My husband and I had a fun afternoon hanging a long string of bunting down the length of the garden a few weeks ago. It was part of the preparations for the ‘Swanwick’ online conference. The bunting has been made by Methodist Women across the country as part of the 10 year anniversary. The panels show examples of the range of projects that groups of Methodist Women have been involved in over the past ten years. They reflect the wide expanse of issues of social justice that have received attention, had awareness raised about them, or been part of campaigns for change. Fifty nine panels were made, many double sided, and joined to form bunting, as a physical message telling of the breadth of interests that Methodist Women in Britain engage with.
The conference focussed on human trafficking, a cruel and wide ranging exploitation of vulnerable people, which is found In every country on Earth, and which has been growing during the pandemic. Our speaker, Sister Imelda Poole, has worked in the field for sixteen years in Albania where when to has built an NGO to train young people helping to prevent them becoming trafficked, but also founding refuges for those rescued from trafficking situations. She has a wide experience which came through in her Keynote talks, taking us through the reasons for trafficking, work being done to reduce it and what we can do to help make a difference for the 40 million plus men women and children estimated to be enslaved. Over seventy percent of these are women and girls, one in four children, sometimes as young as two years old.
It was a thrill for me that Imelda agreed to speak at our conference. We had originally hoped that we might be able to gather in person, but it became evident that we would have to work online. We were a little nervous about this prospect, but it went as well as we could have hoped, and we are now looking to edit the recordings and add much of the weekend’s activities to our YouTube channel. So, if you were unable to join the conference on the days, look out for it on YouTube – coming soon.
I am so grateful to the team who helped to plan and put together the weekend, and also to those who have said kind words [written or spoken] following the event. We hope that in 2022 we will be able to gather in person, when Jill Baker and Fiona Kendall are due to be our speakers, after the enforced abandonment of the conference in 2020, because of lockdown.
Please pray for those who are held in cruel, often horrific situations, through no fault of their own, and also for those who are working towards eliminating human slavery.