The next meeting will be held by zoom at 7.30pm on Wednesday 28th July 2021. For further information please contact the Secretary on.07887 980004/ 01442 823514 or by email to email@example.com
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On Friday 28 May the Justice & Peace Group was very pleased to have the opportunity of meeting virtually with Mr Gagan Mohindra, MP for South West Hertfordshire, which includes Tring. We were very grateful to him for giving his time to meet with us and to address the questions we put to him about relief of poverty and climate change – world issues which the Justice & Peace Group believe are opportune to pursue at this time given the G7 meeting in June and COP26 in November. Our government has a great opportunity as host of both meetings to influence world governments to behave in a way which would be of enormous benefit to the world and everyone within it.
Following discussions among members of the J&P Group it was agreed that three questions should be put to our MP. After each of the questions were posed by the Group Secretary, Michael Demidecki, Mr Mohindra responded. After each response there were supplementary questions, so the meeting took the form of a discussion.
Question 1. 150 million people are set to fall into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. But instead of increasing support to fight global poverty and support the global recovery, the UK government is slashing the aid budget this year. With 2021 being the year that the UK has a leadership role to play on the global stage, we are saddened to see Britain turning its back on the world like this. Will you support our calls to increase the quantity and quality of UK spending on overseas aid?
Response: I have to politely decline. The global pandemic has meant that the Chancellor has had to make difficult decisions, and consequently, the UK government has spent a lot of money. I appreciate the reduction from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% on aid and a smaller GDP has meant a double whammy. I’m hoping that as we come out of this pandemic, we will come back bigger and stronger. I know there is an aspiration to return to 0.7%.
Supplementary Question (Julian Eaton, High Street Baptist Church): The consequence has been very bad for Britain’s reputation abroad. I work in global health. We spend a lot of time working out how to spend the money allocated. What’s most painful is not just that the money has been cut but the fact that we’ve cut money for the most vulnerable people.
Response: I will feed this information back to my colleagues. As we come out of the pandemic, I hope we will introduce more funding. I understand, though, the rationale for taking the decision. It’s not the place any of us wants to be.
Supplementary Question (Olive Conway, Corpus Christi Church): People all over the world need vaccines. Are vaccines included in the cuts? ‘None of us are safe until all of us are safe.’
Response: I would be shocked if vaccines are included in the cuts. After all, we receive medicines ourselves from other countries. If you hear anything which conflicts with what I’ve said, then please let me know.
Question 2. Pope Francis has been clear in his calls for debt cancellation and the head of the World Bank has said that more debt cancellation is essential for low-income countries. We know that cancelling debts is the easiest way to allow poorer countries to recover from the pandemic. Will you support our calls for full debt cancellation for low-income countries that need it?
Response:The idea of debt cancellation is right. I’m a firm believer in the soft power that Britain has, and questions of debt reduction can allow us to set conditions with regard to certain other issues within some of these countries.
Supplementary Question (Julian Eaton): Anyone who works in international development knows it’s not non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that will change the world, it’s international trade.
Response:Trade is very important. I know when I speak to Department of Trade ministers that if we argue just on price we will always lose.
Supplementary Question (Michael Demidecki, Corpus Christi Church): The G20 countries have suspended debt until the end of 2021. But private creditors have so far refused to take part in these debt suspension efforts of those wealthiest countries. The UK is the key jurisdiction for international debt contracts. The UK parliament has passed legislation in the past to protect poor countries from being sued by lenders who refuse to participate in internationally agreed debt deals. We need the government to act now and update the law to prevent this immoral practice. Would you write to the Chancellor asking for his support for new legislation to prevent a debt crisis?
Response: Mr Mohindra indicated he would like further information and so Michael Demidecki continued as below.
It was in 2010 the UK passed the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Act. This prevented any creditors suing one of 40 countries eligible for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for more than the creditor would have got if they had taken part in the debt relief.
Question 3: Millions of our sisters and brothers worldwide are already facing the reality of the climate crisis, with homes, livelihoods and loved ones at risk from more frequent and more severe storms, floods and droughts. Yet it is the world’s richest countries, including the UK, who bear the greatest responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions driving temperature rises. What will you do to ensure that our government takes the climate crisis seriously at COP26 and that an agreement is reached that ensures we stay within 1.5 degrees of global average warming?
response: This is a really important subject. There is gathering momentum and Government is starting to talk about COP26. We saw with the Paris Climate Accord that if big parties walk away, we fall over. So there needs to be a coalition effort and we need to use our diplomatic skills. We need to treat sovereign nations with respect and help developing countries.
Supplementary Question (Polly Eaton, High Street Baptist Church): I appreciate that we cannot do this by ourselves, but we can lead. We can say what we think the future could look like.
Response: In the run-up to COP26 you will see a lot more coming out. We will talk about a decarbonisation plan for transport; I am a PPS in the Department of Transport. We need to encourage innovation and influence change rather than force it, improve design standards and well thought through planning strategies like the Local Plan.
Supplementary Question (Nicky Bull, High Street Baptist Church): What do you think about local plans when we don’t include a better environmental plan? I’m concerned that the government have not introduced building regulations that would ensure all new-build housing and other premises are constructed to the highest possible sustainability and environmental standards.
Response: We need better sustainable strategies. By way of background, I used to be a Councillor in Essex. I still remember the situation before local plans were introduced. Local plans are better than that. They should give the opportunity for people to say where they want housing to be built to a certain standard. So, I would encourage the community to speak to their local councillors and influence change at grass routes level.
Supplementary Question (Nicky Bull): What would be your experience of how much lobbying local councillors can achieve when it comes to building standards?
Response: It seems we are in the hands of the local councils. If we want property to be of a certain quality, it can be extremely expensive. What do we do with those properties built in the early 60s/70s which would cost a great deal to be brought up to scratch? Developers just wish to know what standards are needed. I believe there’s enough existing regulation for the local government arena to get the result it is hoping to achieve.
Comment on response (Nicky Bull): It is my understanding that it will be difficult if not impossible for local people to influence the standards to which housing is built. The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, The Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Mayor of London are among those who have raised significant concerns about the fact that once local housing plans have been finalised, there will be little or no opportunity for communities to influence subsequent development. Surely what is needed is a strengthening of the national building regulations in favour of genuine environmental sustainability?
Supplementary Question (Polly Eaton): It should be a rule. Something we can do right now is to say no new house will use natural gas?
Response: The question is what is there now in the marketplace? There will be some flexibility, but I don’t think we can impose this and expect it to happen tomorrow.
Supplementary Question (Olive Conway): With regard to the standard of new house build, improvements are being made especially with regard to the use of solar panels. When I sold houses for developers standards were more environmentally friendly. Hopefully this will continue?
Response: I will look into it and this should be part of the Local Plan process.
In concluding, Michael Demidecki thanked Mr. Mohindra very much for meeting with us. He said he felt the discussion had been most useful and hoped we would meet with him again on future occasions.
On Saturday, 10 October 2020, the Apple Fayre Farmers’ Market took place in Church Square, Tring, and the annual scarecrow competition was held on the same occasion. The aim of the competition was to create and enter a humorous Scarecrovid-19, and the entries lined up inside the grounds of St Peter & St Paul Church behind Church Square looked pretty impressive. The competition was judged by the Town Mayor of Tring, Councillor Mrs Roxanne Ransley, and Jo Jameson, the competition organiser. First place was awarded to the Justice & Peace Group, Tring for their bee-keeper scarecrow and the children’s section was won by Dundale Primary School.
The bee-keeper scarecrow drew attention to the current ‘Make Tring a Bee Town’ campaign, run by the Justice & Peace Group in cooperation with other organisations in the town.
We had a wonderful time at our first Community Feast on Saturday 7 March. Ideas shared, community links made, food enjoyed, eco tips passed on. We encouraged the food to be contributed on the LOAF principles of local, organic, animal friendly and fairtrade. Fellowship and fun.
We are currently asking parliamentary candidates for the South West Herts Constituency, which covers the market town of Tring, where they stand on matters important for justice and peace in the world.
To download a copy of these questions please click on the link below.
The chocolate challenge proved very popular on the wet Saturday morning after the Apple Fayre parade. While the results were close, Fairtrade definitely won! This of course was only the taste test, and we feel strongly that on ethical grounds Fairtrade is the out and out winner. Our choices make a real difference to real people.
On 28th September the Justice & Peace Group, Tring put on a new fundraising event, not tried before – a bingo evening. Around 46 people packed into Corpus Christi Church Hall and soon it was “eyes down”. After an uncertain start when many were getting used to the rules, the evening settled down and “line” was called which brought a prize of £5 and then later it was “bingo” when a card was filled. This time the prize was £10. At half time there were refreshments and a short talk about the charity being supported, the International Justice Mission. Esther Swaffield -Bray, the Director of England IJM, had impressed us with the good work this charity is doing when she gave her talk in High Street Baptist Church hall last year (reported in Comment, February 2019).
The International Justice Mission is the world’s largest anti-slavery organisation and they have a plan to eliminate slavery everywhere. Their plan, to quote from their website (https://www.ijmuk.org/our-work) is this:
“First, we find the children and adults who are victims of violence, forced labour, or sex trafficking. Then, we support local police to rescue them. Once they’re free, we make sure survivors’ every day needs are met. We partner with organisations to give every survivor a safe home, food, medical care, counselling, education, and a tailored plan to thrive. Second, we make sure criminals cannot continue to harm their victims….Once survivors of slavery are rescued and their abusers are in prison, we go after the root that caused slavery in the first place……”
IJM say they have worked with police to rescue more than 49,000 people from slavery and other forms of oppression. And they’ve helped local authorities arrest more than 3,500 suspected slave owners and other criminals!
Those attending the bingo evening were exceedingly generous in their support for this very worthwhile charity and a count the next day revealed that £505 had been raised! So a big thank you to all who made this evening possible- to members of the Justice & Peace Group and of course to all those whose arms we twisted to come along!
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On Tuesday 2nd April 2019 David Taylor from the FairTrade Foundation gave a presentation on the recent work of the Foundation. The presentation was held at the High Street Baptist Church in the centre of Tring and was well attended by Tring citizens. Tring is a FairTrade Town.
The Fairtrade Stall at the Farmers Market on 9th March 2019 highlighted where Fairtrade Produce can be purchased in Tring.
Members of the Justice & Peace Group showing shoppers the Fairtrade products that are for sale in Tesco's Tring.
Look out for the Justice & Peace Group Stall at the Tring Farmers Market on 9th March 2019. We will be showcasing the wide range of Fairtrade products that are available in Tring. Come and have a look. You can also pick up a guide to where you can purchase Fairtrade products and Local Produce in Tring and the surrounding villages.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust published a flow chart which visually demonstrated the ten stages of Genocide.
Genocide never just happens. There is always a set of circumstances which occur or which are created to build a climate in which genocide can take place.
These stages may occur simultaneously or in a different order.
Stage 1. Classification: Differences between people are not respected. There is a divison between 'us' and 'them'.
Stage 2. Symbolisation: A visual manifestation of difference. Certain groups are forced to wear symbols to mark their difference. Identifying them as objects of blame and hatred.
Stage 3. Discrimination. The dominant group denies civil rights to certain groups - treating them as lesser citizens or non citizens.
Stage 4. Dehumanisation: The denial of basic human rights by viewing certain groups as not human.
Stage 5. Organisation: Genocides are always planned and often regimes of hatred will train and incite those to carry out the destruction of certain groups.
Stage 6. Polarisation: Propaganda in the media is used to increase hatred of certain groups - to blame them for the ills of society and problems in the country.
Stage 7. Preparation. The term Genocide is never used by the regime - instead the planned destruction of a certain group of people will be disguised under a euphemism such as the Nazis' Final Solution.
Stage 8. Persecution. Certain groups will be separated from the general population and death lists will be drawn up.
Stage 9. Extermination. Identified victims are murdered in a deliberate and systematic campaign of violence.
Stage 10. Denial. The perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime. Evidence is destroyed and witnesses intimidated.
Recent Genocides: Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.
Do any of these stages ring any bells today? Even in your own country?
Very many thanks to everyone who supported the Bumnotes Concert and especially to all those who helped on the night.
The event was very successful and we raised £1049 which together with a contribution of £200 from the Bumnotes means that £1249 will be divided equally between the two charities Medecins Sans Frontieres and The Pepper Foundation. Robert Breakwell, Founder and Patron of the Pepper Foundation has said that he enjoyed the concert and that he was amazed at the sum raised.
Peter Dodson of the Justice & Peace Group delivers books School Aid - July 2018
“Overwhelmed” was how Peter Dobson described the response to an appeal by TJP for books for Schoolaid. “We asked local churches and schools to collect
children’s books and stationery - and we collected 3 enormous car loads of books, plus plenty of stationery. “
Schoolaid is based near Beaconsfield, has been operating for about 20 years and distributes books to schools in Africa. On-the-ground project officers working for Schoolaid work closely with schools to get libraries and reading schemes working efficiently. Schoolaid needs reading books and reference books for all school ages, ranging from first readers through to young adults. Over 100,000 books are going to libraries every year thanks to this charity’s work.
Many thanks to the following organisations that gave such fantastic support to this great cause:
Tring High School
Tring Park School
Gayhurst School, Gerrards Cross
St Thomas More School, Berkhamstead
Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Tring
St Martha’s Methodist Church, Tring
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Berkhamsted
Residents of Nursery Gardens, Tring
Mrs. Bridget Marllin, Berkhamsted
Traidcraft stall on 23rd June 2018
Members of the Justice & Peace Group helped out at the Traidcraft stall at Tring Carnival on 23rd June 2018. A range of Fairtrade goods was offered for sale and Fairtrade literature was available too.
The Grand Pudding Quiz,
held at Corpus Christi Church Hall, Tring on Saturday 16th June 2018
Almost 70 people took part in the Grand Pudding Quiz, organised by the Justice & Peace Group, affiliated to Churches Together in Tring, with net proceeds going to the Watford & Three Rivers Refugee Partnership.
The team at each table gave itself a name and the answers to the quiz questions were exchanged with different teams and marked before being handed in.
At half time there was a break to sample the delicious puddings, made by members of the Justice & Peace Group, many of the puddings having been made with Fairtrade ingredients. This was the time for a short resume of the work of the WTRRP and for the raffle.
The quiz then resumed, and after a nail biting finish ‘The Jolly Mixtures’ were announced as the winning team and were rewarded with Fairtrade chocolate bar prizes.
The raffle was then drawn, the prizes having been generously donated by local businesses. The evening had been a tremendous success and an opportunity for publicity for the excellent work carried out by the WTRRP.
£683.02 was raised on their behalf.
Justice & Peace Group Member honoured by Town Council
On 23rd April 2018 Michael Demidecki, Secretary to the Justice & Peace Group, was honoured by being awarded Tring Town Council's Community Award at the annual meeting of the Tring Town Council. He was presented with a Peace Lily by the Mayor of Tring, Councillor Gerald Wilkins, and later received a cheque payable to the Justice & Peace Group.
The award was for his contribution to the community life of Tring in his capacity as Secretary of the Justice & Peace Group, affiliated to Churches Together in Tring. Michael said afterwards that he had accepted the award on behalf of the whole Justice & Peace Group and not just himself. He added that the award was a complete surprise and that he was somewhat lost for words when his name was announced as recipient at the meeting.
To mark Fairtrade Fortnight the Justice & Peace Group organised a Pop Up Cafe in the foyer of the High Street Baptist Church in Tring on Saturday morning.
Free Fairtrade Coffee and Tea were on offer as well as a selection of home made cakes using Fairtrade ingredients.
There was a traidcraft stall full of fairtrade goodies to buy.
We thank Marks & Spencer, Tesco and the Co-op for their support and High street Baptist Church for providing the venue.
Our thanks also to all who supported this event including our Mayor, Gerald Wilkins.
Katy Chakrabortty, Head of Advocacy at Oxfam, will be speaking about Oxfam’s Campaign “Even it up” to oppose extreme inequality.
The talk follows the Churches Together AGM and starts at 8pm and ending 9pm.
The venue is St Peters and St. Paul’s Church in Tring High Street.
We are looking for more members! We usually meet on the last Wednesday evening of each month. You would be very welcome to join us – you can be involved as little or as much as you have time for.
If this sounds like something you would like to get involved with, please do contact our secretary Michael Demidecki on 07887 980004 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org