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Conflict minerals Year of Mercy Domestic violence Ending isolation www.justicemagazine.org Issue 14 June 2016
Portraits from the Syrian conflict. Turn to pages 42-45
Food desperately needed in ‘Jungle’ Long-lasting food is desperately needed in the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais after the upheaval caused by the evictions in recent months. See the homepage of our website to donate food: www.csan.org.uk For information on our advocacy work on the refugee crisis, please visit www.csan.org.uk/resources
THE CATHOLIC SOCIAL JUSTICE QUARTERLY ™
www.justicemagazine.org Issue 14 June 2016
Editorial Justice Magazine is a quarterly publication that reports on and aims to further interest in the Catholic Church’s social teaching. It takes as its guide the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We would love to hear from you with your feedback, ideas for future editions or your own contributed articles. Please get in touch via our website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like what you read in Justice Magazine, let your friends and family know and pass this magazine on to them. Advertising To find out more about how to advertise in Justice Magazine and our rates, please contact email@example.com The next issue of Justice Magazine will be published in summer 2016. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas for future articles or to suggest improvements. Editor Lee Siggs email@example.com 07806 946697 Twitter: @justicemagazine Editorial advisers Jonathan Houdmont Nana Anto-Awuakye Advertising Emma Peckett firstname.lastname@example.org Front page photo: CAFOD/Dario Mitidieri Justice is designed using Quadon by Rene Bieder and Calluna/ Calluna Sans from Jos Buivenga Justice Magazine Ltd, Silkstone House Pioneer Close Wath-upon-Dearne Rotherham S63 7JZ Printed by Buxton Press
he image on the front of this issue of Justice Magazine highlights the continuing nightmare that is the war in Syria. Shortly after Justice went to press, reports came in of an air strike on a refugee camp. People like those who feature in this special report, from CAFOD’s Nana Anto-Awuakye and photographer Dario Mitidieri, were the victims. Ordinary people who have already suffered years of pain as the conflict has left a nation in ruins. What can we do? We can donate to the agencies helping those in need, and we can pray that leaders who have managed only so far to secure a fractured peace may continue to work for the killing to end. Support Justice Magazine Justice is made available for free to help promote Catholic Social Teaching. We have been able to print the magazine thanks to the support of all our advertisers, and we urge you to help them in whatever way you can, by donations or by giving your time as a volunteer. You can also help us to help them by sparing just a few moments of your time to complete our online readership survey which you can find at www.justicemagazine.org. The information you can help provide, including in what town or city you live and your opinions of the publication, can be relayed back to the charities and organisations who have supported us, allowing them to most effectively plan and target their campaigns. Get involved In addition to helping us keep Justice in print, we’d love to hear from you with your articles, opinions and projects that we could report on, such as the Manchester students featured in this issue who are off to Tanzania this summer. Drop us a line with your views and projects at email@example.com Lee Siggs
IN THIS ISSUE 04 06 08 10 12 14 16 18 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 44 46 48 50
Reach out with mercy The power of positivity Support for a living wage Is it my fault? Giving a voice to the hidden victims of crime It began with exploitation Crisis intervention Fuelling conflict Play your part and help stop trafficking Has anything changed? Walking as one with refugees A fast for Zimbabwe New hope, new solidarity How mental health issues can lead to the streets An education in human rights Practical outreach A home for broken souls Cherish our home COVER STORY: Lost families No more just wars Practical friendship and a listening ear The evidence is there JUSTICE MAGAZINE 03
Marcus Mescher on countering the globalisation of indifference
Reach out with mercy MOST CATHOLICS ARE well aware that we are currently celebrating a Year of Mercy. To introduce this jubilee, Pope Francis explained: “It is the favourable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. May the Mother of God open our eyes, so that we may comprehend the task to which we have been called; and may she obtain for us the grace to experience this Jubilee of Mercy as faithful and fruitful witnesses of Christ.” Why this emphasis on mercy? Because, as Pope Benedict XVI reflected in a 2008 homily, mercy is “the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God, the Face with which he revealed himself in the Old Covenant and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love”. In his new book, The Name of God is Mercy, Pope Francis defines mercy in terms of the Latin word misericordis, which means “opening one’s heart to wretchedness”. He elaborates: “Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God’s giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive.” So what is mercy? In English, the term is often used interchangeably with compassion or refers to an act of kindness. But this pales in comparison to the richness and variety of meaning of the word in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the word for mercy in Hebrew is hesed. This word – used more than 170 times – reflects the character and purpose of God. In one of the first descriptions of God’s essence, hesed comes first: Merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6-7). Hesed speaks to God’s steadfast love, a love that is always faithful and never fails, a love marked by loyalty and tenderness – an overabundance that is hardly expressed by the popular shorthand, “loving-kindness” (Joshua 2:12; 1 Samuel 20:14-17; Isaiah 54:8-10). It reflects God’s goodness that endures 04 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Pope Francis Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk for a “thousand generations” (Exodus 20:6) and unlimited forgiveness of sin (Numbers 14:18-19; Micah 7:19) within a web of relationships as part of God’s covenant with God’s people (Leviticus 19:2, 18-18; Deuteronomy 15:4, 7; Psalm 13:6). Indeed, hesed is the very basis for the covenant (Deuteronomy 5:2, 10; Hosea 2:16-21; Isaiah 55:3) and the manifestation of solidarity between people, as the very content of solidarity is illustrated by fidelity and obligation (2 Samuel 7:11-16). Hesed highlights the gratuitous love of God expressed in mercy that endures forever and embraces all creation (Deuteronomy 7:7-9; Psalm 111:4, 136:1; Daniel 7:9-14). It strikes at the core of God’s will to save humanity and restore them to the Promised Land (Psalm 25:6; Jeremiah 42:12), and importantly, hesed is not limited to the human family, as God’s mercy extends to all creation (Psalm 33:5, 145:9). Hesed also defines what God wants from and for God’s people. It defines faithfulness (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:8; see also: Matthew 12:7, 23:23) and characterises those who love God (Ruth 1:8, 2:20, 3:10). The Hebrew Scriptures make clear that hesed is inseparable from justice,
judgment, piety, compassion, and salvation (Psalm 72:1-4, 82:3, 140:13). Some have suggested that the word charis (grace) in the New Testament is a closer equivalent to hesed than the Greek eleos, which has been typically translated as “mercy”. Identifying mercy with grace further sends home the message: If grace is God’s self-gift (or, as the eminent theologian Karl Rahner put it, that which the giver and gift are one and the same), then God makes Godself known through mercy. Nonetheless, eleos appears in the New Testament dozens of times to advance the witness of the Hebrew Scriptures that mercy describes God’s own being (Luke 6:36, 15:11-32; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 2:4) and how God treats God’s people (Luke 1:58; 1 Peter 2:10). Jesus’ public teaching and healing ministry is framed in terms of mercy: It is what he teaches (Matthew 5:7) and practices (Mark 5:19). It is the way to love one’s neighbour and inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25-42), the standard for unlimited forgiveness (Matthew 18:2135), and what makes faithfulness possible (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:1). It is the heart of God’s desire for God’s
people (Matthew 9:13, 12:7, 23:23) and linked to wisdom (James 3:17) and the reason for our hope (1 Peter 1:3). In the end, mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13); in short, mercy gets the last word. In his efforts to encourage Christians to both know and show mercy, Francis calls us to “leave the nest which encloses us” and burst the “soap bubbles” of our own self-concern. He laments the vanity of these isolating soap bubbles, the deceptive fantasy that creates the illusions of innocence and separateness. These myopic soap bubbles sew “wicked anxiety” and “take away peace” because peace – in the biblical tradition – is not the absence of conflict, but shalom: Balance and wholeness in the fullness of right-relationship with God and our neighbours. This is what it means to not just believe in – but share life with – the Triune God who is a communion of love offered, received, and returned.
Instead of casting judgment on the homeless or hungry, the uneducated or unemployed, those struggling with addictions or illness, mercy requires a strong and steadfast faithfulness, tenderness, and gratuitousness
To be who God is in the world is to practice right-relationship (shalom) in the spirit of mercy (hesed). This strikes to the core of Francis’ main themes, reiterated throughout his pontificate: The Church needs to foster a “culture of encounter” in the face of the “globalisation of indifference,” as the Pope has diagnosed the present condition. In one of his most extensive descriptions of what a “culture of encounter” involves, Francis turns to Luke 10:25-37 to contrast the indifference of the priest and Levite with the Samaritan’s willingness to enter into the ditch and draw near the man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road to Jericho. In the final line of this passage, the inquiring lawyer describes the Samaritan’s actions with a single word: Mercy. Some 2,000 years later, we still struggle to practise mercy. Francis con-
tends: “Today no one in the world feels responsible … we have fallen into the hypocritical attitude of the priest and of the servant of the altar that Jesus speaks about in the parable of the Good Samaritan: We look upon the brother half dead by the roadside, perhaps we think ‘poor guy,’ and we continue on our way, it’s none of our business; and we feel fine with this … The culture of well-being, that makes us think of ourselves, that makes us insensitive to the cries of others, that makes us live in soap bubbles, that are beautiful but are nothing, are illusions of futility, of the transient, that brings indifference to others, that brings even the globalisation of indifference … We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.” Encounter is a prerequisite for mercy, the act of “opening one’s heart to wretchedness” as Francis has defined it. If encounter is what fends off indifference, then the challenge for Christians today is to follow the Samaritan’s example to draw near others, especially those in great need. To “go and do likewise” – as the final line of this Gospel story commands – is to employ the “analogical imagination” as theologian David Tracy would say. In other words, this does not mean, “go and do exactly the same”. Rather, Jesus invites each person to consider what “likewise” would imply for their unique situation, their gifts and talents, abilities and needs, responsibilities and opportunities. In general, “doing likewise” involves moving one’s feet, being willing to enter the ditch and take that vantage point as one’s own. It means bursting the “soap bubbles” of self-concern in order to recognise the innate dignity and rights of every human being, reach out and connect with others, listen, share, and cultivate friendship in the aspiration for solidarity across barriers that separate, marginalise, and exclude. Indeed, this expresses the central vision of the tradition of Catholic social thought. Fr Greg Boyle, SJ, has spent the last 30 years working with former gang members in East Los Angeles. He helped establish Homeboy Industries with the slogan “Nothing stops a bullet like a job”. By empowering former gang members to take ownership of their lives and provide for themselves and their families, he is able to cut through layers of shame, hate, and despair. His work is an extension of mercy through two
foci: Compassion and kinship. And he takes his inspiration from Jesus Christ, who, he claims has compassion as “the wallpaper of his soul”. It is a compassion that requires a change in geography, as he explains in his powerful book, Tattoos on the Heart: All Jesus asks is, Where are you standing? And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, ‘Are you still standing there?’ Can we stay faithful and persistent in our fidelity even when things seem not to succeed? I suppose Jesus could have chosen a strategy that worked better (evidence-based outcomes) – that didn’t end in the Cross – but he couldn’t find a strategy more soaked with fidelity than the one he embraced. You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: Kinship. At a recent talk, Fr Boyle clarified that even before we prepare to reach out to others, a first question needs to be asked: “Can you be reached by others?” Counteracting indifference requires bursting the soap bubbles of self-assurance that insulate us from so many neighbours in need. Indifference is disrupted by the questions “Whom do you receive and allow to receive you? And who is left out of this equation, and why?” We will only overcome indifference to the extent that we allow ourselves to be reached by others. This is the first step on the road to mercy. In subsequent steps, the road takes us to stand with those in greatest need: People who are neglected and abused, rendered insignificant or unworthy. Instead of casting judgment on the homeless or hungry, the uneducated or unemployed, those struggling with addictions or illness, mercy requires a strong and steadfast faithfulness, tenderness, and gratuitousness. Instead of turning a hardened heart and closed hand to the marginalised and excluded – or those simply considered “less” because of their sex or sexual orientation, ethnicity or race, socio-economic or legal status, creed or lack thereof – remembering who God is and what God wants requires a posture of radical welcome, unlimited forgiveness, and, in the spirit of mutuality, a change in geography to take the vantage point of the vulnerable and make it our own. This is what it means to celebrate the Jubilee of Mercy: To “go and do likewise” today. JM Marcus Mescher is an assistant professor in the theology department at Xavier University JUSTICE MAGAZINE 05
Keith Fernett looks at the work being done to get people back on their feet
The power of positivity IN MY ROLE as chief executive of Caritas Anchor House, a homelessness charity in east London, I have faced both extremely positive and particularly dreadful experiences over the last 12 months. The charity sector in the UK is facing challenges that it hasn’t before. In the wake of the Kids Company debacle and in a period of intense media scrutiny, trust in the sector is at a low of 48 per cent. A recent poll also showed that UK charity leaders are the fourth least-trusted among the public in the whole world. Almost half of 1,000 people surveyed in the UK gave a negative response when asked if they would generally trust charity chief executives to tell the truth.
is among us, and that going forward, charities will embrace good practice for the sake of their service users. Of course, these issues have deflected society away from the real issues – the people in need and the increased demand on the services there to help. ■■ The number of people sleeping rough in England has doubled since 2010 and increased 30 per cent in the last year. ■■ 50 per cent of rough sleepers have a mental health problem, and are homeless for longer because they find it harder to access support. ■■ Many specialist homelessness mental health teams have shrunk or been closed as a result of funding cuts. ■■ Major cuts to subsequent home-
Anchor House focuses on the people in need It is approaching a year since the closure of Kids Company and the death of Olive Cooke, who took her own life – aged 92 – after enduring repeated requests from charities asking her for money. In one year alone, she received more than 460 requests from 99 charities, many of which had bought her contact details from other organisations. These issues have been much regretted by the charities involved, and I trust that a climate of positive change 06 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
lessness prevention projects began in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and on average, local authority funding for services helping vulnerable people avoid homelessness was cut by 45 per cent between 2009-10 and 2014-15. In responding to these challenges, my role has changed from making strategic decisions to becoming a full-time fundraiser and community activist! Community activism is perhaps on the verge of a renaissance, and is absolutely
vital in the face of all the challenges being thrown in the direction of homeless and vulnerable people. Caritas Anchor House and other organisations, including Citizens UK, have recently been campaigning for affordable housing in the London Borough of Newham for more than a year. Initial plans submitted for the Boleyn Ground development – the former West Ham ground – showed that of the 838 units only 51 (just six per cent) would be affordable and none were to be social housing. As a result of our efforts, they will now invest £90million in affordable housing. This means that at least 25 per cent of its accommodation will be made up of affordable homes, and the local authority now intends to invest £18million to provide an additional 10 per cent of affordable homes on the site, bringing the total to 35 per cent. On the face of it, our community has won a major victory, but the word ‘affordable’ now means something very different. Newham has the highest proportion of residents in low paid work in London, and more than a third are in jobs below the Living Wage. What developers and authorities consider to be ‘affordable’, in fact is not within reach for the majority of people living in our community. There is an acute need for affordable and social housing in Newham, which has one of the highest levels of homelessness in London. As of August 2015, there were 15,721 applicants on Newham’s waiting list for social housing. More than 2,918 of those had been waiting more than a decade for a home, with 3,370 waiting for between five and 10 years after applying. As a result of all of these factors, Caritas Anchor House has received more than 600 referrals for our 118 bed spaces for homeless people in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, as I look around East London I see a forest of cranes and luxury high-rise buildings appearing. Forty-two per cent of the new builds in Canning Town – where we are based – are buyto-let, and many have been sold overseas
Iain Duncan Smith – the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – praised the transformative work Caritas Anchor House does, saying: “It’s clear that Caritas Anchor House changes the lives of the people that live here. They restabilise each resident and give them the beginning of the start of a new life. Caritas Anchor House is more comprehensive than other homeless charities I have seen. They do more than just offer someone a stable base – they address the reasons why there are there, which is very important, and their service provision covers the majority of elements that can lead to homelessness. Caritas Anchor House is intent on positively changing lives, not just sustaining them as they are.”
Keith Fernett and bought as investments rather than homes. I suspect that, just like central London, we will see an increase in empty properties in this area. On a more positive note, at Caritas Anchor House we continue to transform and bring hope to the lives of those who come through our doors. We work with vulnerable groups, including those affected by homelessness, offending, mental health, substance misuse, domestic abuse and unemployment. We work with our residents to address all aspects of their life. We inspire our resident group with hope and positivity, which is reflected in our language and actions. We refer to ourselves as a residential and life-skills centre, rather than a hostel. We have lifestyle architects, rather than support workers. If you take a look at our website, you will see photos of our residents smiling and actively contributing to our community. You will not see photos of people in torn clothes, sitting in a doorway with a
can of beer in hand. As an organisation, Caritas Anchor House is now one of the few remaining agencies of our kind in the London Borough of Newham. While others have been forced to close, we have remained a high achieving organisation, and over the last few years we have won a host of national and regional awards, which reflect our determination and commitment to tacking the root causes of homelessness Last year we were runner up and highly commended in the national Charity Times Awards in the categories for ‘Social Champion’, for the third year in a row. Our awards are a testament to what Caritas Anchor House has achieved through hard work and dedication, but it is the programmes behind the awards that we are most proud of. Our Aspirations Programme helps our residents to rebuild their lives and get back into full time employment and independent living, and this for us is the
greatest accolade possible. In the past two years alone, we gave a home and support to 450 people, with 129 moving on into independent living and 99 securing jobs. In our most recent quarter, we supported 28 per cent of our residents into paid employment – double the national average for homeless organisations, which is 14 per cent. Despite all of the challenges we have faced into, it is a real feat to have remained a beacon of hope for so many people, and maintained such high achievements along the way. I recognise that as an organisation we have to deal with the decisions made in local and central government, but I hope that the people who will be most affected by the changes are considered, and that our society fully understand the implications of such decisions. I hope that my article has helped to shed light on the realities faced by homeless people and the organisations that support them. We face constant challenges – be it the disappearing housing stock, changes to the welfare system, distrust for the UK charity sector – but we never lose sight of the reason we are here: To support the people who need us most; To create positive change to the lives of those who have faced years of chaos and trauma; To instill hope to those that have lost it, so they believe there can be a better future. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 07
The governor of New York in the United States, Andrew Cuomo, is proposing to raise the minimum wage paid to employees in the state. New York’s archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan backs boosting minimum pay to a level that enables families to support themselves
Support for a living wage NEW YORKERS ARE currently thoughtfully considering a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise the minimum wage. When I contemplate issues like this, my thoughts often turn to my visits to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. One place I make it a point to visit is the tomb of Pope Leo XIII, who taught back in 1891 that every worker deserves a “living wage,” which he defined as one which allows the worker to care for his or her family in “reasonable and frugal comfort,” tending to their home, education and health. Then I’ll stop in front of the tomb of Pope St John Paul II, who wrote in 1991 that work was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, the end being the dignity of the worker, the sacredness of life and the ability of the labourer to provide the basics for a spouse and children. I always go to the side altar of St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, himself a carpenter, who raised Jesus in a workshop with a sense of the dignity of labour. And, of course, the high altar, over the tomb of St Peter, where Pope Francis celebrates Mass. As we saw so clearly during his visit to New York last September, the Pope has become the planet’s most eloquent advocate for the rights of the struggling and poor. A lot of people ask me: “Does the Church have a position on the minimum-wage issue?” I reply: “No. But she does have position on a living wage: That every worker deserves one!” Yes, there’s a lot of give and take about the wisdom of raising the minimum wage. To do so might, at first, appear to be a no-brainer, as all can admit that the current level — $9 (£6.40) an hour in New York State — is hardly sufficient to support an individual, much less a family. At the same time, some businesses have brought up points in opposition. 08 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
abused and thrown away when no longer needed. Successful business leaders realise that when they treat their employees well, the morale and production of their workers go way up, as does the buying power of the population, which generates more business.
“ Cardinal Timothy Dolan Photo: George Martell/Pilot New Media Non-profit human service providers applaud a raise for low-income workers while wanting to ensure there is adequate reimbursement to cover increased costs. Both sides should be heard. But not only is it possible to find common ground, it is imperative that we do so, because the status quo is not working. The governor’s statewide proposal is worth considering, because it projects living earnings for 2.3 million low-income New Yorkers across the state. Similar local initiatives also warrant serious consideration. We can all agree that a minimum wage is valuable protection for labourers, and that the current level is too low. We can also find common ground in recalling that our workers not only deserve a living wage, but also benefits in the US to help with health insurance, pensions, sick leave and holidays. The Bible teaches that workers deserve their pay, and that labourers cannot be reduced to objects to be used,
The Bible teaches that workers deserve their pay, and that labourers cannot be reduced to objects to be used, abused and thrown away when no longer needed
As Pope Francis has said: “A just wage enables (workers) to have adequate access to all the other goods which are destined for our common use...Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.” At the recent Synod on the Family in Rome, the bishops were clear that less-than-adequate pay can threaten the peace and security of a family. When the family is in distress, all of us are at risk. There’s already way too much pressure on our families, with evident cultural erosion as a result. A lot of problems in the family and home seem beyond remedy. This one is not. That’s why raising the minimum wage to a living wage is so important. JM This article first appeared in the New York Daily News. Reproduced with permission.
CARITAS ANCHOR HOUSE
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Caritas Anchor House is a residential and life-skills centre for single homeless adults, and also acts as a community empowerment hub in East London. Our driving mission is to ensure that those who walk through our doors grow in confidence and move towards leading independent, self-fulfilling lives. We do this by providing education, guidance and personal rehabilitation.
Caritas Anchor House is so much more than just a homeless charity. In 2015, we provided a home and support to over 210 homeless people, helped 58 into independent living and 36 into employment. However, as austerity measures bite, there is an increased demand on our services and the needs of those that come to us are more complex than ever before. With your support, we can meet these demands and help to change the lives of homeless and vulnerable people.
www.caritasanchorhouse.org.uk DONATION FORM (100% of your donation will go to Caritas Anchor House and you may unsubscribe at any time) By making a donation to Caritas Anchor House, you can help residents to start to address their problems and to put their lives back on track.
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Feature: Domestic violence
Research shows 85 per cent of women have to request help on five occasions before they can access the support to escape domestic abuse. Porsha Nunes-Brown examines a disturbing problem where control of the victim is commonplace
Is it my fault? WHY DOESN’T SHE just leave if the abuse is that bad? Domestic violence only occurs in poorer families. Domestic violence only entails physical abuse. These are just a few examples of the damaging comments people make when discussing domestic violence. There is a common belief that a woman is able to safely leave an abusive relationship, which is completely false. Research shows that leaving an abusive partner is the most unsafe time for a victim, up to 75 per cent of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave their partners. Alongside the fact that an alarming number of women are murdered by their partners, we face a situation where every week, three women commit suicide to escape their abuse. Worryingly, there is also a misconception that domestic violence only affects poorer women. This does not reflect the reality and hides the plight of many women.
Coercive control is at the heart of domestic violence and it enables domestic violence to occur
According to the Office for National Statistics (2015), two women are killed every week in England and Wales and one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. This highlights the pervasiveness of domestic violence in our society and how anyone, regardless of race, creed or colour can be victim of domestic abuse. As a society, we have to pay for the cost of domestic violence with the Home Office estimating that each domestic abuse murder costs the country just over £1 million which equates to £112 million annually. 10 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
The Catholic Church has unequivocally denounced violence against women; “whenever a man is responsible for offending a woman’s personal dignity and vocation, he acts contrary to his own personal dignity” (St John Paul, On the Dignity of Women). Last year, Pope Francis spoke out against domestic violence stating “although it is a symbol of life, the female body is unfortunately not rarely attacked and disfigured, even by those who should be its protector and life companion”. Domestic violence is not a one-off incident, it’s a systematic pattern of control and intimidation having widereaching behavioural, mental, physical and reproductive implications ranging from substance misuse to pregnancy complications. Very little progress has been made in reducing the amount of deaths attributed to domestic violence in England and Wales. There is an outrageous statistic, that on average when a woman has contacted the police concerning domestic violence, she has been a victim of domestic violence 35 times. The appalling level of support women eventually receive after they have mustered up the courage to come forward, is disturbing. Research highlights that 85 per cent of women have to request help on five separate occasions before they access the support they require to help them escape the abuse. This cannot be right; as we encourage women to come forward and be open about their abuse, there isn’t a sufficient support structure in place to provide the necessary care and support. Women who are members of a religious faith can be particularly vulnerable and discouraged from seeking support to escape abuse. A significant minority of these women believe that the support available is not
sensitive to their beliefs, which results in a lack of engagement with services because of the fear the advice and support will contradict their faith. Religious women also fear that they will be shunned by their communities if they take steps to leave their abusive partners. An informed and compassionate pastoral response to domestic violence is imperative, especially in the current context of religious women being hesitant to access support services. Some women may turn to their deacons, priests, religious or lay ministers for support on how to best to handle this emotionally traumatic experience. Securing the safety of the victim and any children involved should be of the utmost importance.
Parish staff require training to ensure theyâ€™re equipped with the appropriate and up-to-date information to assist individuals and families affected by domestic violence. It can no longer be acceptable that vulnerable women turning to their local church for protection are being encouraged to stay in potentially life-threatening situations because of a lack of knowledge by parish staff. The Crown Prosecution Service has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases pertaining to violence against women and girls including crimes of rape, domestic abuse and sexual abuse. In 2014/15, 107,104 of these crimes were prosecuted, an increase of 18.3 per cent and the highest ever in CPS records. Similarly, the numbers of those convicted improved by more than 16.9 per cent
to its highest level ever. It is hoped these latest figures will give victims more confidence to come forward. The Serious Crime Act (2015) was heralded as a great mark of progress, with legislation explicitly criminalising coercive or controlling behaviour perpetrated against an intimate partner or family member. Coercive control is at the heart of domestic violence and it enables domestic violence to occur. With the introduction of the Serious Crime Act, investment in education is needed. Judges, magistrates, parish staff, health and social care professionals and the police need to be fully aware of the signs of coercive control and how better to support these individuals. Although the amount of domestic vi-
olence cases is increasing, it is important to remember that we are still at the tip of the iceberg, with under-reporting and low conviction rates being key barriers to justice. The CPS is working towards victims of domestic violence not having to provide evidence in court, which can be an emotionally distressing experience. The change in law is welcomed, but the law is only the beginning stages of creating a society where women and young girls do not have to live in fear of violence. While all women experiencing domestic violence undergo considerable stress and trauma, there are special support needs for Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME), disabled and older women who are presently being neglected. Research shows BAME victims are almost a third less likely to report abuse to police and nearly a quarter experience abuse from multiple perpetrators. There is also a gap in the support provided for older women. More than 25 per cent of women older than 50 have lived with abuse for more than 20 years. We need to move towards having a support system that provides and delivers personalised and tailored care to reflect specific needs such as age, socio-economic background or race. Continued support, beyond helping a woman out of the abusive relationship, should be integral to any support programme. For the women that are able to escape abusive relationships, the journey of rebuilding their life is fraught with physical and mental health challenges, which require support and accompaniment. This journey can often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance misuse. We cannot forget the equally devastating consequences of lost opportunities and wasted potential which significantly hinders their ability to secure meaningful employment. We cannot shy away from the fact that domestic violence is about gender and the unequal power balances between men and women. As a society, we must hope that we begin to move away from the commonly asked question of why she doesnâ€™t leave, but asking the real question of why he doesnâ€™t stop JM Porsha Nunes-Brown works with CSAN If you have been affected by domestic violence and need to talk to someone, please call the 24 hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline at 0808 2000 247. JUSTICE MAGAZINE 11
Katherine Copperthwaite reports on schemes designed to help youngsters having to cope with the imprisonment of their parents
Giving a voice to the hidden victims of crime IT IS ESTIMATED that 200,000 children are affected by their parent’s imprisonment each year. In fact, twice as many children are affected by their parent’s imprisonment than their parent’s divorce. This figure is shocking, not only because of the sheer number of children who are affected, but also because these children are so hidden. Most children would probably be able to name a friend whose parents are divorced, but how many would be able to name a friend whose parent has gone to prison? This figure does not even include children affected by another close family member’s imprisonment, such as a brother or sister, and therefore the number of children affected by imprisonment is likely to be significantly higher. There is no way of knowing the scale of the problem, because children who are affected by family imprisonment are not officially recorded anywhere and statutory support will only be offered if a child is currently known and deemed to be in need or at risk. 12 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Youngsters display their feelings at a project to help them cope with imprisonment There is no routine identification or information sharing system in place within the criminal justice system, nor is there any organised collaboration with local authorities and schools. The stigma surrounding incarceration often leads to these children feeling unable to share this information with people close to them, such as their friends and teachers. This means that children are unlikely to receive suitable support when going through what can be a traumatic experience. Family imprisonment can have negative effects upon children, and in particular can lead to the children of prisoners doing less well at school. The imprisonment of a family member can also lead to absences from school and can escalate to truancy and even exclusion, which can lead to difficulties with employment later in life, as well as being a factor in offending: Research shows that 41 per cent of male
offenders, 30 per cent of women offenders, and 52 per cent of young offenders were permanently excluded from school. Schools, especially Catholic schools, are extremely important sources of support.
Family imprisonment can have negative effects upon children, and in particular can lead to the children of prisoners doing less well at school
They often are the one place that all children attend, irrespective of their family situation and they therefore have a unique opportunity to make a real, positive difference to children affected by this issue.
As a Church we can improve how we serve those affected by imprisonment in our schools. Schools try their utmost to provide support, however they lack universal training. Pact – Prison Advice & Care Trust, the main Catholic Prison charity in England & Wales, has teamed up with a group of children and young people who have been affected by the imprisonment of a family member. Pact asked them what changes they would like to see in the criminal justice system and what we can do to make their voices heard. The result was ‘Our Voice: The Charter for Children & Young People with a Family Member in Prison’. One of their key wishes was “to be offered emotional support”, including “targeted support” and for “schools to be supportive and authorise time off to go to visits to see their family member”. One of the main learning points from
listening to these children was the need for support from a key person within a school. Pact would go further and urge all schools to develop a school policy on how best to support pupils who have a family member in prison.
As a Church we can improve how we serve those affected by imprisonment in our schools
With the support of a number of Catholic schools across England & Wales Pact has been trialling a toolkit for schools to support pupils with a family member in prison. Pact would urge schools to adopt this policy which will help prepare school communities to support this significant
group of children in need. Pact, along with Place2BE, a leading children’s mental health charity, has now launched a new project to deliver training in London schools on how to better support children and young people affected by the imprisonment of a family member. Pact aims to support schools through the adoption of its toolkit and training or resources to enable school communities to best serve these children, the hidden victims of crime. JM Katherine Copperthwaite is Pact’s Children and Young People’s Advocate To find out more about the Children’s Charter, and give your support please visit prisonadvice.org.uk/our-services/supporting-prisoners-children-andfamilies/campaigns-and-advocacy/ourvoice-children JUSTICE MAGAZINE 13
Greg Watts reports on the migrants crossing the Mediterranean
It began with exploitation WHEN WE SEE scenes on TV of people packed into small boats crossing the Mediterranean we are not seeing anything new. People desperate to start a new life somewhere because of persecution, violence or war in their homeland have often risked their lives by taking to the sea in any vessel available. In 2015, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recorded more than 950,000 arrivals by sea in the Mediterranean region alone. Of that number, 3,600 were reported dead or missing. In April this year an estimated 500 people drowned when a boat hoping to reach Italy from eastern Libya sank as passengers from smaller boats tried to climb on board. This huge movement of people across the seas is causing concern in the maritime industry, which finds itself at the heart of the crisis. In April at the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden, experts met to debate some of the key issues. Among the speakers was Father Bruno Ciceri of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, which oversees the work of international maritime charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS). Following the agreement between the EU and Turkey to send migrants in Greece back, Fr Bruno believes the sea route from Libya to Italy will be very busy again. “These people have suffered already too much, and they are not going to return back to their countries. They will find different ways and means to come to Europe,” he said. While migration by sea is not new, what is new is the scale of it and the trafficking industry that has sprung up around it. Human traffickers have created a lucrative and well-run business out of human misery. And they give little or 14 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
no thought to the safety of the refugees they cram into precarious small boats or dinghies. “Traffickers and smugglers will be ready with unseaworthy vessels to be filled with a human cargo and send them towards Italy without any scruples,” said Father Bruno. “The problem of migrants has been created by the developed countries exploiting developing countries. They have taken away resources and brought war to their cities. These developed countries now do not want to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.” Following the drowning of 400 migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, American businessman Christopher Catrambone and his Italian wife Regina set up the Migrant Offshore Aid Station.
One of them told me how his wife had been shot dead in his home in front of him
The charity operates search and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and has brought together a team of security professionals, medical staff and experienced maritime officers. Since it began, it claims to have rescued 12,000 people at sea. For some of those fleeing war, violence or persecution, the UK is where they want to come to. And according to the National Crime Agency, migrants attempting to reach the UK are paying smuggling gangs as much as £13,500 to arrange their journey. We have all become familiar with scenes on TV of refugees and migrants in the “Jungle” at Calais, desperately hoping to get to Britain, one way or another. Some hide in lorries, while others have
After their crossing tried to board Eurostar trains, or make it through the Channel Tunnel. Now, however, criminal networks involved in trafficking are believed to have started to move from using Kent ports to other ones on the east and south coast. However, not all of those attempting to enter a UK port and claim asylum use traffickers. Earlier this year, Rev Roger Stone, AoS port chaplain to Southampton, met a number of Syrian seafarers seeking asylum when their ship was detained on the south coast. “The Syrian crew were petrified of being sent home to Syria. One of them told me how his wife had been shot dead in his home in front of him. The others said that they could not go home because if they did they would be forced to join the army and they would die,” he said. “Their families are still in Syria but live in a comparatively safe part of the country. Their overwhelming desire was
to be able to continue to support their families financially. One of the crew told me that Syria had no future except being a desert. “The seafarers asked me for advice about claiming asylum. I spoke to the immigration authorities to try to understand the process so I could explain it to the crew. Several of them are now in the asylum process.” Wojciech Holub, port chaplain to Tilbury in Essex, encountered five Syrians on a bulk carrier who claimed asylum. “I spent two hours talking to them and provided them with phone cards so that they could contact their families back home. They were quite distressed,” he said. One of the immigration officers I spoke to told me, “Once you come from a place where there is nothing to return to, it’s no surprise that you seek a new life elsewhere.”
This is not the first time Wojciech has witnessed those desperate to escape their homeland. In 2014, when 35 migrants were discovered in a shipping container on a ferry at Tilbury, with one of them dead, he organised a Mass for the distressed crew. Father Bruno said that seafarers wanting to jump ship is not uncommon. “When I worked in Taiwan this happened often with the Myanmar seafarers, who would then hide within a rather large community of the same nationality in Taipei. And I know that a number of Filipinos seafarers would jump ship in Japan or the US. The port authority and immigration authority in Japan would put the vessel in a sort of ‘watch list’ and on the next visit they would deny the shore leave to the whole crew. “Jumping ship in the US now is quite difficult because of all the restrictions and controls introduced by the Inter-
national Ship and Port Facility Security Code. Life for these seafarers is not an easy one. Being undocumented they have to accept illegal work and often are exploited.” Legislation about asylum seekers or stowaways is quite clear, he explained, and there is very little that a port chaplain can do except to provide material and spiritual support and guarantee that the proper process is followed. To stop the traffickers, Father Bruno believes European governments need to put more effort into tracking the flow of money and gathering intelligence from people on the ground. “The migrants are here to stay and the number of migrants trying to enter Europe will increase unless a political solution is found to put an end to war and violence in their countries.” JM Greg Watts is a freelance journalist JUSTICE MAGAZINE 15
Amy Pether reports on the work of a Catholic children’s society striving to make life better for young people in Essex and east London
Crisis intervention EVERY CHILD SHOULD be loved and cared for, but some children experience great hardship and suffering – from bereavement to bullying, from anxiety to abuse. This year, a report from the National Association of Head Teachers said that one out of five children have mental health problems by the age of 11, and that on average three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health issue. Brentwood Catholic Children’s Society (bccs) provides counselling for children and young adults whose wellbeing, and mental and emotional health, is at risk. The charity works in partnership with more than 100 schools and provides its service on site at schools in Essex and East London. Fortunately, there is a much better awareness of mental health problems today, and the stigma attached to metal health is slowly decreasing. However, the number of children with mental health issues is still a much more serious problem than is acknowledged by the media, schools, families, and by the children and young people themselves. A Catholic organisation at its foundation, bccs was established in 1984 by a young priest, Fr John Armitage. Following the closure of two children’s homes, Fr John questioned what the church could do for local children and their families. With his bishop’s approval, Fr John formed bccs to give immediate, unconditional help and care to those children and families in need. The charity is proud of its Catholic foundation; the Bishop of Brentwood is its president and it enjoys much support from the Catholic community. Many at bccs see their work as a requirement of faith as well as a moral and social responsibility. The schools it partners are a mix of secondary and primary, Catholic and non-Catholic in the county of Essex and East London. It works in areas of high deprivation, and on average Catholic schools tend to contain pupils from lower than average areas of deprivation for the place where 16 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
The number of children with mental health issues is still a much more serious problem than is acknowledged by the media, schools, families, and by the children and young people themselves
they are sited. Catholic schools also contain a far greater ethnic and socio-economic mix than average so bccs reaches an incredibly wide spectrum of children. It also works in many non-Catholic schools and is proud and privileged to provide a caring service to children irrespective of their background or religion. The focus of bccs is on early intervention and working with children for as long as it takes to put things right. Early intervention is about addressing issues as soon as possible before lasting effects set in and damage becomes more difficult to reverse. To this end, bccs strives to provide children with the skills, resilience and support to lead safe, happy and fulfilled lives, employing qualified and dedicated social workers and counsellors to deliver a caring counselling service, which can be structured and intensive where necessary. The charity works in schools because a teacher who sees a child every day is ideally placed to spot when the child is having problems, and bccs is there straight away. Its workers are an important part of the school community and work closely with teachers, support staff and parents. A bccs social worker in Essex shared the details of one of her busy days in school.
‘It’s 8.45am and I arrive at my school to greet a Year 1 boy who is struggling coming into school. The family were involved in a serious car crash and the boy has had a substantial period off school. He is understandably exhibiting separation anxiety from his mum in the mornings, so we spend a good 15 minutes together to make the transition from mum to class less tearful and traumatic. “To start the day we have school assembly – I always like this opportunity observe children. It is also a good opportunity to briefly catch up with parents. One of the mums admits that she has been really struggling financially and has needed to request food parcels – I arrange an appointment to talk and to see how we can help. In the morning I have two counselling sessions with children: One is a case involving domestic violence; the other a contact issue with a mum experiencing alcohol misuse. I tend to use a range of activities and resources from drawing, books, puppets, or often just listening. It is amazing how the simplest of tools can break down the most difficult of barriers. “The children seem to really relish having an adult’s undivided attention and through this we are developing talking skills and making sense of their difficulties. “During break time a pupil has clashed with friends and is refusing to go out to play. English is his second language and our communication if often non-verbal. However, he is excellent at drawing, which makes life easier for me! “We spend break time together in the classroom, considering ‘what went wrong’ and how to have a better afternoon. “I have four individual sessions with children in the afternoon. These children present with a range of issues, including family separation, bereavement and domestic violence, which all have to be talked, thought through and handled in very different ways: ■■Children going through a family separation may express feelings of loss
bccs aims to intervene when problems first arise for their family and their old way of life. They may be also adjusting to new partners and contact arrangements. Such cases may involve some form of mediation between parents, particularly if the separation has been acrimonious. ■■When working with a child who has been bereaved, I will often undertake memory work while their loved one is still fresh in their mind, so memories remains in high definition. This work involves a shoebox full of memories and I often bring family members in to ‘fill in the gaps’ in a child’s memory; this also allows families to talk about their loss, if the subject has become taboo. ■■Domestic violence cases can involve re-visiting traumatic memories with children and making sense of some of the ‘symptoms’ they may be left with, such as flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety. Domestic violence can have a lasting impact on the parent-child relationship. This may be because the parent has been directly undermined in front of the children or because sometimes they are too physically injured to care for children. Domestic violence can also have other impacts on parenting, such as needing to prioritise an abusive partner’s needs, becoming too disempowered to make decisions or self-med-
icating to cope. These cases require joint sessions with parents and children. “After school I complete case notes and paperwork for the day, before attending a staff meeting. I then prepare for the next day with all the children I still need to see, who need the help we can give them.” This example is a typical, if busy, day of a bccs worker and the charity is proud of the work its social workers and counsellors do for children in schools and also outside office. It strives to achieve more for children through its counselling service, and its workers are all experts in their fields. There is an expectation that children in the care of bccs will show the signs of improved mental and emotional health, improved behaviour and attendance in school, a more stable home life and better relationships with family, teachers and peers, among other positive steps. The core work is early intervention mental health counselling. However, sometimes, this is not what is most needed in a school community. This year already, bccs has been there for two schools whose staff and pupils are having to cope with the devastating
deaths of two young people. This kind of crisis intervention is, unfortunately, a very necessary part of its work. In such awful situations the charity feels a duty of care to the whole school community – students, their families, teachers and support staff – and does whatever it can to help everyone through the difficult time. Ultimately, bccs strives to give children the best start in life, intervening early when problems first arise and being there when things seem to be falling apart. It supports children in crisis, and those whose families are in difficulty, it helps children to build positive relationships and to learn how to process the adversity they are facing and how to show resilience in the face of that adversity. It helps young people to learn how to make good choices for bright futures and helps build confidence and feelings of self-worth. It wants children and young people to achieve their personal, academic and spiritual potential and go on to lead happy and fulfilled lives. Its counsellors and social workers listen to children and young people to give them a voice, and it prides itself in the efficient, effective and loving way in which they do this for the children and young people in the community. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 17
Joanne O’Neill and Stefan Reinhold say the European Union must seize a historic opportunity to stop minerals from causing conflict
Fuelling conflict CARS, SMARTPHONES AND laptops are part of everyday life for most of European citizens. But how many of us are aware that the materials used in this technology are fuelling wars, violence and rape in already extremely poor countries? While we enjoy ever faster and more powerful computing systems, local populations in countries such as Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Myanmar are victims of armed groups who sustain their wars through the exploitation of minerals. Extraction and trade of gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten – all used in our electronic devices – provides funding for some of the world’s most brutal conflicts. In the eastern regions of the DRC, the trade in minerals has fomented violent conflict in North and South Kivu for almost two decades. Although not the cause of the violence, competition over the control of mines and trading routes is one of the reasons fighting continues. Rebels and military forces have made millions through illegal taxation and control of the trade while inflicting appalling suffering on local people. Teresa Mapenzi, from Justice and Peace Bukavu, a partner of CIDSE member organisation SCIAF, helps women and girls affected by sexual violence in South Kivu. She told us: “Various rebel groups, both from DRC (Raiya Mutomboki, Mai mai, Yakutumba) and from neighbouring countries Rwanda or Cameroon, come to the villages at night and people are taken hostage. “Men are forced to work on dangerous mining sites in the search for coltan or gold, and women are used as sexual slaves and cooks. “There is no control from the authorities – some even profit from the trade.” Teresa continued by explaining that “minerals from conflict areas are cheaper. But companies who are buying minerals from conflict areas fuel conflict 18 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Mining in the DR Congo, above and right Photos: Roland Brockmann/Misereor and finance war. European companies should source materials in good ways. If things are done in a way that respects human rights and women’s dignity we can reduce this problem”. The global trade in so-called conflict minerals was worth more than €125 billion in 2013, with the European Union (EU) responsible for almost a quarter of that. It is vital then that the EU passes strong legislation that will help end conflicts connected with natural resources, while giving a guarantee to citizens that they are not complicit in violence through their purchases. Already in 2010, the United States reacted to this problem by voting the Dodd-Frank Act section 1502 that regulates the trade of four targeted minerals (gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten, usually called 3TG). With this regulation, manufacturers
using 3TG are required to audit their supply chains for usage of conflict minerals and report on this. Also in 2010, the OECD published its guidance on conflict minerals supply chain traceability. This guidance has become the globally accepted standard worldwide. In late 2015, even China passed its “Chinese Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains” inspired by the OECD guidance. Now all eyes are on the EU which is lagging behind in regulating a trade that creates so much suffering. The EU Commission reacted in 2014, proposing an “EU system of self-certification for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold”. At an early stage of the debate, civil society organisations were demanding that the regulation would be extended to other natural resources, so as to include coal that is for example a source >>>20
National Justice & Peace Network 38th Annual Conference Organised in partnership with NJPN Environment Group * Ekklesia Together for the Common Good
Justice, Power and Responsibility: How Can Democracy Work for the Common Good? How do we get communi�es, poli�cs and business working together for the common good? What role should personal judgement and mutual responsibility play in commercial and social decision‐making? How can we engage people at the grassroots with clear purpose for the long‐term beneﬁt of all? How can we help to encourage a fresh moral vision of a society that has the common good at its heart? Come and explore the possibilities, while celebrating and giving thanks for the freedoms we enjoy.
Speakers include Jon Cruddas MP * Jenny Sinclair (T4CG)* Takura Gwatinyanya (Caritas Zambia) Workshops * Just Fair Market * Programmes for Children and Young People Friday 15 - Sunday 17 July 2016 The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire �or mor� informa�on and booking forms: ������s����and���a���org��k Or contact The Administrator, NJPN, 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX Tel: 020 7901 4864: Email admin��us�ce�and��eace�or��u�
Feature: Minerals of funding for armed groups in Colombia or jade that sustains militia groups in Myanmar. But this request was not taken into account as EU officials kept hiding behind the argument of possible adverse economic impacts. Should EU citizens thus understand that human rights abuses linked to natural resources such as coal or jade are less important than those linked to 3TG? The commission’s proposal was also met with criticisms as it only applies to the very few EU-based smelters and refiners importing metals, while not applying to all finished or semi-finished products entering the EU market that could contain conflict minerals. The original proposal only applied to some 300-400 companies—just 0.05 per cent of companies using and trading these minerals in the EU, and would have virtually no impact on companies’ sourcing behaviour. On top of this, the proposed regulation was only voluntary. Although the voluntary standards of the OECD Guidance have been available to businesses since 2010, very few companies have chosen to apply them. A cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the European Commission in 2013 showed that only four per cent of the 330 businesses studied were voluntarily reporting on their due diligence practices. Recently, Elmar Brok, the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament declared during a CIDSE panel debate that he has “been around long enough in business and seen too many ‘Volkswagens’ [scandals] to know that the value of self-control is zero”. Last year, nearly 150 bishops from 38 countries on five continents joined more than 10.000 citizens from all over Europe to call on the Members of the European Parliament to enhance the EU Commission’s proposal by voting for a binding and effective regulation that could really have the means to address the trade in conflict minerals. In May 2015, the Members of the European Parliament responded positively; voting in favour of a mandatory regulation that requires all European manufacturers and importers of components and final products containing the targeted minerals to check their supply chains. While this was a major step forward, the final regulation is still to be agreed with European Member States and the European Commission. But many EU Member States are now opposing a 20 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Photo: Roland Brockmann/Misereor mandatory law and are pushing for a voluntary and partial system, which is insufficient to help put an end to conflict minerals and give guarantees to EU citizens that their electronic products do not hide stories of suffering. In the aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations, EU citizens as many others worldwide have been shocked by the magnitude of organised money laundering. In the case of conflict minerals, the Panama Papers revealed that tax havens specialising in commodities – such as Dubai and Switzerland – are complicit of hiding gold revenues from dodgy trade partners. These revelations should be another incentive for the EU to react strongly and listen to what more and more citizens are demanding; tougher rules for companies, so as to avoid money laundering, but most importantly avoid being complicit of such deadly trade schemes. As these discussions continue, CIDSE and its member organisations are calling on European Member States to show leadership on the issue of conflict minerals. An ambitious regulation would be a good signal that could participate in reinforcing the trust European citizens have in the private sector. For that, the EU institutions and its member states, including the UK, must back a strong and effective regulation that legally requires all companies dealing with 3TGs to check their supply chains to ensure any human rights risks are identified and that adverse impacts on human rights are prevented and addressed – a process known as ‘due diligence’. This goes alongside a recently passed law in the UK, the “Modern
Slavery Act”, which obliges companies to make sure their suppliers don’t use forced labour to produce goods imported on the UK market. The Conflict Minerals regulation is just a step in the same direction, in order to hold companies responsible for their acts overseas. In his Encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Pope Francis underlines that this kind of approach should be a prerequisite to any economic activities: “In any discussion about a proposed venture, a number of questions need to be asked in order to discern whether or not it will contribute to genuine integral development. What will it accomplish? Why? Where? When? How? For whom? What are the risks? What are the costs? Who will pay those costs and how?” Partners of CIDSE and its members have seen the devastation caused by the deadly trade in conflict minerals firsthand. It is time we all knew where the materials in our smartphones, laptops and other electronic devices come from. Only then can we be sure that we’re not supporting war, violence against women or the widespread abuse of human rights. As Abbot Léonard Santedi, Secretary General of the Congolese Bishops Conference, said during a recent advocacy visit in Brussels: “In Congo we have a proverb that says, ‘One single finger can’t peel a banana.’ Cleaning up trade in minerals must be a common fight of all: Businesses, governments, civil society. In keeping with its values and respect for human dignity, the European Union has a duty of responsibility, and solidarity. Otherwise it’s the law of the jungle.” CIDSE and SCIAF are running a campaign to maintain high pressure on EU decision makers. Through this campaign, citizens have the possibility to sign a letter alerting politicians that they are “deeply worried that the products (they) buy might hide a story of suffering”. JM Joanne O’Neill works for SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund) and Stefan Reinhold works for CIDSE (international alliance of Catholic development agencies) Visit www.justicepaix.be/conflictminerals/ to add your name to the wide list of citizens having already sent a letter to key EU decision. More information on conflict minerals can be found here www.cidse.org/ business-a-human-rights/conflictminerals.html
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Sion Hall discusses the work being done to combat the misery of modern day slavery in Lancashire
Play your part and help stop trafficking WE ARE CURRENTLY faced with media stories and images of thousands of migrants risking their lives to escape poverty and war in order to get a better future for themselves and their families. With the situation in Syria and Iraq alone we are seeing the biggest human migration since the Second World War. This is coupled with daily rhetoric from myriad political parties and other commentators about the level and nature of immigration into the UK. The numbers globally are mind-boggling and with the UK debate so immensely complex, it can feel a bit overwhelming; people might quite rightly say: “What can I do?” My simple answer to this question follows the ancient saying that “whoever saves one life saves the world entire”. This global and national picture is now played out locally and it is here that most of us can really make a difference. So what is human trafficking? An internationally-recognised definition is the Palermo Protocol which outlines the three key elements to the offence. ■■The act (what is done). This covers recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons. ■■The means (how it is done). Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction fraud, deception etc. ■■The purpose (why it is done). For the purpose of exploitation. There are many kinds of human trafficking and modern day slavery which are broadly categorised as sexual exploitation, forced labour (both legal and illegal), domestic servitude and removal of organs. This exploitation is very much on a sliding scale, from domestic servitude to complete control over the victim’s movements. It is important to understand that control over vulnerable victims need not just be physical restraint. Withholding passports and 22 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
identity documents, implied threats and isolation from their family and friends all work to controlling the movement and freedom of victims. As a result of the potential to make vast sums of money, trafficking has attracted the attention of many organised crime groups. A lot of work is currently being done to identify ‘hotspot’ areas of business that tend to attract traffickers. The opportunities are almost endless, however some of the specific areas of concern are around low paid and unskilled work. Apart from prostitution, businesses such as takeaways, car washes and nail bars offer organised criminals the ability to earn large sums of cash through their illegal activities and then try to legitimise it by running it through these kind of cash only businesses. Organised criminals rarely confine themselves to just one area of criminality, and we see that groups involved in exploitation may well be involved in drugs, money laundering and violence, much of which reinforces the control over the victims. Many victims of human trafficking/ modern day slavery are often very reluctant to come forward through fear of their captors, mistrust of authorities or simply because they don’t see themselves as victims. This mistrust in authorities is often greater for victims who have come from countries where corruption is prevalent. Many victims were already (or have become) vulnerable because of learning difficulties, drug and alcohol dependence or mental health problems. Coupled with this are language barriers, disorientation, isolation and concerns about immigration status and it is no surprise many victims go for years without reaching out. This, for me, highlights the crux of where we can all help. Being vigilant to
the signs, reaching out to strangers and reporting your suspicions might be the one chance to save the life of another human being. What can the public do to help? As already outlined, this is often a hidden crime where even the victims are reluctant to complain. The public can help by spreading awareness of the issues and being vigilant to the signs of exploitation, some of which involve people: ■■Being unable to leave their work environment ■■Showing signs that their movements are being controlled ■■Showing signs of fear or anxiety ■■Being subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or their family ■■Being distrustful of the authorities ■■Not being in possession of their passport or other important documents ■■Not knowing the address of their home or work ■■Receiving little or no payment ■■Having limited or no social interaction. Having been born and continuing to live and work in east Lancashire, I have a good understanding of the history and makeup of my local area, from the vast rural landscapes to the industrial heritage of the old mill towns such as Blackburn, Burnley and Nelson. East Lancashire is a very diverse area and here we can’t be complacent that things won’t be happening in any part of the district. However, the main areas are obviously the more populated parts, where cheap rented housing and large companies offering work to low or unskilled people is attractive to many genuine migrant workers. This also provides an opportunity though for the unscrupulous to exploit people. I currently lead a dedicated human trafficking team which has three key
Sion Hall leads an anti-trafficking team strands to its role: ■■Investigation of incidents, safeguarding of victims and the prosecution of offenders. ■■Training and awareness raising of staff, partner agencies and importantly, the public. ■■Building and developing networks to disrupt and prevent the spread of trafficking and slavery. The new Slavery Act has helped greatly in the fight against the traffickers, but in many cases prosecution is difficult because of the reluctance of victims to come forward, or because of their vulnerability. Prosecutions for other offences that don’t rely on the victim’s testimony (e.g. drugs offences) and disruption of their networks are all part of a strategy to help make it a hostile environment for the traffickers to operate in. Some local examples highlight the scale and complexity of the problem. A Romanian couple were arrested for shoplifting in a town centre, however, when they were spoken to, it began to emerge that they were a professional couple who had been tricked into coming to the UK on the promise of legitimate work. As soon as they arrived they were told by the traffickers that they needed to go out shoplifting to cover the cost of travel and accommodation. The debt was enforced through threats of violence to them and their families. The victims were too afraid to go to court, but were offered support
to return home to their families. While unable to prosecute on this occasion, we were able to start to look at the offenders. As with many organised crime groups, the group responsible did not just stick with one kind of criminality and turned their attention to anything that would make them money. When we began to look at them it became apparent that they were trafficking women into the area for purposes of sexual exploitation. Through a number of investigative methods, we established that the main offender was a Romanian male who had travelled extensively around Europe and the UK involving himself in all kinds of criminality, from credit card fraud to sexual exploitation. His latest enterprise consisted of trafficking girls into the country and then advertising them for sex on a number of websites. On the day of his arrest, we found him in a house with a victim who was so frightened of him that she tried to protect him by initially telling us she was his wife. Once we explained to her that he was arrested and she was safe, she began to tell of her victimisation. She was a 26-year-old Romanian woman who relayed a tale of incredible hardship, outlining years of being trafficked around Europe and the UK. She was from a town a couple of hours drive from Cluj where she lived with her husband and two young children in
a one-bedroom flat. Her husband was abusive and violent towards her. She was initially tricked into coming to the UK after a neighbour introduced her to someone who told her she would be working as a cleaner. On her arrival in the UK, she was forced into a life of prostitution. As time passed she was moved around from one place to another and talked about being in Frankfurt, Germany, for some time. At this moment in time she will not talk of her experiences there. Of note, we suspect that an organised crime group working in the Frankfurt region, and who call themselves the Angels, is involved. As a sign of ownership of their victims, they tattoo an angel on the victim’s back. The victim in this case has got that tattoo. She describes being sold for an iPhone and was present while these humiliating negotiations went on in front of her. She talked about being forced to work from 8am until midnight or beyond and was regularly seeing around 10 men per day. We know that the girls were being offered at £60 per hour. The victim was clearly a vulnerable individual because of the circumstances she has been born into. However, she presents herself as a resilient, articulate and bright individual. She was one of six children but states that her mother decided to keep only two of her children and placed the other four into an orphanage. The victim grew up from the age of three in a number of orphanages and, consequently, has had no family support. Since she has been liberated by the police, her confidence to report has grown and she is beginning to open up more around how the traffickers operate and more of her own experiences. Experience of dealing with these complex crimes has taught me that this is not just a police issue, it is everyone’s issue. We need to be pragmatic in our thinking, and we must keep safeguarding at the forefront of our minds. JM
Sion Hall is a Detective Chief Inspector with the Lancashire Constabulary and is responsible for human trafficking/ modern day slavery, child sexual exploitation, serious and organised crime, honour-based violence and intelligence across East Lancashire. He works closely with many voluntary organisations and charities including Medaille Trust and Caritas Diocese of Salford JUSTICE MAGAZINE 23
Pat Gaffney writes on solidarity, peace-witness and the arms trade
Only the names have changed TWENTY YEARS AGO this month I was in Dili, East Timor undertaking a solidarity visit on behalf of Pax Christi to Church groups and organisations working for peace and human rights. I recall arriving at the tiny airport feeling very anxious. In 1996, the people of East Timor were still living under the occupation of their neighbour, Indonesia, a bloody and violent occupation that began in 1975. The occupation led to massacres of whole villages, torture and executions. People were living in fear and I was worried that some would put themselves at risk simply by talking with me. Most of my ‘hosts’ were Church people, lay workers, educators, religious sisters and priests who were living and working to support nonviolent struggle and rights to self-determination through education and community building. Part of the solidarity for me was an acknowledgement of the explicit links between the UK Government, the UK arms industry, the Indonesian military and the oppression of the people of East Timor. From the late 1970s into the mid1990s the UK Government justified its selling of Hawk aircraft to Indonesia. With others such as CAAT and then various Ploughshare activists, Pax Christi worked to draw attention to this trade and its devastating impact. In January 1996 a group of women carried out the Seeds of Hope East Timor Ploughshares action. Having exhausted all the conventional forms of campaigning – letter writing, appealing to international law, dialogue with Government and BAE Systems to stop the export of Hawk aircraft – they felt that they had to take personal responsibility and act nonviolently to stop these aircraft reaching Indonesia. After months of preparation three women entered BAE Systems Warton where they were being made, and disarmed one Hawk aircraft, using a hammer that carried the words “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares” and “Choose Life” on the control panel. They also left photographs of Timorese who had been hurt in violence and a booklet and video about the their motivation. Then they waited, and waited until final24 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Protestors at an arms fair in London Photo: c2002 ly they were arrested. Their journey then took them into prison and it was almost six months before the case would come to trial in Liverpool. I shared this story on my visit. I took a video of the women speaking and literature about the case. I was astonished to find that even in remote places news of the women had spread, especially among young people, who were deeply moved and encouraged to see others taking such risks on their behalf. This to me was real solidarity – forging relationships between people thousands of miles apart, between those who suffered and those who worked to bring that suffering to an end. It made sense of the slogging away to gather information, the campaigning, the prayer vigils, the risk taking. This was active nonviolence, coming from faith and conviction that violence, and the arms trade in particular, must be challenged. Fast forward to July 1996. The women did not dispute any of the facts of the case, they owned all their actions. Their defence was that they were using reasonable force to prevent a crime as allowed by the Criminal Law Act of 1967. In the course of the trial the violence and injustices of the Indonesian Government against East Timor were exposed as were the acts of the Department of Trade and Industry and BAE Systems, in supplying
arms to Indonesia. Evidence was given by the women themselves and also by academics and human rights advocates. All evidence given, the jury withdrew but quickly returned with a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’. They had recognised the motives of the women and of their defence. It was a triumph for justice. Eventually, East Timor achieved independence in 2002. Twenty years on and tragically only the country names have changed. We sell arms and military and security equipment to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Libya, Iraq, and Bahrain among others, which end up being used against people in Yemen and Syria or for internal repression in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. We fail to offer hospitality to those seeking refuge from war and violence. Pope Francis does not spare his words about this trade, speaking at Easter 2015 he said: “And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who profit from the blood of men and women.” So the speaking up and the naming and the campaigning must go on. They are acts that allow us to be in solidarity with those who are in the harsh front-line of war and conflict. JM Pat Gaffney is General Secretary of the British section of Pax Christi. Visit www.paxchristi.org.uk
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Mary Barrett, a member of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, describes a walk held to show solidarity with migrants, and looks forward to a forthcoming event
Walking as one with refugees Walkers snake through the countyside above, and stop in Canterbury, below DURING JUNE LAST year, a new Canterbury Tales for our time took place when 40 walkers left Dover to set out on a journey to Crawley via Canterbury. Refugee Tales was a walk on paths taken by travellers over the centuries along the North Downs reflecting on the long and dangerous journeys that many refugees make fleeing war and persecution, seeking a safe place to live. As the assembly walked it reclaimed the landscape of south-east England for the language of welcome, and everywhere it stopped it was met with hospitality and enthusiasm. Working directly in collaboration with those who had experienced the UK asylum system, and taking Chaucer’s great poem of journeying as a model, established writers told a series of tales en route. Through that sharing of other people’s tales, the project gathered and communicated experiences of migration, 26 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
seeking to show, in particular, what indefinite detention means. Each night tales were told and music heard at free events in churches and village halls along the route. They were the stories of refugees and asylum seekers and those who accompany them told by novelists and poets. Members of local communities joined the walkers to hear The Arriver’s Tale, The Detainee’s Tale, The Appellant’s Tale and The Deportee’s Tale. These were accompanied by tales of people who work with and encounter refugees and asylum seekers in the UK: The Interpreter’s Tale, The Solicitor’s Tale, The Dependent’s Tale and The Lorry Driver’s Tale. These tales were the result of meetings and conversations between those who had been detained and those who support them, and the writers including Ali Smith, winner of the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Marina Lewycka author of ‘The Short History
Our desire for the end of indefinite detention and the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers became even more fierce and focused through the experience
of Tractors in Ukranian’, poets Patience Agbabi and Inua Ellams and David Herd poet and activist and Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Kent. On the second day the walkers paused for a pilgrims’ service in Canterbury Cathedral Crypt and as they left the crypt they received the Pilgrims’ Blessing of Macrina Weiderkehr. One particular line resonated with one of the walkers ‘May your heart find meaning in unexpected events’. The full-time walkers were joined daily by day pilgrims and together they listened to the stories of the former detainee walkers. They heard first hand from those who had suffered long periods in detention, and whose personal testaments spoke more about the scandal of indefinite detention than any statistic. Those who have been in detention are often still in the limbo of the immigration system and feel they have no voice. Refugee Tales gave them an opportunity to speak for themselves as they walked and talked. The former detainee walkers themselves found great solace from the walk, stating: ‘I am not allowed to work and the days seem very lonely and long’, ‘Going on the walks means the walking days are better days for me’. and ‘Everyone is so friendly and when I am on the walk I feel part of a community.’ The Refugee Tales walk had a profound effect on all those involved, with one writing: “Participating in the walk changed me, as well as others. The friendships that grew will be longstanding. We shared pleasures and laughter, and held each other through darkness and pain. “The authors honoured the stories of the people they had met in ways that were both thrilling and unbearable at times. The talents and goodwill of all the teams – organisers, walkers, caterers, and support crew – were astonishing. Our desire for the end of indefinite detention and the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers became even more fierce and focused through the experience. “Yes, we walked together but we also shared our stories, made new friends and rekindled hope in our hearts. In the face of all the negativity surfacing nowadays, the Refugee Tales has been a much needed ray of sunshine. We need that more than ever today.
“I am honoured to have been one of the walkers and can honestly say that taking part in the Refugee Tales has been one of the best experiences of my life.” The organisers, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, provide emotional and practical support to those held in immigration detention in Tinsley House and Brook House at Gatwick Airport. People held indefinitely in immigration detention are among the most disadvantaged groups in this country. Many are young, vulnerable, away from family, homeland, familiar culture, religion and language, and are caught up in a system they do not understand. Unlike people held in prisons serving custodial sentences, they do not know how long they will be held. In their isolated state, they meet a system that frequently does not believe what they say and makes it clear that they are not wanted here. Refugee Tales campaigns strongly for a maximum term for detention which would bring the UK into line with the rest of Europe. Ali Smith, who agreed to become Patron of Refugee Tales 2016, said: “The telling of stories is an act of profound hospitality.
“It always has been; story is an ancient form of generosity, an ancient form that will tell us everything we need to know about the contemporary world. “Story has always been a welcoming-in, is always one way or another a hospitable meeting of the needs of others, and a porous artform where sympathy and empathy are only the beginning of things. “The individual selves we all are meet and transform in the telling into something open and communal. “Imagine if every city, if every country, greeted refugees with signs which said in many languages the word welcome, and the words you are safe, like Vienna did last summer.” On July 4 this year, Refugee Tales pilgrims will leave Canterbury to walk, this time to Westminster travelling to Faversham, Gravesend, Dartford and Greenwich. Again Tales will be told: ‘The Tortured Person’s Tale, The Scholar’s Tale, The Lover’s Tale by writers including Kamila Shamsie, Jackie Kay and Olivia Lang. The walk is preceded by a “Day of Thought, Performance and Action on Being Detained Indefinitely”, on Sunday, July 3 at the University of Kent. Booking is now open for the walk and the day at the University of Kent at refugeetales.org All the Tales of 2015 will be published on June 16 2016 by Comma Press, visit commapress.co.uk JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 27
Bishops, a children’s author, the Zimbabwean diaspora and hundreds of parishioners have been supporting poor communities in Progressio’s ZimFare project, reports Fabiana Harrington
A fast for Zimbabwe THIS LENT, PEOPLE from all walks of life stood in solidarity with those living in extreme poverty in Zimbabwe and around the world through Progressio’s ZimFast and ZimFare challenges. Participants were invited either to fast for six days on a monotonous and nutritionally-poor Zimbabwean diet, or host a Zimbabwean-themed meal to raise vital funds and awareness for Progressio. ZimFast and ZimFare supporters included the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Bishop of Clifton, novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce and many more. “By taking these simple actions we can empathise closely with the people in Zimbabwe, so that Progressio’s work in developing communities […] will be supported from strength to strength,” said the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon. Progressio is an international development charity working alongside people living in poor, fragile and marginalised communities, in nine countries around the world. It aims to support marginalised people, especially women, to empower themselves so they can overcome the barriers keeping them poor, and denying them their rights. The current drought that has hit Africa has badly affected Zimbabwe, Somaliland and Malawi, three of the countries Progressio works in, and for this reason, the ZimFare and ZimFast challenges were especially pertinent this Lent. It is estimated that more than 36 million people are facing food insecurity in southern and eastern Africa, with recent figures from Unicef showing that more than one million children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition. Carlos Velazquez, a recent Progressio 28 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
will fail, causing more food shortages in communities which are often already poor and marginalised. This dependency on agriculture was reaffirmed by a Zimbabwean woman who spoke at the Clifton Dioceses’ ZimFare and ZimFast challenge event. “This year of Mercy, [and] especially this Lent time, let us pray for Zimbabwe. If you fast, fast for Zimbabwe,” she said. “We pray for the rains, so that we can continue with our agriculture. Then we can have plenty to eat and to sell, so that we can send our children to school.”
The Bishop of Clifton Declan Lang takes part in ZimFast
International Citizen Service team leader in Malawi, shared a story that epitomised the situation millions are facing. Carlos recently lived with a host family in Malawi, who became increasingly concerned about the lack of rain during his placement there. They said: “If we can’t grow maize, people will starve from January onwards.” Sadly, the drought persisted. A few weeks ago Carlos received a text from his Malawian friend, stating that he’d had to skip lunch and maybe dinner too, as there was simply no food. The reason why a drought has such terrible consequences in countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe, is because most people rely on agriculture for their food and income. Without rain their crops
Seventy per cent of Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty, on just £1 per day. That is why for more than 30 years Progressio has been working alongside local Zimbabwean people, supporting them to empower themselves. Its Action for Better Governance programme works alongside ordinary Zimbabweans, including women who often have no voice, so they can advocate for their priority needs, and create more democratic structures that address poverty and injustice. As a result, in Chachacha, women successfully lobbied the local government to repair 120 boreholes serving a commu-
People who fasted for six days with the ZimFast challenge were able to gain a closer understanding of the difficulties people face in Malawi and Zimbabwe
Maize is one of the staple foods in Zimbabwe nity of 80,000, as they had to walk long distances to fetch water. These programmes, which aim to create long-term and sustainable change
in communities like Chachacha, will be especially important now because of the lasting effects of the drought. This is why the ZimFast and ZimFare fundraising
Seven out of ten small farmers in Zimbabwe are women
Lent challenges were particularly relevant this Lent. “By fasting you are putting yourself on the line and helping yourself to understand how tough it is for other people,” said novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who spoke at the first challenge briefing event in the Liverpool Archdiocese. Frank took part in a similar fasting challenge last year, raising £1,700 for Progressio. People who fasted for six days with the ZimFast challenge were able to gain a closer understanding of the difficulties people face in Malawi and Zimbabwe. And, in a world where shocking headlines flash on the news every day, it’s important to take challenges like ZimFast which can make you stop and think about the people behind the statistics, and the real struggles they face in their daily lives. As Carlos Velazquez said: “Things are getting tougher for the most vulnerable people in the world. These headlines are not just based on figures out of a statistic report. They represent the suffering of the human family – the one we all belong to.” JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 29
John Smith of Irish aid agency Trócaire shares his recent experiences visiting camps for people displaced by conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar
New hope, new solidarity THE MEN AROUND me are mostly wearing jumpers. I am in a t-shirt and it is quite hot. I’m sweating. The whiteboard above me to the left is full of numbers; 67 individuals from one village, 52 from another. The list of the villages runs all the way down the board. There must be more than 20 villages represented on the list. In the total column on the bottom right, one can establish how many people are living here in St Joseph Maina camp — 1,234 individuals are packed here into this IDP (internally displaced people) camp. The group in front of us, made up of around 10 men and three women, speak about life at the camp. Trócaire’s work here is focused on water, sanitation and hygiene. All of these issues are addressed, and it is clear the impact this work is having. The group is well organised. They have a youth representative, a security representative and much more. This reflects our work on building the capacity of the people living in these camps. After some further discussion, Birke Herzbruch, Trócaire’s Myanmar country director, asks whether any of the camp committee want to ask us any questions. One of the men, who, despite the heat is wearing a woolly hat and a warm jacket with long sleeves, asks: “When will we be able to go home?” Over the course of the previous two days, I have heard again and again that people just want peace, and to be able to return home. They want to return to their farms. They want to leave these cramped and often dangerous camps, where some have been for four years now. 30 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
But this question was different. This was not just an aspiration to leave the camp. This question was built upon trust. The trust in that man’s eyes as he asked Birke when he could leave has stayed with me. But what are the chances of him returning home? In 2011 the conflict erupted again in Kachin State, in the north of Myanmar, a country of 51 million people, up to 70 per cent of who are estimated to live by agriculture. But this conflict is not simply an ethnic conflict, as some would present it. What first began as a struggle for independence, or at least greater autonomy for the region and its people, has now turned into a war economy.
home, their land is often not there waiting for them. Jade mines, banana plantations, logging and land confiscation are just some of the ways in which land has been misappropriated. Some land laws go back to 19th-century British Imperial India rule, and often there is little recompense for farmers. Expectations are high that the new Land Use Policy will provide redemption. The camps are littered around Myitkyina (the capital of Kachin State), a city 777 miles to the north of Yangon. Another camp we visited, Nawng Pong, had 327 registered as living there. About 15 of the women living in the camp met with us in what appeared to be a room that otherwise would have housed the children for school.
The new latrines had made a big difference, and health had improved there, though their food rations were not enough
The jade mining business sets the military against the KIA/KIO (Kachin Independence Army), and is a significant driver of the conflict. A recent report estimated that in 2014 the Myanmar jade trade was worth $31billion, almost 50 per cent of the GDP of the country. But, of course, the local Kachin farmers, many of who make up the more than 100,000 of people living in IDP camps, see little of this abundance. Even when these farmers can return
Aung San Suu Kyi Photo: Stortinget
John Smith in Myanmar An airy space lent itself to these passionate and articulate women as they told us about their life in the camp. The new latrines had made a big difference, and health had improved there, though their food rations were not enough. Despite that, the air appeared light with a sense of hope. Hope that the recently elected NLD (National League for Democracy) and their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, could bring a lasting peace and return them home. Nonetheless, a walk around the camp, and some of the women going about their daily tasks were more circumspect. A sadness was evident. More than four years living in a camp with cramped living spaces and little by way of opportunity to grow crops and provide a livelihood; these circumstances conspired to demonstrate that, even
amid the resilience and hope of these women, life was extremely difficult. And where were the men? Many, they told us, had left for the jade mines. The man with the trusting eyes had left his question to linger in the air. It was a question that in a sense could not be answered. Birke addressed it nonetheless. We are hopeful she tells the man. Some families are already returning home. But we don’t know when everyone can go home. Nevertheless, she goes on, we will stay with you. Trócaire will help you to provide for yourself and your families in this camp, and when it is time to go home, we will help you and your families to return to a normal life. When it comes to rebuilding your live-
lihoods, we will stay with you. Trócaire is here for the long term. For five years I travelled to schools around Ireland talking about Trócaire’s work. I spoke with teachers and students about how the agency works through partners, about how it responds to emergencies, and when the emergency is over, it stays with communities to help them rebuild their lives. I said this many times. But on this day, in St Joseph Maina camp, Kachin State in northern Myanmar, I saw grown men nod their heads in hope when our partner translated Birke’s words of reassurance. In this moment, I saw solidarity in a new way, a way that I will not forget. JM John Smith is head of outreach with Trocaire JUSTICE MAGAZINE 31
Stephanie Harvey looks at the work of homelessness organisation Providence Row in London
How mental health issues can lead to the streets IT MAY SURPRISE you to know that mental health problems are one of the biggest causes of homelessness. A period of homelessness, and particularly rough sleeping, will also have a negative impact on someone’s mental health and well-being. A report produced by Homeless Link in 2014 found that 80 per cent of homeless people report some form of mental health issue and 45 per cent of those had been diagnosed with one. This is compared to the general population where 25 per cent of people have been diagnosed. Many people do not seek support around their mental health so it is likely that both numbers underestimate the true extent of mental health problems in the UK. Providence Row believes not only in supporting people with mental health issues, but also that everybody the charity works with should have good mental health. It aims to equip people with the knowledge and tools they need in order to be able to look after their own wellbeing forever. Many of the people Providence Row works with will have experienced trauma in their life, most likely in childhood. These experiences in formative years have a huge impact on how people cope with stress and interact with others in later life. Most of the people who use its centre are men between the ages of 35–55, a group, across society, who are unlikely to report mental health problems. Providence Row’s services and activities are designed to support people’s wellbeing. For those who have quite severe mental health problems, getting a diagnosis can be extremely frightening. 32 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
The charty searches for practical solutions The charity will attend appointments with people so they are not alone and can help them to understand the diagnosis. It then supports people to access the mainstream services and support they need to manage their diagnosis. Alongside very practical solutions for people, Providence Row knows that spending time in a meaningful way is vital to help people recover. It runs a wide variety of activities and learning opportunities on site that are supported by volunteers from local companies. It focuses on people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing when they come to the charity. Working alongside a wide mix of people builds confidence and widens people’s social networks.
The options available range from a bi-weekly film club, gardening groups, art classes and music sessions on to activities focused on supporting people into employment such as English classes, IT workshops and a ten week employability programme. Providence Row supports people’s health through hosting NHS services on site such as a dental van and a hepatitis nurse. It also runs yoga, chi kung and pilates sessions which are beneficial for both mind and body. It works with Mind who run a weekly counselling session for its clients. However everybody is different and so it also aims to offer a variety of ways for people to access support. For people who would find face-to-
Providence Row works with more than a thousand homeless and vulnerably housed people a year in east London, offering an integrated service of crisis support, advice, recovery and learning and training programmes. Its aim is to ensure that people who are so often excluded from mainstream services gain the support and opportunities they need to create a safe, healthy and sustainable life away from the streets. It provides: ■■A resource centre for people who are rough sleeping, with breakfast, showers and access to IT. ■■Advice and support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. ■■Recovery and progression for people whose mental health and substance misuse issues are affecting their ability to find and stay in accommodation. ■■Trainee schemes to help people with complex needs to move into regular learning, volunteering or work.
“ Providence Row shows that moving out of homelessness is possible face support difficult, or are unable to attend at the time Providence Row runs the sessions, it is introducing therapy sessions online and also bringing in access to a 24/7 helpline. Food has always been at the heart of what Providence Row does, but how it uses it has changed dramatically. It now has a beautiful roof garden that provides vegetables for its daily lunch service. Its lunch is for those who have taken part in activities and follows the healthy eating guidelines. There are always two vegetables and fruit for dessert. The charity encourages everyone to have lunch together – staff, volunteers and those using its services. This aims to create a sense of community and improve people’s social inclusion.
While it is important that people feel welcomed and a part of the Providence Row centre, progression is a key part of what it does. It is always looking at the next steps for people accessing its services. It has peer mentor support sessions where people who have experienced homelessness work with those who have recently started using its centre. Providence Row’s peer mentors share their experiences and show others that moving out of homelessness is possible. It has partnerships with a range of learning and training centres for people to move on to, and continues to support people as they access services outside of its centre, until they no longer need the charity. JM
There are always two vegetables and fruit for dessert. The charity encourages everyone to have lunch together – staff, volunteers and those using its services
What you can do to help Providence Row believes it is possible for people to recover and lead independent lives. You can show your support by making a donation at www.providencerow.org.uk/donate or by sending a cheque made out to Providence Row to The Dellow Centre, 82 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7SA. Please mark your donation with JUSTICE. In return you will receive a copy of The Spirit of Providence Row, the booklet produced by the Sisters of Mercy when they handed the charity over to laypeople in the 1980s. This booklet sets out the values it continues to work with today, ensuring it remains a legacy for the amazing work the sisters started back in 1860. JUSTICE MAGAZINE 33
Tara Finglas reports on Kenyan schools passing on vital lessons for life
An education in human rights TODAY THERE ARE 16 million girls around the world who will never start school. For both girls and boys globally, there are 124 million children and young adults who are not in school. Unfortunately, universal access to primary education is still an aspiration, and many children will not gain this advantage, which is crucial for breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Children who go to school have broader future employment opportunities, higher income levels and maternal and child health are improved. Education creates a win-win situation. The Ndeini Primary School is located in Kibwezi, a town in Makueni County in Kenya that suffers from severe drought as rain only comes once a year. Managed by the Christian Brothers (Edmund Rice Development), the school provides access to education to some of the poorest children in the area, many of whom are orphans. The Edmund Rice Advocacy Network (ERAN) has been instrumental in ensuring students receive a nutritious meal every day in school by mobilising parents of students to contribute maize and beans, and fulfilling shortfalls of supplies for students whose families cannot afford the extra expense. “ERAN was born in this school, and the school community was spearheaded by James M. Mutua who formerly was working at the Reuben Centre in the Mukuru kwa Njenga i slum in Nairobi,” 34 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
said headteacher Michael Mutsiya. “After he was posted to our school he sought permission to introduce ERAN activities; many changes have taken place after the introduction of ERAN. So far children have been educated about their rights. “Early marriages, assaults, and child neglect were evident years before ERAN activities, but now they are unheard of. ERAN Children’s Camps have been the most enjoyable in the school. Children have learnt many artistic skills, games, songs and drama resulting in the improvement of the standards of education.” Development work alone is not enough to achieve the systemic change needed to destroy poverty. The Christian Brothers understood this in 2008 when they created ERAN to engage in advocacy work as a strategy for addressing systemic, and structural injustice, which they believe are the root causes of poverty and injustice. To this end, ERAN works with the United Nations Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review; the Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to promote public accountability, and propoor frameworks and programmes. Through a variety of activities like the ERAN Camps, systemic change in the Ndeini Primary School has taken place.
Pupils at Ndeini Primary School Photos: Lar Boland
These camps have been instrumental in changing the strict discipline culture in the school. Staff and students collaborated to come up with a fun way to reinforce positive discipline after exam time with students dressing each other up with exam papers, pictured left. This has now become a rite of passage for students, and a happy way to signal the end of the year, and to look forward to the next term. Kenya is a country of many contrasts, from its landscape to demographics, and more so its social and economic inequalities. Many of the students in the Ndeini Primary School go to school barefoot. Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in the sub-region. A study by the Institute for Security Studies found that 18.4 million Kenyans out of a population of 46.3 million live in extreme poverty. The Ndeini Primary School provides practical classes like environmental studies to teach students skills that they can take home. ERAN has provided fruit trees to plant around the school grounds, which offer
additional food for students, and large rain water collection tanks to water the trees as the local water is not good for plants. In 2013, President Kenyatta launched the Basic Education Act, which provides a road map for the development of education in the country. This has been accompanied by an increase in the state budgetary allocation for secondary schools by 33 per cent. Consequently, the Free Primary Education programme has expanded enrolment from 5.9 million children in 2003 to 10 million today. Since its inception in 2008, free (day) secondary education has raised enrolment from 800,000 pupils to the current figure of nearly two million. An extra 79,000 teachers are needed to reach the United Nations globally recommended teacher-to-student ratio of one teacher to 35 students. The minimum monthly wage for state school teachers currently starts at 16,692 Kenyan shillings (approximately €158) a month for the lowest paid teachers. This teacher shortfall, coupled with poor or non-existent facilities, inade-
quate learning materials, and ineffective ways to measure learning outcomes, results in low quality education in many of Kenya’s public schools. The Kenyan Government is working with schools like the Ndeini Primary School to address some of these challenges. Headteacher Michael Mutsiya has been lobbying and working with the school’s administration for additional resources and support from the government. Through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the government is adding three new classrooms to the school. Although the Kenyan Government has stepped up to the challenge of providing some funding for education, the main financial partners continue to be the parents and guardians of students, and NGOs. In the future, if access to education in Kenya will truly be universal, then the country’s government will have to focus on sustainable strategies of funding. JM Tara Finglas works for Misean Cara JUSTICE MAGAZINE 35
Lisa Burns highlights a busy summer ahead for Catholic university students from Manchester
The school in Tanzania THIS SUMMER FIVE students from Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy (MUSCC) will be flying out to East Africa to volunteer in a school in Dodoma, Tanzania. They aim to make a difference by living their faith through practical outreach. Kevin Lo, Stephanie Meredith (also office manager at MUSCC), Edward Potter, Rokas Balsys and Ladislav Maluch will be joined on their journey by Fr Tim Byron SJ. The trip is part of the Jesuit Missions scheme, and sees the five volunteers helping out in St Ignatius Prep and Primary School. They’ll be acting as peer mentors and helping the children to develop skills in areas where they do not normally have many opportunities. “Everyone in our group has different strengths and talents,” explained Kevin. “We decided we should draw upon these to make a difference to the children in 36 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
the school, through education. “That means that we will be passing on our knowledge in various ways. Steph will be teaching the children religious education, Lad will be teaching IT skills, Ed will be playing sports with them, and I’ll be teaching science, as I’m a pharmacy student.” Rokas, a sound engineering student, will be making a CD of the children’s school choir (he’ll be giving music lessons to the choir in Dodoma). When the group returns to Manchester, they will sell copies of the CD, with the proceeds going to St Ignatius School. A big part of the project is ensuring that future chaplaincy students can go and volunteer at the school. “We’re hoping to empower the children by passing on our knowledge and skills in different ways. But we’re
also there as peer mentors,” Stephanie explained. “We want to create a legacy in terms of building links between our chaplaincy and the school. We’d like for future chaplaincy students to go out to Dodoma every year and build upon the work that we’ve started there. There’s even a chance we could expand our work into other regions of East Africa.” MUSCC students are no strangers to charitable outreach initiatives closer to home. The chaplaincy is home to a thriving St Vincent de Paul Society youth branch, which holds weekly meetings and co-ordinates multiple sandwich runs for the homeless each week, as well as running breakfast clubs, working with the elderly and volunteering to help people with learning disabilities. The chaplaincy is also home to Man-
Students from Manchester are preparing to head to Tanzania this summer chester Central Foodbank, the UK’s first student-led foodbank, run under the Trussell Trust scheme. Fr Tim Byron is also working hard to establish a Citizens UK alliance running out of the chaplaincy. In such a climate of social justice and outreach, it seems unsurprising that the students of Manchester Catholic Chaplaincy are inspired to come up with new ideas to put their faith into practical action. “We want to do something to make positive action, and to share our faith in practical ways,” said Edward, a second-year physics with astrophysics student at the University of Manchester. “We want to do something to help others, and this was really a student-led project. Fr Tim has backed us all the way, but it’s really us, the students, who are the driving force behind this.” The students have been working hard to secure funding to cover the costs of the trip, and planning the fundraising and practicalities of the trip has been a learning curve for the team. “It’s not always easy to manage a team, and for many of us we are learning as we go along,” said Kevin. The team is committed to the trip, and often spend late nights discussing fundraising options and writing grant proposals. They have organised their own flights and inoculations, and have drawn upon the support of their friends
to help fundraise. Their chaplaincy friends have been particularly generous in helping to spread the word about the mission, and in giving their time to help fundraise. While each student on Team Tanzania has something unique to bring to the project, they all share a common enthusiasm for the end goal.
We want to do something to make positive action, and to share our faith in practical ways
“Through this process, we have learned that despite having conviction towards the cause, we come across obstacles in our path, which may sometimes be ourselves,” admitted Edward. “Mission Tanzania has been a character developing process; one that will no doubt benefit us as well as those we visit in Tanzania. God plants mysterious seeds in our hearts.” As with any charitable outreach project, a big part of the work is fundraising. Team Tanzania has been working hard to secure funds for the trip – they each have to raise £1,000. This money will cover the costs of flights, accommodation, food and any other basic needs they may have while
in Tanzania. Some of their fundraising initiatives have included cooking Sunday meals for the congregation after Sunday student Masses at the Holy Name Church (the university church in Manchester), photography exhibitions (Rokas is a keen photographer), African jewellery sales, Malaysian food stalls (Kevin is from Malaysia), gathering proceeds from Shrove Tuesday chaplaincy pancake sales, organising carwashes in local parishes and sponsored hitchhikes. Newcastle-born Stephanie’s gift for art has been put to good use as she raises funds. She has been selling prayer cards bearing a hand-drawn image of Our Lady of Schoenstatt to make money for the trip. She sells the cards after Sunday Mass at the Holy Name and also after the carwashes in local parishes. She is now selling them online, and posts the cards out to those who buy them. Cards cost 50p, or you can purchase a pack of 10 for £2. If you would like to buy a prayer card in support of this mission, please visit their website at www.justgiving.com/ musccmissionafrica2016 To sponsor Team Tanzania, visit www. justgiving.com/teams/muscc The students in Team Tanzania are monitoring their progress through a student blog on the MUSCC website. Read more about the project at www. muscc.org/mission-africa JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 37
David Logan reflects on another successful week in his charity assisting people in south London
A home for broken souls IT’S THE CALM after another storm. A fresh and beautiful April Sunday morning at the end of another extremely hectic, challenging and truly wonderful week working among the poor and needy in South London. As I sit here alone, in the peace and stillness of our Ace of Clubs Day Centre for Homeless and Vulnerable People in Clapham, my mind is cast forward to July 9 this year when we will celebrate our 21 years of service to our local community in providing empowering and transformative support to local homeless and vulnerable people; to our neighbours. I ponder the fact that one of our fantastic young local supporters, Georgina, is at this moment running the London Marathon to raise funds for us today and it reminds me of so many similar acts of kindness and support that makes what we do possible, and allows us to exist. I look around at this old and gnarled building as it reminds me of its former function as a Victorian Catholic primary school. The school outgrew the site and moved on in the early nineties, and the faithful congregation and community of Redemptorist Fathers at St Mary’s Church, Clapham handed the building over and established Ace of Clubs to be a haven and rescue to those really struggling in the parish. It brings a smile to my face recalling a conversation this week with an at times very vulnerable middle-aged man who enrolled on our computer skills course while on a detox we helped him access, and as he joked, this is all happening some 30 years after him having been taught here as a little primary school kid! It gets me onto asking myself ‘What exactly are we celebrating in July?’ ‘What actually is Ace of Clubs that we might celebrate it?’ There are so many answers to this question and everyone probably experiences being a part of our community here a little differently. However, over the years something 38 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
A member of Ace of Clubs
that I’ve noticed time and time again is that when you ask our members, those we are here to serve and support, what Ace of Clubs is to them, there is one word that comes up almost every time, and that is the word ‘family’. We are a family. The fact that we use the word ‘members’ to describe those who come to us for help is so apt. As thousands of marginalised, lost and broken souls have walked in through these doors in disarray since July 1995, they have been welcomed as precious members of our family, and a worth and dignity placed upon them that they have been starved of in the midst of their
I have spent another week being blown away by so much of what happens here – how incredible, unique, talented and resilient so many of our members are, the things they have survived, the quality and kindness of the people that make up my team
pain, disappointment and chaos. I have spent another week being blown away by so much of what happens here – how incredible, unique, talented and resilient so many of our members are, the things they have survived, the quality and kindness of the people that make up my team, by what my staff, our volunteers and our members are able to achieve and sustain together. This week alone we have helped seven people off the streets of London. If you go back a few years we used to have 35 people come here for help per day. That figure now stands at 120. It quadrupled in a little over two years. Right now we
The club has changed people’s lives and helped get them back on track have between three and five brand new people walking into our offices every single day with their lives having spun out of control and into a place they never dreamt would ever be part of their story. The first thing we do is grab you a cuppa, a hot meal, have a seat with you, and listen. This is the beginning, and what happens from here so often surprises and thrills me. People’s lives, and people themselves, are forever changed by this place, and more to the point, by this community of people. We have developed so much over recent years simply by listening and responding to the need our members present. We provide for the immediate and more obvious needs with food, clothing, laundry, showers, sleeping bags, physical and mental healthcare...the lot, really. As people continue to engage, we are able to provide a wide range of helpful and transformative options such as accommodation links, advice sessions,
advocacy, legal aid, tenancy maintenance support, safeguarding networks, help with welfare and work programmes, accredited education courses, social enterprise schemes, creative pursuits clubs, and more. In the last 12 months we have helped 91 people off the streets and into the appropriate accommodation, served more than 21,000 meals, had 79 graduates from our vulnerable adults education project, given 4,000 advice sessions, provided support to those suffering from addiction including detox and rehab links to hundreds of people, helped rescue and protect so many from painful and dangerous circumstances, and seen so many lives a little bit restored and hearts find new hope and purpose. All of this is made possible by the fact that we are that family that so many testify to. We are always recommitting ourselves to working together through the agonies and ecstasies with an ever-replenishing sense of mercy and love, as we search for
the good in and of one another. For me, one of the most ‘Ace’ things about Ace of Clubs is how much our members are a vital part of the team making the whole thing work in a manner that makes it of genuine impact. It is a place of both spiritual and practical refuge, challenge and change and I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of it over the last five years. Ace of Clubs. Our family. Just a small fragment of the family of the Church throughout the ages and across the nations, carrying out the work of Jesus to love those unloved; to persevere in doing our best to be marked and characterised by mercy. I cannot think of anything I’d rather celebrate. Ace of Clubs relies on the kind and invaluable support of those who help us to continue with and develop our work. Please do get in touch and support us with a donation or direct debit and to find out more about what we’re up to from day-to-day. JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 39
Feature: Climate change
Phil Kingston asks whether the Earth, people or the economy comes first?
Cherish our home IN 1994, I had the good fortune to participate in a workshop called Justice and Faith, led by Columban priest Eamon O’Brien. I spent four months in Hong Kong with Asian Catholics who were working for justice and peace. Some of their experiences shocked me. During the period of the workshop, participants received news of four colleagues murdered for their work. Another struggled to speak about the ‘disappearance’ of his friends and his own experience of being tortured. I also heard their experience of the ways in which institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the GATT (later the World Trade Organisation) exerted power over their countries. I came home with the clear realisation that my material riches and relative freedom were related to the poverty and misery of others, processes which then lay hidden in UK culture and still largely do. The faith aspects of the workshop were just as transformative. I was introduced to the Jesus who not only died for our salvation but was killed because of His commitment to the poor and excluded and for His criticism of the powers of his time. Liberation theology was integral to the workshop and its basic ideas, such as God’s special love of the poor, have since been incorporated into Catholic Social Teaching. This doesn’t mean that they have become integral to the life of the average parish, but the arrival of Pope Francis gives a wonderful model for each of us to follow in working towards a Church for the poor and of the poor. Like many others, the focus of my campaigning has turned towards the dangers arising from climate change. We are seeing greater extremes of weather across the Earth, triggered by a one-degree centigrade rise above pre-industrial temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the Earth is currently on a trajectory towards a temperature increase of more than three times that. Such knowledge often 40 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
triggers feelings of helplessness, fear and despair; climate change denial may follow simply because we are overwhelmed by the immensity and urgency of the problems it presents. Seeking and receiving the support of God and people is essential if I am to keep re-finding hope. The focus upon climate change is essential and also insufficient. A decade ago it was common to hear the term Ecological Footprint, a measure put forward by the World Wildlife Fund about the human use of the Earth. The overuse of fossil-fuels is a part of that measure but so are many other non-renewable dimensions such as the loss of primeval forests and the depletion of fish stocks.
We as producers and consumers are inevitably part of the problem. We are also potentially part of the solution if we respond to the Pope’s call to listen to the ‘cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’
In addition the overuse of many minerals already faces future generations with serious difficulties. It is essential to reclaim the centrality of our ecological footprint and to place our carbon footprint as a distinct aspect within it. At this time when the human population is using the Earth as though we have one-and-a half planets, why isn’t this general overuse a central aspect of political, economic and religious discourse? I suggest it is primarily because we have accepted that the prevailing globalised economic model has no alternative; and that its aims of never-ending growth and the maximisation of profit require that the Earth be regarded as its subsidiary. This aggrandisement of the economy
is not compatible with the ecological principle put forward by systems thinker Gregory Bateson that ‘the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself’. I hope to show that we require an economy which is a subsidiary of the Earth. I invite you to consider some questions about the current economy. How does it: ■■appreciate the wonder and beauty of all forms of life, and care for them? ■■recognise the limits of the Earth, and demonstrate its humility to live within them? ■■embrace God’s special love for those who are poor and excluded? ■■share the goods of the Earth between everyone? ■■include all future generations in that sharing? ■■provide regular work for all who need it in order to care for themselves and their families? And ensure that that work brings dignity and meaning to their lives? If we cannot give affirmative answers to these questions, it seems reasonable to conclude that this economy excludes essential attributes of the God of creation, love and justice. The following statements by Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel (EG) and Laudato si’, Care for our Common Home (Ls) confirm that conclusion. Here are three about the Earth, its life-forms and future generations: ‘…the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’ (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.’ Ls, 2 ‘…creation is harmed ‘’where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone.’’ Ls, 6 ‘Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.’ Ls, 67
And here are two relating to God’s special love of the poor and sharing the goods of the Earth between everyone: ‘…the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment ‘’Thou shalt not kill’’ means when ‘’twenty per cent of the world’s population consume resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive’’.’ Ls, 95 ‘As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems….’ EG, 202 And this one about the needs for inclusion, dignity and work: ‘Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.’ EG, 53
tionship between the economy and the destruction of the Earth doesn’t quickly become a central part of our discourse, how can the depletion and extinction of species; the suffering of the poorest peoples; and a plummeting security for our descendants, be halted and reversed? Pope Francis often notes how economic power subverts democracy. Meeting with members of the US Congress (who are unlikely to be elected without substantial donations from corporations) he said: “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.’’ He called on them ‘’to build … a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share….. its goods, its interests, its social life.” Then, in one of his inimitable acts of witness, he chose to go for lunch with homeless people and left the members of Congress to take his words wherever they would. What a challenge he gives to each of
In fact Pope Francis goes much further than specific criticisms of this economy. He states: “The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.’ EG, 55 The Pope’s words are truly shocking to those who regard the growth economy as the only one possible. We will probably be hard-pressed to find even a handful of members of parliament who are willing to say that this emperor has no clothes. Phrases like ‘there is no alternative’ and ‘you cannot buck the market’ are quickly brought in to hide the idol’s feet of clay. And yet, if discussion of the rela-
us in following the way of Jesus in speaking truth to power. My impression is that many in our Church voice support for his pastoral care and call for simpler living, but very few repeat his call for radical economic and financial change. Focus upon interpersonal sin is essential for each of us. Focus upon structural sin is essential for the billions of people I learned something about in the Hong Kong workshop. To move towards the latter, we have first to acknowledge the benefits which these structures bring us and our complicity in their workings; and then to seek the grace to challenge those who initiate and maintain them, and who have the power to impose their
will on others. Who are the people of our time who occupy positions of power? To answer that, it is necessary to name the institutions which most wield financial, economic, political, military and social power: Corporations; banks and other major investors; international trade and financial organisations; media; politicians and governments; and institutional aspects of civil society, including religious ones. Power can of course be used for the common good. Sadly it is often used to further the material security of a minority. We as producers and consumers are inevitably part of the problem. We are also potentially part of the solution if we respond to the Pope’s call to listen to the ‘cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’. Probably the major difficulty in building upon Pope Francis’ critique is the relative absence of economic models which give primacy to re-developing and maintaining a sustainable Earth. There are models, usually called circular economies, which appear to offer this (by reducing inputs and wastes) but on examination they do so only in a partial way. Their proponents continue to uphold the basic premises of the current economy such as never-ending growth, the maximisation of profit and an unfettered right to amass material wealth. Probably the most extensively funded and widely publicised circular model is the New Climate Economy whose first report was entitled Better Growth, Better Climate. Pope Francis’ comment on such models is ‘’It must be said that only limited progress has been made.’’ Ls, 22 A much less well-funded model which proposes an economy that is clearly a subsidiary of the Earth is promoted by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. I invite everyone who wants the kind of world which the Pope points toward to study it and to read a book by its founder, Brian Czech, called Supply Shock, and then to link it to our faith by considering Green Christian’s Joy in Enough project. The pervasive control of the powers of our time make them appear unassailable. This is the way of idols. With faith in the Risen Jesus who shows us how to live, we are likely to envision the different world which is possible and help to bring it about. My needs for support and courage regularly point towards the prayer to the Holy Spirit which ends with these remarkably prescient words: “Send forth your Spirit and we will be recreated, and you will renew the face of the Earth.’’ JM JUSTICE MAGAZINE 41
The plight of Syrian refugees in neighbouring Lebanon has been portrayed in a series of portraits by the award-winning photographer, Dario Mitidieri, working with CAFOD, its partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre and the creative agency M&C Saatchi. They visited families living in the informal settlements in the Bekaa Valley. Studio-style portraits were made of families whose lives were shattered as they fled the conflict, with empty chairs symbolising the loved ones they had to leave behind. CAFOD’s Nana Anto-Awuakye and Dario Mitidieri share their experiences
LOST FAMILIES LAST CHRISTMAS, VARIOUS family members snapped away on their latest mobile phone cameras, and we all dutifully posed for the camera. I asked for the unflattering photos of me to be deleted, my sister refused saying, “It’s Christmas, and 6we are all together.” Only a few weeks earlier I was in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, only nine kilometres from the Syrian border. I was working with our partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, the photographer Dario Mitidieri, and the creative agency M&C Saatchi to photograph family portraits of Syrian refugees inside some of the informal camp settlements in the Bekaa. Our arrival with the photography crew created an air of excitement, as children ran out from the labyrinth pathways in between the tented dwellings, as if the Pied Piper were calling them. The camp leader, or ‘Chawish’ told me: “Every family here has someone missing; they are either dead, kidnapped, or trapped.” The photography project aimed to reflect just that, the ‘missing’, by featuring empty chairs or unfilled arms. As each family walked onto the black canvas ‘pop-up studio’, they took off their shoes, insisting that it was fine for them to do so, as they wanted to respect the ‘home’ that they had walked onto, as is their custom. The scattered shoes around the canvas were a poignant reminder that so many families had to walk over the mountain range in the distance to reach safety in Lebanon. “The airplanes were striking us as we sat in the bus. The bus could go no further and left us on the mountain to walk the rest of the way,” Souraya told me. “I was so afraid I couldn’t tell a story to the children, I couldn’t laugh and tell 42 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
them everything was okay.” Souraya was one of the ten family members we photographed for the project. Inside her tent, her seven children sat close by her, her youngest children clinging onto her dress and not letting it go. Her body, straight-backed, firm muscular arms, and strong hands. Her piercing blue-green eyes stared into the distance. She held out her palms and said: “My hands are being eaten by the fire.” She explained what she means: Her hands have to do everything to make sure that her family survives.
The photography project aimed to reflect..the ‘missing’, by featuring empty chairs or unfilled arms
Lebanon is said to be half the size of Wales with a population of around four million. Today at least one in four people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. As the war enters its sixth year, Souraya is one of nearly 4.3 million Syrians living outside of her country, not knowing when she will be able to return home. Two years ago, Souraya’s husband told his wife to take their seven children and flee to Lebanon. They kept in regular contact – each call, she hoped would be the one when he told her he was on his way. Five months ago, he tried to join his wife, but the bus he was travelling on was hit by a missile. He sustained serious injuries and is now lying in a hospital bed far away from the camp in Lebanon. “We speak on the phone, my husband gives me courage, and he tells me that everything is going to be fine any day
soon. But, I am not optimistic that he will be able to work again, many bones in his body were smashed, because of that missile,” said Souraya. The informal settlement where Souraya lives is on flat waste ground about the size of three football pitches. The makeshift tents made of timber frames, and the walls made up of cardboard, plywood, and rugs, give little protection from the snow and biting cold winds. Souraya told me that she had a wood burner but no fuel for it, so she would go in search of wood with some of her older children. “Winter is difficult, the tent is cold, the children are cold. We need help with winter clothes and blankets. When it snows, what to do?” says Souraya. Temperatures were plummeting, and all the families I met talked about the harsh winter and their struggle to keep themselves warm. Our partner, Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, has supported Souraya’s family and many more with blankets and mattresses, as well as food vouchers. It’s hard to think where there might be hope for Souraya and her family, and for the millions of other Syrians. Looking at the photographs with the empty chair, or arms is heartbreaking. But, in every photo lingers a sense of hope, my Christmas photos, speak of hope for the future for my nieces and my son, hope for continued good health of my elderly parents. Despite everything, Souraya also holds onto a small snap-shot of hope: “I want everything back like the past. All of us in good health. All of us happy.” Nana Anto-Awuakye is CAFOD’s world news manager
IT IS EARLY – just before eight, but winding through the steep hill side roads of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, there is a frenzy of building work: Hotels and luxury apartments going up. This ancient, open city is alive. Once we leave the concrete landscape behind us, the undulating hills of the Bekaa valley – Lebanon’s agricultural pulse and once the ‘breadbasket of the Roman Empire’ – come into view. Overnight there has been a first dusting of snow on the hills. Just over the mountain ridge, some nine kilometres away is the border with Syria. Nearly 4.3 million Syrians – a fifth of the population before the war – are registered as refugees in the region which includes 1.2 million in Lebanon. Here in the Bekaa valley, across its wide fertile plains, I see clusters of camps. A typical shelter will have a timber frame, and walls made from wire, cardboard, plywood and blankets. The outer shell is made up of plastic sheeting; most common is the blue and white UN refugee agency UNHCR plastic sheeting, but I’ve also seen discarded advertising
posters weighed down with old car tyres or cement blocks. The promotions make a strange contrast with the starkness of camp life. Our first camp. An amazing set up because we are right in the middle of the camp. I look through the viewfinder on my camera and I can see things happening around the black backdrop we’ve set up. A man sits with a stool with a hookah pipe, he looks back at me. A girl peers round the screen inquisitively – I duck down to look through the viewfinder again and can see her furrowed, curious brow. There’s noise – young men nail wood together to make a tent. There’s a race against time to pin down tarpaulin as the winter sets in. This bright sunlight is playing tricks, every once in a while there’s a reminder of how cold it can get here when the biting cold wind blows down off the Syrian mountains as if in warning. As the family members walk onto the studio, they take their shoes off. It’s a mark of respect really – they don’t know us, yet don’t want to muddy the cloth on the floor. I leave the shoes in shot
because they’re a reminder that many of the families will have had to walk for days just to get to this very basic and uncompromising form of safety. It is the grief and sadness that strikes me first. There in the eyes of the adults and young people. There is strength for sure, but above all, the human loss stares back at me – holding me, daring me to look away. And it makes a stark contrast to the wriggling, smiling, excited young children oblivious to the reality of their parent’s suffering. When people look at these photographs, photos of families, just like yours and mine, I would like them to react with sympathy, and with horror. The families I am meeting have been witness to so many stories – horror stories, terrible stories – people dying, children dying, things that shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century. Today it’s them, tomorrow, God forbid, it could be us. My hope is that Syria, and the whole of the Middle East finds the right path towards peace. Dario Mitidieri JUSTICE MAGAZINE 43
COVER STORY Feature: Syria MAHMOUD’S family 1 Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley Mahmoud returned home with his children from buying food, to find a missile had hit his house. His wife was inside. • Mahmoud’s young family had recently arrived in the camp when this picture was taken. Forty days beforehand, they lost their beloved mother. They had gone to the market to buy food, leaving their mother at home. When they came back, their home and everything in it had been reduced to dust – laid waste by a missile from a bombing raid. • 20 days ago, they fled Syria, the children clinging to their father – each one suffering trauma after witnessing atrocities in their home country. • The family misses their mother so much. The youngest daughter, despite the shrapnel in her right arm that causes her constant pain, will not let will not let go of her father. • When asked about the future, Mahmoud, the father says: “We have no future. We have nothing.” RAZIR’S FAMILY 2 Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley Razir’s husband was kidnapped and executed by armed men. Unable to raise enough money to bring all of her children to safety, she was forced to leave her two eldest girls behind. • The family had to flee Syria after 40-year-old Razir’s husband was kidnapped and executed. • Razir didn’t have enough money to bring all of her children to safety, so she had to make the decision: which two do I leave behind? With no other option, she left her two oldest girls. • The family hasn’t heard from the two girls for seven months. • The family now live in a tent no bigger than a single bedroom. • Their only possessions are a blanket the size of a bath towel and the clothes on their backs. MOHAMMED’S FAMILY 3 Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley A missile hit Mohammed’s family home. His eldest son was separated in the ensuing chaos. • Just over a year ago, 55-year-old Mohammed was sitting in his living room with his family when a missile hit their home. • The missile’s shrapnel severely injured their eldest son. The family ran, but in the chaos, their son disappeared. • Mohammed hears from reports back home that his son’s injuries force him to behave extremely irrationally: He has 44 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
destroyed his ID papers, essential for getting to safety. And he has chosen to live on the streets, eating whenever concerned friends and former neighbours find him and give him food. • The family live on tenterhooks wondering whether the next communication about their son will be notification of his death.
KHWALE’S FAMILY 4 Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley Without her husband, Khawle managed to escape on foot. On the way she ran into an armed group, who beat her daughter. • The family arrived in the camp five months ago. Leaving their grandmother, three brothers and two sisters in Syria.
• Khawle (44) escaped Syria on a bus. When bombing intensified near them, the bus stopped on a mountain and they were told to get out. • They tried to make the rest of the journey on foot, but ran into some armed men. • They didn’t kill any family members when they met them, however, one of
Khawle’s daughters has a learning disability and was targeted by armed men. They beat her so badly that she couldn’t move for days. • They live in the tent now with no electricity and no way of making money. • “Perhaps we might stay like this for the rest of our lives,” says 44-year-old Khawle. “I don’t have anything to be
happy for, just to live like this. I feel sad living here without all of my children.” KALILA’S FAMILY (page 1) Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley Kalila’s husband told her to take the children and leave. He feared if he came with them, they might all be executed. • Kalila’s husband, Ahmed, told to her to leave Syria as it was too dangerous for them to live there – bombings and kidnapping were becoming more frequent. • While she fled with their young daughters, he was forced to stay because of ‘security matters’. Movement for many men in Syria can be extremely dangerous: They can face conscription in the army or execution depending on who they meet at checkpoints. • Kalila took her children and fled for Lebanon. The family’s journey was a long one. What should have taken hours, took days. They had very little food and the children were exhausted by the time they got to the camp. • Ahmed joined the family a week ago and is now living with them in the Bekaa. • Kalila has a message: “I want my voice heard in Europe. We need basics here: Food, winter supplies and especially medicine for the children.” OWAYED’S FAMILY (page 43) Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley Owayed managed to escape with his wife and daughter. He hasn’t heard from his four sons in six months, one of whom is blind. • The family arrived in the camp six months ago. Owayed (62) had to travel through snow-covered mountains for five days with very little food and water to get there. • On the journey, they met IS who only let Owayed live when he told them he was a worker going out to work in the fields. • He left behind four sons – one of whom is blind and lives with his brothers in Syria. The last, has been ‘disappeared’. • Last year, Owayed received WhatsApp messages from his sons regularly. Then one day, the messages went dead. He hasn’t heard from them since. • He says of life in the camp: “It is not a life here. We do not live. We have safety, but this is no life.”
To donate to the CAFOD Syria appeal visit www.cafod.org.uk JUSTICE MAGAZINE 45
Tony Magliano reports on a Vatican conference urging the Church to abandon the “just war” theory
No more just wars ON THE NIGHT before his execution, Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27). Facing a horrible violent death, Jesus taught the first leaders of his Church to respond to violence with peace. The peace of Jesus – the only real and lasting peace – unlike the false “peace” of the world which violently conquers enemies, would be based on total nonviolence. But after 300 years of countless Christians striving to follow the nonviolent Jesus – often suffering severe persecution – the faith of the followers of Christ was legalised and later made the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christians then began fighting for the empire. And sadly, Christians have been fighting for empires ever since. The “just war” theory was developed to offer criteria – like protecting civilians from attack – that had to be met before war could be theoretically morally justified and continued. Most unfortunately, this led to the Catholic Church’s abandonment of total Christlike nonviolence.
While firing an M-16 at pop-up targets, I realised as a follower of the nonviolent Jesus I could not aim a weapon at another human being, pull the trigger, and kill him or her
With the purpose of deepening the Catholic Church’s understanding and commitment to Gospel nonviolence and to urging that the “just war” theory be replaced with a “just peace” strategy, a monumental first-of-its-kind conference was recently held on April 11-13 in Rome. The Nonviolence and Just Peace Con46 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
Cardinal Peter Turkson speaks with Ken Butigan, Fr John Dear and Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire. Photo by Gerry Lee, Maryknoll
ference, co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International, gathered together an international group of approximately 80 bishops, theologians, priests, sisters and lay people – all experienced nonviolent social justice and peace leaders – to begin to formulate for the Catholic Church a creative Gospel-based active nonviolent strategy to counter violence, armed conflict, and war. One of the attendees, Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, told me that most of the participants came from countries where war and violent conflict have been the reality for too many years. Dennis said their message to us over and over again was: “We are tired of war.” For the Church to promote nonviolence – to deepen our understanding
of and commitment to nonviolence – seemed obvious and essential, she concluded. Another attendee, Fr John Dear, a veteran nonviolent peace educator and activist, said to me there is no such thing as a just war. “Everything has to return to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the nonviolence of Jesus,” he said. He emphasised that Jesus taught us to offer no violent resistance to one who does evil. Dear said “active nonviolence is not passive”. He said we need to address the root-causes of war like poverty and exclusion. But instead the “just war” theory has been used for more than 1,700 years to justify many wars and killings. Another participant, Eli McCarthy, who represented the Conference of
Jasmin Galace, Eli McCarthy, Francisco de Roux at the conference Photo: Gerry Lee, Maryknoll Major Superiors of Men, shared with me his amazement regarding stories about Catholic leaders negotiating with very violent armed actors. He spoke of an archbishop negotiating with the violent Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and a Jesuit negotiating with paramilitaries in Columbia. McCarthy said conference participants were informed about a bishop in warring South Sudan who created a peace village that has the trust of all armed actors. He said he heard that peace education is taught in all the schools in the Philippines, and that there is a University of Nonviolence in Lebanon. We have much to learn from committed Christians who are already successfully replacing a “just war” theory mentality with a “just peace” strategy. McCarthy said: “One thing surprised me, and it is instructive. Those [attendees] living in violent conflict zones … were all in support, as far as I could tell,
of the Catholic Church focusing on nonviolence and just peace, and no longer using the “just war” theory.” The Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference produced a guiding document titled “An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence.” At the end of this document there is a call for Catholics to: ■■integrate Gospel nonviolence into life – including the sacramental life – and work of the Catholic Church through dioceses, parishes, schools and seminaries; ■■promote strategies of nonviolent resistance, restorative justice and unarmed civilian protection; ■■no longer use or teach the “just war” theory; ■■continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons; ■■and there is a request to Pope Francis to write an encyclical letter on nonviolence and Just Peace.
The questions of active nonviolence, the “just war” theory, and war itself are very personal for me. More than 33 years ago, I was honorably discharged from the US Army as a conscientious objector. While firing an M-16 at pop-up targets, I realised as a follower of the nonviolent Jesus I could not aim a weapon at another human being, pull the trigger, and kill him or her. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked … Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them … ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you’.” Let us go forth to make peace. JM
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. JUSTICE MAGAZINE 47
Anita Boniface highlights the work of an organisation dedicated to ending isolation
Practical friendship and a listening ear MOTHER TERESA FAMOUSLY said: “The greatest disease in the west today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” The hunger for love of which Mother Teresa speaks is something very much alive amongst all segments of today’s society. With younger generations migrating towards cities in search of work, and greater transience among communities in general, the poverty of loneliness is a growing symptom of modern day living. Children leave their parents in search of education and employment, and older people especially are becoming increasingly isolated. However, there’s a charity whose 10,000 members are working hard to combat isolation and help people on the margins of society. Members of the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), are busy doing voluntary work visiting families, sick, isolated and lonely people both in their own homes, and in residential homes, offering friendship and support. SVP members get to know people in need on a face-to-face basis, making regular visits, talking to those who find themselves on the margins of society, and finding out about their practical, spiritual and emotional needs. SVP CEO Elizabeth Palmer says: “The SVP is able to help people on a 48 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
very personal basis through the weekly visit, developing strong and long lasting friendships in some cases, as well as providing practical assistance where necessary. “Through befriending, members gain the trust of those they visit. Very often a cry for friendship reveals a much deeper need for practical assistance that a person may have felt too ashamed to ask for before. Or a need for practical help can uncover a deeper desire for company and friendship. “The SVP, with its foodbanks, debt advice centres, second hand furniture stores, and thousands of volunteers, is a perfect resource to provide both practical assistance, and a listening ear of friendship.” One of the tens of thousands of people the SVP has helped is Tom. When Tom’s wife died after 22 years of marriage he muddled along, unable to express the deep grief he felt. When his cooker also broke down, he felt as if things were conspiring against him. He contacted the SVP, grumbling that his ‘dismal pension’ wasn’t enough to cover the cost of replacing it. SVP members visited to find out exactly what he needed and discovered that the kitchen appliance had very little to do with it. The first time members met him he was grumpy and embarrassed to be asking for help. They listened to his needs over a cup of tea. They were able to find him a cooker fairly quickly, but far more importantly, Tom became a very dear friend to the members visiting him, and as one member says: “As is so often the case, the cooker was the cover for a much deeper need.” SVP members visit people in the com-
munity, but also make visits to people in residential homes. One SVP group in Staffordshire has set up a subgroup of 12 members which they have named the Dementia Companions. Members provide respite breaks for carers, allowing them to have a little time away from their loved one with dementia. They also visit people with dementia in residential homes where they pray with them and take them into the garden. Dr Sonia Lloyd, who started the Dementia Companions group, said: “People suffering from dementia have their own spiritual needs. We take them Communion and say prayers which are familiar to them, such as the Lord’s Prayer. We also listen to hymns together and sometimes sing together.” Dementia Companions befriend people who would ordinarily be isolated by their condition. As well as helping lonely older people in the community and in residential homes, SVP members provide friendship to other marginalised members of society. This includes refugees and asylum seekers who often experience isolation because of language barriers and prejudice. Member Christopher Maxwell-Stewart from the Good Shepherd Conference in St Leonard’s-on-Sea has been helping asylum seekers for more than 40 years. “With help, many of the refugees and asylum seekers we visit have turned their lives around,” Christopher said. “They have great tenacity and determination and striking potential to improve. It is very rewarding for SVP members helping them.” Christopher cited the case of one
The SVP makes time to listen to people 14-year-old boy who fled Eritrea, escaping compulsory conscription into the military. “We gave him educational support and two years later the boy took his GCSE exams, passing all subjects with grade C and above. It was stunning. He also turned out to be a brilliant classical musician even though he had never touched a piano before.” Other marginalised members of society whom SVP members help are families, especially single parent families who are struggling to cope alone. Without support, such members of society often suffer food and fuel poverty. Winston Waller, SVP president for Southwark Diocese, is heavily involved in relieving food poverty for families in Whitstable. Winston describes the plight of these families: “Benefit sanctions are common and can have a serious impact on a
family,” he said. “Families are still being caught out by massive delays in their benefits or by benefit sanctions. Especially during times of the year when it’s cold, people are having to decide whether to eat or heat which is particularly bad for children”. “Another issue,” he continued, “is that people might just be able to survive, but come the school holidays there is an increased food problem. For example during the Easter holidays children aren’t getting school dinners, so the parents have to feed them as well as turn the heating on, whereas they might have done without this for themselves. This puts added financial pressure on families in poverty.” Indeed, SVP members can help in the absence of extended family and community that was commonplace a few decades ago. National president Adrian
Abel put into a wider context the value of the work done by the SVP. “We now expect the state to play the role that previously extended family and friends, relatives and neighbours played. As the state withdraws its support, SVP members have a great role to play. “They have the time that is needed for people who may be isolated and have needs that go beyond their medical or financial conditions. “The SVP gives people time. It is not a branch of social services or an NHS Trust, but rather an organisation where those in need become friends in every sense of the word.” JM To find out more about supporting or joining the SVP, visit www.svp.org.uk, telephone 020 7703 3030, or email info@ svp.org.uk JUSTICE MAGAZINE 49
Dr John Newton of Aid to the Church in Need (UK) says we must help those suffering genocide in Syria and Iraq
The evidence is there THE COMMONS MAY have voted unanimously to declare attacks on Christians, Yazidis and other minorities by Daesh (ISIS) as genocide, and to refer the matter to the UN – but unless the British Government takes firm action the intentions of the MPs risk being frustrated. Here at Aid to the Church in Need (UK) we welcomed the result of the Commons vote on Wednesday, April 2 2016, which was passed by 278 to 0 – with ministers abstaining because of a Government whip. Our national director Neville Kyrke-Smith stressed how important it was that the motion leads to action to help suffering groups. He said: “We are delighted by this result – as it should now lead to action for Christians and other persecuted minorities in the Middle East. Our project partners in the region say they often feel abandoned and forgotten by the West, we hope that this will lead to concrete steps being taken that will give them real hope amidst the ongoing turmoil.” But there are concerns that the motion in the Commons may be ensnared in procedure and circumlocution. The day after it was passed, Baroness Anelay Yazidi refugee children Photo: Defend International of St Johns, speaking in the Lords, repeated the line that the Government their parents. She showed us recent film had previously used in response to calls refugees described relatives being kidfootage of herself talking with mothers for attacks on minorities to be labelled as napped, killed and parts of their bodies — more than one — who had seen their genocide: “It is clearly a matter for judisent back to their families. There were own children crucified”. cial authorities to determine whether a stories of children being threatened at Other cases included 250 children put genocide has taken place.” gunpoint by extremists, of neighbours through a dough kneader and burnt in Yet the motion in the Commons clear- suddenly turning on the Christians they an oven – the oldest being just four years ly called for the UK to start the proper le- had lived in peace with for years. old. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt gal processes rolling in the UN, but there MP Fiona Bruce was able to prothat Daesh is targeting Christian, Yazidi is no sign so far that the Government vide the Commons with an even more and other minority communities. The intends to do so – although Baroness shocking litany when she introduced evidence of an attempted genocide is Anelay affirmed that they continue to the motion. Referring to evidence from already there. be committed to collecting data about Yvette, a woman who had flown in from What the UK Government must do is atrocities. Syria to address parliamentarians at a show that they have not forgotten the But the evidence is not wanting. meeting the evening before, Mrs Bruce minorities of the Middle East sufferWhen I spoke with Syrian and Iraqi refu- related how she had heard about “Chrising from such atrocities and take clear gees in Lebanon and Jordan they related tians being killed and tortured, and of action to help them. JM a litany of horrors. Several Christian children being beheaded in front of 50 JUSTICE MAGAZINE
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Published on Jun 17, 2016
Justice Magazine is a quarterly publication that reports on and aims to further interest in the Catholic Church’s social teaching. It takes...