On Saturday 11th June 2022, justice seekers and experts by experience joined together online and on site at Oasis Academy South Bank, London, for the Joint Public Issues Team’s ‘From the Ground Up’ conference. It was the first time that many people had been able to gather for such an event since our 2020 conference in Derby. This year, the innovation of a strong online community, facilitate by Zoom and Slack, enabled people from far and wide to engage and network without the inconvenience and cost of travelling.
We endeavoured to tackle the questions:
- As the rising costs of living impacts families across our communities, what does it mean to seek justice?
- As war rages and refugees are met with hostile policies, where can we unearth hope powerful enough to bring change?
- When politics and international events make us feel angry or powerless, what can we discover by starting locally?
We were joined by:
- Matthew Van Duyvenbode (CSO of the Trussell Trust)
- Zrinka Bralo (CEO of Migrants Organise)
- Revd Al Barrett (Hodge Hill Church, Birmingham)
- Bishop Mike Royal (General Secretary of Churches Together in England)
- Sir Simon Hughes (Chancellor of London South Bank University; Former Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats)
- Cllr Isy Imarni (Dacorum Borough Council, Hertfordshire)
We had gifted workshop facilitators covering issues such as refugees, racial justice, climate, healthcare, community organising, theology, tax justice, peacebuilding, housing justice and poverty.
There was also a joyful abundance of ‘marketplace stalls’ representing organisations such as Action for Children, All We Can, Christian Climate Action, Christian CND, Church Action for Tax Justice, Church Action on Poverty, Climate Stewards, Commitment for Life, ECCR, Fairtrade, Green Christian, Hope for the Future, Jubilee Plus, Just Love, New Housing Hub, Operation Noah, Traidcraft Exchange, Trussell Trust and Welcome Churches.
Our hope was that everyone who attended would be inspired and re-energised to speak, pray and act boldly for peace and justice. Below, you can taste a flavour of our day, featuring some of the items experienced in the ‘Town Hall’ and in the online ‘Studio’. All of these items are available on our YouTube channel. You will also see Eunice’s ‘Beatitudes’ prayer, which closed our conference.
Thank you to everyone who generously gave their time and talents to make our conference happen.
‘From the Ground Up’ beatitudes
written by Deacon Eunice Attwood
Blessed are those who recognise the boxes they trapped in,
for they have an opportunity to open up their lives to others.
Blessed are the grounded,
for they will see reality.
Blessed are those who join the work of challenging unjust structures,
for they will be beacons of hope.
Blessed are those who amplify the voices and stories of others,
for they will learn the wisdom of interdependence.
Blessed are those who recognise their vulnerability and brokenness,
for they will resist being the saviours and heroes of other people’s stories.
Blessed are those who name the pathology of the church,
for they will offer a prophetic vision of the future.
Blessed are those who rage with anger,
for they challenge us to face uncomfortable truths on the path to redemption.
Blessed are those who respond to the needs of others, without the need for recognition or reward,
for they serve Christ himself.
Blessed are those who work for racial justice,
for they challenge the sin of racism.
Rejoice and be glad for unearthing hope and seeking justice
nurtures the Kingdom of Heaven here and now on God’s Earth.
Siggy Parratt-Halbert kindly made some visual minutes of our time together.