • Sleeeeeep

Saturday:

  • Breakfast
  • Make a pack lunch
  • Free time, Trip into St.Albans in groups and/or Swimming (see also: massive inflatables, opportunity to shower), other alternatives possible
  • Tea back at the Meeting House
  • Theme activity – What makes you, you? Exploring the complex world of our own identities
  • Break
  • Dinner
  • Games
  • Epilogue
  • Sleeeeeep

Sunday:

  • Breakfast
  • Quaker Meeting – option to join for full or first 15min
  • Lunch
  • Pick up from 3pm from the Meeting House OR 3pm group heads back to London

This event is “indoor camping”, you will need a sleeping mat, a pillow and all the usual things for a weekend away. Reminder: If you’d like to go swimming please don’t forget to bring your swimming things.

All the food will be vegetarian or vegan. Please make sure to put dietary requirements on the booking form.

The cost is £10, it is London Link Group policy that no one should be prevented due to cost. Please let us know on the booking form if you’d like to have a bursary.

How:

Booking is now open! Please use this link

Please contact us clerk@londonlinkgroup.org.uk if you’ve not received the details already.

Other info:

Please make sure to remain vigilant with regards to coronavirus infections, if the participant has any symptoms please check and contact us.

London Link in Brighton

On 7-9 October 2022, 14 London Linkers and 4 adult volunteers travelled to Brighton Quaker Meeting for the first LLG residential event in just over 3 years. THREE YEARS!!! We had totally forgotten how much fun they are. 

We took a Friday evening train from Victoria after wolfing down some pizzas at the rendezvous location, and played a few games on arrival. We were impressed to learn that one of our number had a Quaker heritage dating back to 1655 in their family! After hot chocolate and epilogue we retired to sleep on the floor in comfortable carpeted rooms in the Meeting House. 

On Saturday we visited Brighton Pavilion and were shocked at the royal opulence which clashed with our Quaker simplicity. King George IV (Prince Regent during the time of his father’s madness) had an enormous 54 inch waist! He liked his food, music, the seawater and partying in Brighton apparently. The guide said that he would approve of all the stag and hen parties which visit Brighton now. 

We really enjoyed sitting on the beach in the sunshine and chatting/being buried under pebbles/ paddling in the sea (and in a couple of cases being swept over by the waves and totally soaked). After lunch some of us explored the Lanes, others visited Brighton Table Tennis Club, and we met up on the beach again at the end of the afternoon and some of us swam, deliberately this time. A few brave souls took their chances on daredevil rides on the Palace Pier. 

After a Mexican-style dinner of veggie fajitas and nachos, we played Wink Ministry and an EPIC game of sardines — to which we found Brighton Quaker Meeting House is ideally suited. 

On Sunday morning we joined Brighton Friends in their meeting for worship, and learned from Helen Ledger about the inspiring work the meeting is doing with refugees and asylum seekers who are held in poor conditions in hotels for many months, with only £8.40 per week to live on and no access to cooking facilities. The Sanctuary Group at Brighton Quaker meeting enables people to cook meals from their own culture, paying for supplies and offering friendship and excellent kitchen facilities. 

We had a shared lunch with Brighton Friends and returned on an afternoon train feeling physically tired but socially and spiritually refreshed. 

Thank you Brighton Quaker Meeting and BRING ON 2023 residential weekends!

London Link & QHA Christmas Open Shelter Set Up

We must have broken a record: 40 (!!!) or more London Linkers gathered, sorted and set up the Quaker Homeless Action (QHA) Open Shelter.

This was our forth year, so we can definitely consider it as tradition. But never (?) or at least not often have we reached these numbers! Some “Linkers” brought along friends, or younger siblings and parents. This brought participants up to about 60 people shifting boxes, moving furniture; decorating the hall; creating order to the novels; sorting and arranging food, clothes, toiletries and other stuff. All this hard work aimed to create a welcoming space for homeless people or for those who are lonely, or both over Christmas.

        

It’s had work, yet many of “Linkers” come back year after year to help. And so QHA now relies on London Link to set up the Shelter. So mark your diary for next year!

            

  

Among the hard work, there is always lots of laughter and opportunities to meet up with Friends not seen for a while,make new Friends and chat as we worked. And it’s all for a great cause! Lunch is provided by QHA: hot fresh pizzas! We tried to go vegan but the pizza place didn’t have enough, so there were some pepperoni (sausage) pizza’s too, and salads. (It’s just easier to serve one kind of pizza that everyone can eat.)            

Sadly, because of lack of volunteers the Shelter was only open a few days, rather than the full week it usually is. And, it was not 24-hours like previous years. So, those of you who are ‘graduating’ out of London Link, make a note: QHA welcomes volunteers 18+! Next year, you could be helping in the Shelter. And maybe giving the time you would have been with London Link to other worthy causes and charities.

If you know of any charities or groups that would welcome London Linkers help, let us know. Send a message to clerk@londonlinkgroup.org.uk

    

It was gratifying to see such a wide age range, right from those who were 11 years old and attending a London Link event for the first time. One such new “Linker” reported “Everyone was so nice!” and wants to return next year!

    

  

 

This QHA Shelter is a space where volunteers offer a welcomed and kindness, and food, clothes and shower (for those wanting). Unlike most winter shelters, the QHA shelter welcomes guests with their dogs. The QHA mobile library is parked at an entrance, For the second year we were at the American International Church, Tottenham Court Road

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.  Hope to see you next year!

Augene, Rebecca, Alan, Michael, Sally, Krishna, Fred, Georgina

Epic in Epping

Young Quakers from LLG attend climate strike earlier in the day

On the 20th – 22nd September London Linkers Gathered in Epping. We had one of our most ambitious and “logistically heavy timetable” – Michael Wood events planned, and we’re happy to say we succeeded, with the assistance of 7 brilliant volunteers, in showing 14 “Linkers” not 1, not 2 but 3 centuries worth of delight in Essex in a weekend that utilised 5 trains, 3 buses, and 1 (not so) secret nuclear bunker!

Epping Meeting (established in the 1700’s) offered to host London Link in their beautiful Meeting House situated in the Market Town of Epping. The fun started on the Friday night with a tasty pasta dish (with roasted broccoli proving an unexpected hit with the young folk), games and a peaceful Epilogue.

Metropolitan number 1

An solid (veggie) cooked breakfast gave everyone the energy they needed to make the early start on Saturday – with a huge stack of sandwiches being constructed around the tidying up. We made it to the bus stop on time and all (just about) piled on to the vintage (Routemaster) 339 bus with a group of

Morris Dancers(!) for the pretty journey to our destination – the historic Epping and Ongar Railway where we spent a happy 20 minutes at the North Weald Station admiring the trains, architecture, Morris Dancing and the gift and tuck shops (we won’t let on to parents and carers quite how many snacks were purchased but it is was all for a good cause).  An 1800’s steam engine (Met 1) (perhaps appreciated more by the older members of the group) conveyed us to Ongar Station where a mad dash got us back on the 339 for a trip to the 1950’s and a product of the Cold War…..

Picnic at a nuclear bunker

But before starting our tour of Kelvedon’s (once) Secret Nuclear Bunker it was agreed that feeding stomachs took precedence over feeding minds and we had our picnic sitting next to a stack of military equipment (and a replica missile) – not a usual location for Quakers.. Once in, we spent several hours exploring the 3 floors of the bunker which started life as an RAF ROTOR Station, then had a brief period as a civil defence centre, then becoming a Regional Government HQ before being decommissioned in 1992. It was designed for up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the Prime Minister (there were several dummies meant to be representing Margaret Thatcher in different locations which were properly scary), in order to organise the survival of the population should there be a nuclear war. The communications, medical, working and sleeping spaces were fascinating but also quite spooky – though nowhere near as scary as the government information films and adverts telling people what to do in the event of a nuclear war. The official commentary was very dark and confirmed my reasoning that survival might not in our best interests…..

 

Vintage Routemaster bus

A sit in the sun to absorb both the horror, and a piece of flapjack, preceded another bus ride on the bouncy bus back to Epping for a cup of tea, sit in the garden, and for groups of Linkers a wander around the shops. After a full day, Saturday evening was chilled with board games, music and a gorgeous potato and spinach curry.

On Sunday morning we joined Meeting for Worship and many of us then spent a happy Children’s Meeting making cards to thank Michael for his 10 years as Clerk of London Link!

Thank you to Epping Meeting for hosting us!

Next committee meeting we will be planning our programme for late 2019/2020, watch this space! Helping set up the Quaker Homeless Action Christmas Shelter and Winterval at Westminster in the New Year are likely to be the next two events. Sign up to our mailing list to get notification.

We look forward to seeing you all again soon,
Rebecca

Alan, Amy, Eli, Margarita, Michael, Philip (and we can reassure everyone that Michael hopes to volunteer in future events – phew).

 

p.s. Note for parents/guardians – Unfortunately this time there were some issues with respect for Meeting House property in the library/female sleeping area – despite being asked to leave the contents of a cupboard belonging to a hirer alone, after the event we found this not to have been respected, leading to the loss of chocolate and sweets belonging to an Alzheimer’s group who were understandably upset. Please remind young people that they agree to adhere to the boundaries at our events and that we do rely on the goodwill of Quaker groups to host us, which part of this is respecting the building and contents! Thanks

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