JRS-UK volunteer, Victoria, looks back at her summer experience of joining other colleagues working on social justice issues at a national conference.
I went to the National Justice and Peace Network at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick in Derbyshire. We went by car so we could take lots of publicity and craft materials to promote JRS.
The programme was very full and interesting. We had talks from people like Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP, who spoke about her career as MP and the challenges she came across. Gemma Simmonds CJ, Senior Lecturer in Pastoral and Social Studies and Theology at Heythrop College, spoke about priests and the priesthood: how they are looked upon the need for change. Mary Colwell, an award winning TV, radio and internet producer who makes programmes for the BBC, spoke about the churches’ action or lack of support for the issue of the annual culling of migrant birds in place like Malta and France. Another part of the discussion included wider issues of over eating of meat and the ecological impact that farming cattle has on the environment. Clare Dixon OBE , who has many years of experience of working with people in Latin America as head of CAFOD, gave a talk as well as a workshop which I attended. The workshop included a slideshow, a similar one to one I had seen a few years ago when CAFOD commissioned TenTen Theatre (an educational theatre company for whom I also work) a play on climate change called “Degrees of Change”. The other workshop I attended was titled “Community Reconciliation” facilitated by Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal who was leader of the Corrymeela Community in Ireland.
Participating in this event was a new experience for me. And it has changed the way I look at conferences and how they can help networking for both organisations and individuals. Next time I go I think I would pay more attention to the many participants to meet there. Because it was all new and novel a lot of people were a bit of a blur for me! The experience of meeting other people from other organisations & even parishes was special. It has wider value to us as a community because we are seeing the variety of different organisations out there helping: from education through to an organisation that trained dogs as companions to the elderly.
I would most certainly go again. My faith in the past has taken me to Rome, Italy & Lourdes, France & the Aylesford Priory (when I was still quite young & in school). I hadn’t been to a conference for a while either, so the whole experience felt positive.
For more info about the conference: <http://www.columbans.co.uk/news/national-njpn-conference-july-2014/>