by Laurence Hall
At the May 2015 YFGM in Leicester I was selected by my fellow YFGMers to be their representative to Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB). When I was first approached by Nominations, I was a bit confused. Why would they ask someone who was born, brought up and still living in London to be representative to a Northern Quaker body? Yet, as my brain started to properly process this information, as I researched NFPB’s amazing work and, of course, as I discerned the Quaker path in meeting, I came to the emphatic decision to become part of NFPB. I hope that, as I explain why I got involved and why that decision has been proven more and more right in my work with NFPB, you too will want to live the peace testimony adventurously and join NFPB’s campaign for Peace.
First, I should say that although I was born in and have lived almost all my life in London, I was bred a Northerner. Both my parents were born and bred in North West England, along with virtually all of my family. My Northern background really shaped me as a kid going to an inner city London school in which I brought that Northernness to the amazing cultural rainbow that was my childhood norm. Yet, as my mind moved beyond my Northern identity, I realised that it was the ‘P’ within ‘NFPB’ which was really the focus. The cause of peace – that central Quaker testimony – has no regional base, no accent, no cultural exclusivity, but is a universal cause that that must be actively lived by every Quaker no matter where they have been, are, or will be. This realisation of the universality of NFPB’s work, in that the advancement of peace anywhere is the advancement of Quaker values everywhere, made up my mind.
So in June and September, I travelled to Glasgow and Perth for my first NFPB meetings. There I found a new world of vigorous Quaker peace activism with exhibitions, plays, lobbying, demos, lectures, conferences, action groups, donation drives, community projects, nonviolent direct action protests and much more happening all over Scotland, Northern England and North Wales. We discussed national peace campaigns against Trident and the militarisation of education, as well as what peace and security really mean. NFPB’s peace work goes beyond simply campaigning for peace: it also campaigns for the society needed to create that peace. Its long term projects ‘Sustainable Security’ and ‘Building Peace in Diverse Britain’ actively go out into our communities to challenging the social roots of militarism. Where there is activism there are activists, and I met many amazing advocates for peace who have inspired me with their energy and commitment to our testimony. All this showed me that my decision to get involved with NFPB was one of the best I’ve made.
So if you’re a Northern Friend and want to get involved in NFPB’s work, then check out their website on www.nfpb.org.uk, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your area meeting’s NFPB representative. You could even contact your YFGM representative to NFPB which is… me(!) by chatting in person at YFGM or email me at email@example.com.
Even if you live south of the Trent, please spread the word about NFPB’s work and consider doing some fundraising so NFPB can carry the cause of peace further.