Humanists letter published in the South Shropshire Journal (June 11th edition)
An oral history study
by Dr Richard Harding
I am a retired GP interested in the history of medicine, and acquired an MA in history from the Open University. At the beginning of Lockdown, The Friends of Ludlow Museum asked me to do an oral history of the pandemic, and kindly funded a digital recorder.
Oral witness is, like a medical consultation, confidential, and requires the written permission of the witness. Written transcripts are crucial in case the recording becomes corrupted.
I selected 34 witnesses from various sources. Each gave a pair of interviews six months apart. The first set of interviews was between June and August 2020 and the second between November 2020 and February 2021.
Here are some quotations which illustrate certain themes.Continue reading “Ludlow in Lockdown”
New website explores the ethical movement, its people and contribution to UK history
April 30th marked the 125th anniversary of Humanists UK.
In 1896 a small group freethinkers came together for their first meeting. The Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK) joined together existing ethical societies for fellowship and the promotion and practice of morality without reference to theological ideas, emphasising a ‘purely human and natural’ basis for ethics and action.
To mark this milestone, Humanists UK has launched a new Humanist Heritage website that charts the UK’s rich and storied history of the humanist movement.
Hundreds of humanist campaigners, many of them women, have been profoundly under-recognised or simply excised from history. So too, the humanist motivations of many of our national heroes have often been overlooked. Humanist Heritage celebrates activists previously resigned to obscure archives, as well the humanist values of national heroes including figures like Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin, and NHS founder Nye Bevan.
Explore the rich history and influence of humanism in the UK – learn more at www.heritage.humanists.uk
Human rights, SACREs, and the law
People may have seen some recent media coverage about Southampton Council agreeing to revisit a decision blocking local humanist Mary Wallbank from joining Southampton’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE).
With the support of Humanists UK, Ms Wallbank is making a legal challenge on the basis that her exclusion violates human rights law.Continue reading “Decision to deny humanists voice on RE in Southampton to be retaken after legal threat”
The Unholy Mrs Knight and the Hypocritical Humanist
In the key note lecture from the 2019 Humanists UK Convention, Humanists UK President Professor Alice Roberts takes us on a personal exploration of Margaret Knight’s 1950s radio essay series, ‘Morals Without Religion’, to examine changing attitudes to, and controversies around, the idea of non-religious morality. She discusses the place of faith schools in modern Britain and why arguments against them often provoke fierce debate.
Campaign asks people to tick “no religion” option on Census
A campaign by Humanists UK is encouraging people who are not in any meaningful sense religious to tick the “no religion” option on the 2021 Census.
In England and Wales, the question is “What is your religion?”, and the non-religious option is “No religion”. In Northern Ireland the question is “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?”, and the non-religious option is “None”.
The leading nature of the question and resulting distortion of the facts matters because Census results are used by government and local authorities to make important policy decisions. These include how to allocate funding to state services such as education, health, social care, and pastoral care.
Read more about the campaign: “If you’re not religious, say so!”
The South Shropshire Journal published our letter providing a quick explanation of humanism and referring readers to our website if they’d like more information.
Here’s the clipping from the newspaper (Feb. 26th edition).
Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region came together to put on four Zoom events every Tuesday evening during February 2021.
The organizing committee comprised Sarah Robbins (Chair), Bob Jelley, Mark Taylor, Jim Brooks and Simon Nightingale.
Here is the fourth and final installment. Sarah Robbins, Chair of Birmingham Humanists, takes us through a review of West Midlands Humanists Month and then introduces the main speaker, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK.
Andrew’s talk on The Future of Humanism begins around 4.45 with a Q&A session beginning around 20 minutes in.
Recordings of all the sessions are posted on our website for people to view at their convenience. Here are links to the preceding three events:
In November last year Joyce wrote an article for the Ludlow Humanists, Life in a Time of Lockdown. She was excited to do it and it stimulated her to new thoughts. Joyce’s physical health had been slowly declining for at least the last two years. But mentally it was another story…
Joyce was born in Brixton, in London, but with family connections to this area which she came to know well. She was an only child, she earned a place at Oxford University to study English, but turned it down for love. She married young, lived abroad and had three children in quick succession. As the children grew up, she began to train as a social worker and had a number of senior positions in local authorities and at the Maudsley hospital. She moved to this area in the 1990’s and had several child-related posts – for Hereford diocese, and chaired the local the Foster Care panel.
In Ludlow, Joyce’s energy drew her to be involved in so many activities and campaigns (she was one of the founding members of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend our NHS), and she supported so many individuals in the issues of life.
In 2002 she published her Common Place book – a collection of prose and poetry which she had been drawn to over the years. It is of course a direct reflection of how she was: feisty, wickedly humorous, determined and independent, wise and enthusiastic and a fighter for others, full of warmth and humanity.
Her article for Ludlow humanists shows her intelligence, still looking to the future, willing to change in order to bring a better world for all. She had those values and marks of character that made her a much loved, and now much missed, friend to many.
Joyce was 86 years old when she died on Thursday 18th February. She was in Hereford County Hospital, where she had been for several weeks and had contracted Covid-19.
Read Joyce’s article: Life in a Time of Lockdown
23rd February 2021
Here’s the third Zoom meeting organised by Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region for the month of February.
At the February 16th event, humanist practitioners shared their insights and experiences of working in different areas of humanism in action. Here’s how the session breaks down:
|Event Chair||Sarah Robbins|
|Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (SACREs)||Jane Sault||2:35|
|School speakers||Brian Goredema-Braid||10:30|
|Pastoral care/chaplaincy||Pete Bispham||25:40|
|Question and answer session||44:15|
Please see the events section of our website for details of the other events in the West Midlands Humanism in Action Month and how to sign up.