Storm Arwen arrived the night before our members’ meeting on 27 November. Plans for a fully-blended meeting were rapidly changed as trains across the north were cancelled and all but a handful of Friends were able to get to the Meeting House in Bolton. So most joined via Zoom, representing Area Meetings from most from across Scotland, North Wales and Northern England. We were pleased to welcome newly appointed members.
In our opening session, NFPB members shared reflections arising from the COP26 conference that had taken place in Glasgow earlier in the month. Some Friends had been in Glasgow (and other cities), participating in demonstrations and a number of Friends had met with, supported and been inspired by some of the groups of walkers from different parts who had taken their witness to COP26 on foot. Amidst the small steps forward in the conference itself, Friends acknowledged disappointment – but not complete surprise. Friends spoke of the encouragement they got from the energy and passion of the civil society presence, including opportunities to raise the voices of those most affected by climate heating, which can (must?) be built on in coming years.
Connections between military activities and policies, and carbon emissions were among some of the cross-cutting intersectional issues named by Friends in reflecting on COP26. An alternative and wider perspective of building security is one that Rethinking Security and Secure Scotland are promoting. Jo Frew, the Outreach Coordinator for Rethinking Security, joined us during our meeting. Jo outlined the aims of the Rethinking Security and of their Alternative Security Review. NFPB is active in developing and promoting this and Friends were encouraged to help make connections and opportunities for local engagement. Our nuclear weapons working group was reappointed and asked to continue its work, with the first meeting in March next year of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons being a particular focus.
NFPB Trustees reported that we were continuing to draw on reserves in our current year and budget for 2022, with some funds invested to generate an additional income and efforts being made to promote more consistent levels of financial support from Area Meetings. Phoebe Spence was thanked for her sustained and significant contribution to our work as Treasurer. The draft of a new governing document was presented to members for consideration. With minor changes, this will be brought to a subsequent meeting for approval.
Venues for our meetings in 2022 have still to be decided and the covid situation remains uncertain still. We expect to hold these as blended/hybrid meetings, so would be pleased to hear from Meetings – with good rail connections if possible – that have a good technical set-up for hosting such meetings.