Here is as view from Sheila, a member from the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney. If
you were there and would like to add your impressions, please contact the webmaster.
After opening prayers, they described what they called, “The Manifesto of Christ.”
whereby we were encouraged to match up to Christ’s will, with the Spirit’s help,
to go out into the world as Jesus did in his days on earth. We should not limit
our activities to the confines of the church or the church hall. Mothers’ Union,
they stressed, is more than meetings. In our time we should be aware of the needs
of others in our communities and become active in meeting or addressing the needs.
If we are to engage in Faith and Policy, we need to pray about issues and deepen
our faith and transform it into action, interacting with others, to share God’s love,
acting justly for those who have no voice. Faith & Policy is, at heart, praying,
enabling and campaigning for or against issues which affect others. These issues
may be very varied, including alcohol abuse, domestic violence, family breakdown,
homelessness, mental health issues, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion etc.
Faith motivates members of Mothers’ Union to be concerned, but also to be concerned
to do something; to influence those in power to make laws which will address such
issues. Governments often discuss with voluntary bodies, such as the Mothers’ Union
to develop strategies to identify causes as well as to find solutions to such social
The MU has been in the fore front of some major social issues such as the Commercialisation
and Sexualisation of children and young persons. Reg Bailley fronted a big campaign
called Bye Buy childhood which has raised the awareness of this issue on a big scale.
Issues such as inappropriate access to internet sites showing pornographic images,
parental controls on social media sites, age related controls on films, DVDs and
the variety of ways available today through mobile phones, tablets etc. where young
children may stumble upon inappropriate material are all causing concern.
At local /Branch/ Diocesan level, we need to
Identify a problem.
Think of a solution
Work out what we could do practically
Engage other organisation who may have similar aims...form partnerships with them
Research as to who has responsibility….local councillors? health department? housing?
Think clearly what it is we wish to campaign about specifically.
Decide how we are going to get the message across...e.mail/ letter, petition local
MP, visit MP surgery, etc
Use social media?
Read local newspapers and question the underlying causes of the issues reported.
Is it poverty which has led to theft, homelessness, the need for foodbanks?
What are the causes of poverty?
In Group Discussions members attending the Training day identified Issues in our
individual Dioceses and then reported back.
To take the Diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney as an example:-
The Headings were:-
Identify and research the Issue
We considered how in an oil rich area there was a need for foodbanks and why there
was poverty. We were aware of considerable poverty amongst the affluence.
We felt that we needed to challenge Westminster government and The Scottish Parliament
and/or local government to look at issues such as the Bedroom Tax, Zero hours contracts,
Disabled benefits (or lack of them) Discrimination over Free school meals and the
very high cost of Child Care.
Where might you look for information?
To research these issues, we would listen to a wide range of radio and TV programmes,
Read a range of different newspapers, real or on line, question Local authorities
which have or should have responsibility for the poor, especially for youngsters
unable to get work, the elderly in need of care and those with mental health problems
or addictions. We would also seek to share with friends, neighbours, colleagues
and members of our church community.
Identify the change needed
We would try to bring pressure on those in power to change the laws which have disadvantaged
so many vulnerable people.
Identify who you need to influence
Politicians, Local Councils, Newspapers, Influential People
Identify how to get the message across
Write to and visit Councillors, Politicians
e-mail reply to 38 Degrees Petitions, Run Work shops, Use Social Media like Facebook,
Look on the Internet for other organisations, like the MU, who will be looking at
similar issues, for guidance.
It was interesting that the feedback from the other Dioceses was similar.
The whole day was very helpful in that it encouraged us to pray and then work together
to take positive steps to show God’s love to our neighbours, to recognise injustices
and situations in our communities which should be challenged, and by learning the
strategies by which we can raise our concerns and effect change.
I am sure that we have benefited greatly from the enthusiastic way that we were led
through the day, we have learned much and have been encouraged to move the MU activities
out of the meeting and into the community so that we may act justly for those who
have no voice.
Our thanks to Lucinda, Katherine, Rachel and Anna.
A day where we explored how we can impact social policy through faith in action led
by Mothers’ Union Faith and Policy Team at Mary Sumner House. It was held at St Ninian’s
Cathedral, Perth on Tuesday 27th May 2014