NEW Marching Towards Justice Study Guide now available to download here!

We’re very excited to make the new Marching Towards Justice Study Guide available for download here!

MTJ Study Guide Cover

 

This study guide is aimed at those attending or working at Salvation Army Corps or Centres who are interested in social justice, although it will be useful for many other settings. The four sessions cover history, method (x2 sessions) and next steps.  They are intended for a small group setting (e.g. a home group or staff team meeting) and should be done alongside the reading of the Marching Towards Justice, which can be downloaded here.

Continue reading “NEW Marching Towards Justice Study Guide now available to download here!”

New Justice-Seeking Resource available tomorrow! Marching Towards Justice Study Guide

Thanks to the support of The Centre for Theology and Community, we’re looking forward to releasing the Marching Towards Justice Study Guide on Sunday afternoon, after the commissioning of the authors, Sam Tomlin and Paul Williams, as Salvation Army Officers!

This Study Guide will accompany Marching Towards Justice which was released a year ago.

MTJ Study Guide Cover

Toddling Towards Justice: how your toddler group can change the world

“It’s not fair” she wailed, lips pouting and chin quivering, “I want to play houses”.
With four toddlers already squeezed into the playhouse and two more trying to crawl in through the door, my daughter was not happy with the state of things.
The problem is there just aren’t enough houses for everyone.

And that’s not just in the make believe world of pretend play. One of the biggest challenges facing our borough is the lack of genuinely affordable housing. As we’ve listened to the stories of our toddler families, it’s become clear that it’s a problem that particularly affects families in the borough. Many of the families connected with our Baby Bank are living in temporary accommodation, being moved from one B&B to another, or in cramped hostels, sharing cooking and play spaces with countless other families. Almost all the parents at our Messy Families parenting group named housing as one of the biggest stresses of their family life. For many the only hope of finding more suitable housing is to move outside the borough, away from their jobs and support networks.

IMG_1189So for some time we’ve been trying to find a way to involve our toddlers and their families in our campaign for more affordable housing in the borough. But this hasn’t been easy. Our assemblies with local councillors have usually taken place in the evenings and for many parents the prospect of an over-tired toddler the next day has just been too daunting! So in the lead up to our housing assembly we realised that we needed to get creative to make the children’s needs heard.
And getting creative is just what we did! The goal of the assembly was to ask the Leader of the Council to commit to working with Redbridge Citizens to build 250 genuinely affordable homes as part of a Community Land Trust. So we decided to show him what that would look like by asking the children to paint 250 houses to display around the room. Our toddlers love to paint and it made sense to use their skills to give the Councillor a vision of the change we could make together.
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We also invited parents to join our “pound4power” action, buying a share of the Community Land Trust for £1 as a sign of the real commitment of real people for the proposal. It wasn’t a big ask so parents were happy to sign up, with many buying shares for their children as well. Like the houses, “pound4power” is a reminder to the council that we have power to effect change in our community – people power.
CLT signup
So what have we learned about how our toddler group can change the world?
  1. Listen to what matters to families at the group – ask what puts pressure on their family life and what would make it better.
  2. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.
  3. Make the action small enough for little people to get involved, but big enough to get the message across!
Of course, these are just our first steps in justice seeking at toddler group. But as every parent knows, a child’s first steps are just the beginning of a whole new adventure!
Do you have any other experiences of getting children involved in justice-seeking?  Please share them in the comments below!

What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money

By John Clifton

There is a classic quote about management which says “what gets measured gets managed”. However, the full quote, as Simon Caulkin points out, says this:

What gets measured gets managed – even when it’s pointless to measure and manage it, and even if it harms the purpose of the organisation to do so.

In community organising terms power is defined as the capacity to act. There are two types of power: organised people and organised money. For most churches there’s not usually much money so we rely on the power of our people and the depth of the relationships that people build with each other. When it comes to the state and the market, however, they don’t have many people but they do have money. We can all think of obvious examples of how the state uses money as a lever of power: taxation, fines, tendering processes. We can think of even more obvious examples for how the market uses money as a lever of power.  Just a week or so ago I met a family of five, the three children were all in primary school, whose debit card had been used fraudulently and, despite their attempts, had not yet been reimbursed the money that they had lost.  When I met them they were waiting for the money to be put back into their account on Monday. Their account had been overdrawn since the week before and they had been threatened with charges for the overdraft. The family were scared, disoriented, and unfamiliar with such a situation. They came to The Army for help to get through the weekend.  This is just one example of how the market and its money impinges upon the everyday life of people.  It even happens accidentally simple sheet or simply due to bureaucratic or technological errors.  It becomes the responsibility of the power of people (civil society) to push back against the power of money (state and market). Continue reading “What gets measured gets managed… So measure relationships more than money”

The power of us: listening, vulnerability and making room for God

Guest post by Capt Emma Scott

photo 1“Mummy, what church do we live in?” This was the question 4 year-old Nathan asked about a year ago and it pretty much sums up the values of our Salvation Army gathering in Mitcham, London.

It was refreshing to read about the importance of visitation in the report ‘Marching Towards Justice and in particular the challenge to the status quo that visitation isn’t about me – spending time with someone because I know best and want to support them – but it’s about us, where we “…encourage both parties to speak freely about themselves.” As a leader in the church it can be really hard to make myself vulnerable to those around. My experience is that my ego compels me to have to keep a bit of mystery around who I am. The reality, however, is that I am a believer who messes up, struggles with faith and questions the world I see around me – church included. Continue reading “The power of us: listening, vulnerability and making room for God”

Do be do be do! Spiritual Exercises for justice-seeking #1

By Nick Coke

A year on and there’s only one sentence I can remember from the justice-seeking seminar. Such is the way of things, as we preachers and teachers well know. It came do be do be doright at the close, just as the speaker was heading for the door. She’d packed up her notes and left the microphone behind at the lectern when suddenly she glanced back over her shoulder, fixed her eyes on me and from under her breath came the throwaway remark – ‘of course we don’t do social justice, we live justly’. She disappeared out of the door and down the corridor. I looked around to see if anyone else was struck by the Colonel’s final word but the post-session hubbub had already began. Perhaps it was meant just for me.

I’ve pondered this one-liner ever since. Continue reading “Do be do be do! Spiritual Exercises for justice-seeking #1”

…a Salvationist, telling my own story…

Guest post from Panna Simon

When I first came to The Salvation Army in 2012, I was 8 months pregnant and had just been made homeless. I had moved into a privately rented flat that had turned out not to be fit for human inhabitance.  There was mould, severe struPanna & David (2)ctural problems, no heating and dodgy electricity. It was basically built on top of a garage. This was meant to be the place that I would bring my son back to.

I reported this to the council who condemned the property straight away but then wouldn’t help me with further accommodation because I was in-between an application changing from jobseekers allowance to maternity allowance.  I worked really hard to find a flat and then was able to get some money together for the deposit.  I moved in on the Monday. I went in to labour on the Tuesday. Just in time! Continue reading “…a Salvationist, telling my own story…”