Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Forming, storming and performing – View from the Chair.

by Lloyd on 16.10.10
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Lloyd with the Vice Chair (Staffing) Pat Hunter

At this time in the year most groups will have been meeting for over a month and whether they are groups with whole new cohorts or just young people come back after life changing summer camps and exchanges the group dynamics can often be very different than before.

However you facilitate the group through its new dynamics, the old adage of forming, storming and performing, group work matters. It is the core of our work and of our movement and it is that weekly, daily work that we, the General Council of the Woodcraft Folk, are here to support. Carly Walker-Dawson writes more about the latest General Council meeting and how you can get involved in our work. To help us help you!

Many of us come from groups, and continue to run groups throughout our time on General Council while others pause our local work to take on a wider support role. Many people come and go from General Council, but one member that will stay in many people’s memories is Trevor Baker who served on General Council and was a dedicated group leader for many years. Trevor, blind from diabetes, not only led local groups but was a keen internationalist taking groups on exchanges, often in an era when international travel to the East was very hard. He was even declined entrance to the USA because of his cooperation with children from USSR; a fact that he remained proud of. There will be a fuller obituary of Trevor on the Woodcraft Folk website in later days and I’m sure that many who knew him will want to celebrate his life.

The recognition of international work is important, and while the world is getting smaller in terms of transport and communications, for the poorer of this world it is often harder to travel in now than it was 50 years ago. The paradox of greater communications, but more restricted travel is highlighted in the article, by Sarah Susman about the refusal to allow our South African friends entry to the UK on a planned exchange this summer. Sarah explains how for the first time the UK government have requested visas and large guarantors for visiting groups from South Africa. Despite a written invitation from the Mayor of Brighton and that this exchange is well established, it was still not enough. One has to wonder if these were rich, white, South Africans, would the visas have been refused?

Discrimination is one thing that many of us continue to work against locally and nationally, and the rise of the English Defence League must worry many of us. I am pleased to see many districts and members, from Bradford to Brighton and Leicester standing up for a tolerant and diverse society against the bile of the EDL. You will be able to read how Leicestershire Woodcraft Folk recently took part in a diversity celebration against the EDL.

Another piece of resistance that many members will be taking part in is the Education Demonstration on the 10.11.2010 in London. It is against the cuts in our higher education system and the proposal to again increase fees that students pay. The demo, which has been called by the National Union of Students, the Lecturers Union (UCU) with the TUC and the British Youth Council, will have a Woodcraft contingent and if you are free I urge you to go.

While the politics of fear motivate some, a positive message is a powerful tool and in the other articles this month you will see many things that are happening around the UK to make our movement stronger. This goes out as we hold the annual staffing conference of the Woodcraft Folk, and I am delighted to be attending. Our staff, working tirelessly, up and down the country are an asset to our movement, they support us, the members, and get on with almost everything that we throw at them, so here is a little thank you from all of us for the help that they give us.

I hope that you enjoy this news update and, like me, are looking forward to the new website that will be launched at the end of the month. The website is only as good as the articles posted on it. So get posting, and let’s help to make Woodcraft Folk a bigger, more connected movement.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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