The open networking day was held at CAFOD Romero House, Southwark. After a report on the meeting of Justice and Peace(Europe) held recently in Malta, in which we heard how refugees ( for whom the country is the first staging post between Africa and Europe) are treated with compassion and kindness, we heard presentations from speakers representing their own agency, giving us insights from their own standpoint-ministry.
Tim Jones (Jubilee Debt Campaign) insisted that debts which are too big, need to be cancelled (Cf the Biblical idea of Jubilee).
Next Niall Cooper spoke of the effects of policies which come into force in April 2013. These will ensure that many more people will be driven into desperate poverty. Church Action on poverty, which Niall leads, wants Fair Tax, Fair Press, Fair Pay (the living wage) and a Fair Say for the poor, about their situation.
Alison Gelder, speaking for Housing Justice spoke of the increase in homelessness and in temporary housing which will occur following next April. She asked us to continue challenging policies and to lobby for an increase in affordable housing. Reminding us that when universal credit is introduced all claims must be made on line, she asserted that ⅓ of our population is not computer literate.
Finally Michael Kerwan SJ of Heythrop College spoke of how our people’s fairness and community mindedness was manifested during the time of the Olympic and Paralympic games. He also said that president Obama was elected, in part because of his opponents’ remarks which showed he lacked respect for a large part of the electorate, namely the poor. Michael Kerwan said that the Church must live by the principles of social Catholic Action and must maintain its option for the poor and vulnerable as we read in the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 25.
During the afternoon session participants had the opportunity to network with J&P activists from around the country and to get updates on campaigns from national agencies.
This was a very good J&P day.