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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 169 NO 20
3 Living wage campaign 4-5 Marching truth to power Symon Hill 6 The nuclear threat John Anderson 7 The testimonies: a theological muddle John Lampen 8-9 Letters 10-12 Interview: Jennifer Kavanagh 13 Pharaoh’s dream Faith Kendrick 14 Writing the Spirit Jane Mutisya 15 Learning to turn the tide Ann Johnson 16 Q-eye 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: Demonstrators at ‘The Hardest Hit’ demonstration. Photo courtesy the RNIB. See pages 4-5.
Having a severe disability in my experience meant almost total isolation from my peers during my teens and early twenties. I could not talk with them or go out with them and this had a drastic effect on my confidence and selfrespect. I suffered agonies of repressed sexual longing …
In some circles it is quite impossible for me to get an honest opinion about what I think and do. Any trivial achievement is regarded with awe and anything approaching normality is quite inconceivable. If I committed some frightful social blunder, they would nod their heads and make irrelevant excuses for me.
Enough of such things. You soon 'forget' them; but deep within you burns a clear impression of profound inferiority; of unacceptability; of a need to apologise for even being the miserable wretch that you are and for needing that minimum of help you dare to require. When all this is added to a very real and terrifying social immaturity, where can you begin to hope? … Many people, much less disabled than me, accept the role society imposes, hating themselves and their handicaps, hating to ask for help, hating friendly curiosity and concern, hating to admit to what they feel they are.
All this is a terrible indictment of society but it is not an indictment of the individual. Each of them, including myself, is only echoing the fear and hurt about disability and about their own minds and bodies that they received when they were young…
Everyone must learn to be glad of what they really are and must feel able to ask for the necessary help to fulfil themselves. We are all in this together, handicapped or not. We all need help to be ourselves.
Jonathan Griffith, 1981 Quaker faith & practice 23.37
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the Friend, 20 May 2011 News
Living wage campaign
THE JOSEPH ROWNTREE CHARITABLE TRUST (JRCT) are among signatories of a joint letter urging FTSE 100 companies to support the campaign for a living wage.
The FairPensions organization has just launched ‘JustPay!’ – a campaign designed to increase awareness of the Living Wage and to campaign for a wider implementation of it in UK companies.
The Ecumenical Council on Corporate Responsibility and members and partners, including JRCT, have co-signed a joint letter supporting the living wage, which has been sent to all FTSE 100 companies.
Other signatories include the central finance board of the Methodist Church, The United Reformed Church and the CCLA, a specialist investment management for charities, faith organisations and local authorities.
The letter is written on behalf of ‘a group of UK and international investors as well as civil society organizations’, and urges the company concerned to join others by ‘committing to adopt Living Wage standards in your UK operations.’
The letter states: ‘a Living Wage is the minimum hourly wage necessary for housing, food and other basic needs for an individual and their family. Living
Wage rates are based on Minimum Income Standards methodology and take account of real living costs for essential goods and services in a given year. Within London, the Mayor’s Office announces the Living Wage figure each year – currently £7.85 per hour. Outside London, the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University has calculated a single rate for the regions, which is £7.20 per hour. Accredited Living Wage employers ensure all their own staff and those of their on-site contractors are paid at least the Living Wage.’
Research and business leader testimony has shown that paying a Living Wage is in the best interests of companies. Benefits include stronger staff retention, significant falls in absenteeism, and improved workforce morale.
Guy Stallard, director of facilities at KPMG Europe, has stressed the business benefits saying, ‘We’ve found that paying the Living Wage is a smart business move as increasing wages has reduced turnover and absenteeism, while productivity and professionalism have subsequently increased.’
Being recognised as an accredited Living Wage employer is rapidly becoming an established mark of commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Right to conscientious objection not respected
A MEMBER of the royal navy who objects to the war in Afghanistan is facing imprisonment for ‘disobedience’. Michael Lyons will be courtmartialed in Portsmouth on Friday 20 May.
Human rights campaigners say the case shows that the right to conscientious objection is not respected. The hearing falls five days after International Conscientious Objectors’ Day was marked around the world. Michael Lyons declined to participate in rifle training while applying for discharge due to conscientious objection. His objection was based on both the level of civilian casualties and his belief that British casualties should not be given priority in medical treatment.
The Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objection (ACCO) rejected the application in December and declared the objection was ‘political’ rather than ‘moral’(see ‘Armed Forces Bill and human rights’, 14 January). He therefore remains subject to military law.
‘Ninety-five years ago, the UK became the first country in the world to formally recognise the right to conscientious objection,’ said Emma Sangster of Forces Watch, ‘yet this right still exists more in theory than in practice’.
Government urged to reduce income inequality
OVER FORTY MPs from at least six parties have urged the government to promote policies that reduce income inequality.
They have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 1775) – a sort of parliamentary petition – arguing that ‘societies with smaller income differences between rich and poor have fewer health and social problems, such as teenage births, violence, mental illness and drug abuse’.
Signatories so far include MPs from the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, DUP and SDLP. The Equality Trust say that people wanting to ask their MP to sign the EDM can use a form available on the organisation’s website.
the Friend, 20 May 2011