We Feel Inspired - by Amnesty International UK's AGM and Conference

The venue for Amnesty International UK's National Conference and AGM in Nottingham

One of our members writes (in April):

My wife and I attended our first Amnesty International Conference and Annual General Meeting at the weekend and we were not disappointed! We are relatively new to Amnesty so didn't really know what to expect but the people we met and the talks/workshops we attended left us feeling empowered and proud to be part of a global movement for change.

The main thing that I would take away from the weekend is that Amnesty seems to be broadening the scope of its focus. From the 'Austerity and Human Rights' workshop we gained an invaluable insight into the human rights issues that are all around us right here in the UK. Socio-economic issues that many would not see as human rights issues but by definition are absolutely valid issues, taken straight from Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. We discussed issues such as the right to access to food, housing and social security in times of adversity. We left the workshop with a strong sense that these issues do belong in scope of Amnesty and that they are the very issues that could help broaden the membership of the organisation at a local level.

The stars of the show were the young members from youth groups and student groups across the country. From ideas they presented in workshops to debating the AGM resolutions, these young people showed they are future leaders and their enthusiasm can be an invaluable driving force in mobilising activists. The highlight was seeing many young people up on stage with the new Secretary General Kumi Naidoo, protesting for climate change, another issue that quite rightly is being picked up by Amnesty International.

Amnesty International's new Secretary General Kumi Naidoo in conversation about climate change at AIUK's National Conference and AGM in Nottingham in April 2019

As we all know, campaigning for human rights is as important as ever. Lyndsay Burtonshaw of the Stansted 15 said something that I think will have resonated with many of us. They said that they often feel like a fraud and suffer 'Impostor Syndrome' when defending human rights, that they are not qualified to take on some of these issues. I know I have often felt like this, having been blessed with coming from a pretty privileged background. However, this shouldn't be a reason to do nothing, if anything it should empower us to do more.

And that is how I feel after this weekend, empowered to do more. We came away with some great ideas for our York Pride event in June, ideas for local campaigns and contacts throughout Amnesty that I am sure will prove invaluable in the future. If you would like to join us then I will see you at the next meeting!

Happy Birthday to Azza Soliman!

We wish Azza Soliman a happy birthday, in Arabic, at our monthly meeting last month

Our monthly meeting in April took place on the birthday of Azza Soliman, who campaigns in support of abused women in Egypt. To mark the occasion, we took this photo and sent it to her. She liked it!

Supporting Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Wakefield

Linda Fielding (second from the left) at our monthly meeting last month
Also at our monthly meeting in April, Linda Fielding talked about her work with refugees and asylum-seekers in Wakefield (which has at any one time 300 new asylum-seekers). She is a member of Wakefield City of Sanctuary and the Wakefield Local Group of Amnesty International UK. Her work is practical - providing clothes to newly arrived asylum-seekers and "Welcome to the World" packs for new babies. The "City of Sanctuary" also supports asylum-seekers through the vagaries of the refugee process.

Our Monthly Meeting in May

Our next monthly meeting takes place on Tuesday 14 May at the usual venue - York Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York YO1 9RL. We do not have a guest speaker so the meeting starts at 7.30 pm. We finish by 9.00 pm at the latest. As always, everyone is welcome to attend.