Q1 What is the relationship between Woking Amnesty Group and Amnesty International?
The Local Amnesty Group at Woking carries out Amnesty International's campaigning on a local level, by writing letters, organising petitions, promoting AI at stalls, holding events and raising funds. Amnesty International provides the Group with information, campaign materials, and the support of their full time staff and trainers.
Q2 What is the purpose of the monthly meetings?
On the first Monday of every month we meet to discuss the group’s activities, plan future events, share information on our core campaigns, and write letters. Events also take place outside of the regular meetings (see our Dates section).
Q3 What kind of commitment do I have to make if I join?
It’s entirely up to you. Ideally, you would come to the regular meetings, but if you can’t, you can still join in with the Group’s activities by keeping an eye on this website, and reading the emails circulated by the Group's Chair Person and several other group members. If you can write at least one letter a month, this would be great.
For those who are very pressed for time, Amnesty makes this easy by publishing actions on the AIUK website. All you have to do is enter your name and click the Send button. Also, various cases and actions are circulated by email with direct links to these actions or given addresses or fax number, so you can participate in them in less than a minute.
If you become the head of a campaign, Treasurer, minutes secretary or Chair, then you will have to dedicate more time to running your area. If you know that you are not going to be able to make a specific meeting then you can tell another member who is attending, or email the Chair person of our group (breddal[at]BTInternet.com)
If you become a regular member, it would be great if you were willing to join AI UK as a member, but there is no pressure for you to do so. You can also give money to AI at each meeting - we usually have an AI collecting tin ready for donations. This helps towards Group costs, including the cost of materials for stalls, and postage for all the letters we write.
Q4 Apart from attending the monthly meeting, how else can I get involved?
You can help organise or take part in events, stalls, fund-raisers, press publicity, get-togethers to write letter-writings, whatever your skills and interests, there will be a creative way in which we can apply them to the Group’s work. We are always looking for imaginative ways to increase the effectiveness of our campaigning and are open to new ideas. If you have a particular area of interest, you can volunteer to run a campaign yourself, or bring Amnesty materials to the regular meeting for the rest of the Group to work on.
Q5 What is the purpose of letter-writing?
Letter-writing is one of the core campaigning activities of Amnesty International and has proved itself, over the years, to be a very effective tool. Letters help bring about change, by alerting police, prison staff or political authorities that the world is watching. They also offer hope and encouragement to the subjects of the cases and their families.
Q6 How does letter-writing work?
We only work on cases that have been put together by Amnesty International, who have researched each case carefully and know the best way to approach it. This is to protect the victim(s) and potentially their families and friends, increase the effectiveness of our campaigns, and to help augment AI’s global standing as an influential voice. For the majority of the letters we write, we are provided with a background to the case, names and addresses and a general outline of what to say by Amnesty International, who have case officer and experts dealing with specific countries. Individuals are, of course, free to write whatever they wish, but there is plenty of help and guidelines at hand if required.
Q7 How effective is letter-writing?
AI has been having a record of real achievement worldwide - we know this because the people we have been trying to help say that our pressure has had an effect.
Q8 What campaigns do you focus on?
The Woking Group currently focuses on two core campaigns: 1. Women's Rights in Afghanistan and 2. The Zimbabwe elections. Our specific case files are the Peace Community of San Jose in Columbia and Azza Suleiman from Egypt.
Q9 How do I get elected to be ... ?
Treasurer, minutes secretary, schools liaison officer, and chair are elected positions. Group members vote for these roles at the Group’s AGM, usually, in January.
Q10 What's the role of the treasurer?
Oversees Bank Balance, issues cheques, transfers surplus money > to AI UK etc.
Q11 What's the role of the Minutes Secretary?
The Minutes Secretary writes group meeting minutes, and distributes them via email.
Q12 What's the role of the Schools Liaison Officer?
The Schools Liaison Officer is the contact point for schools, and co-ordinates the small, dedicated team of group members who go into school to give presentations and lead workshops on Human Rights issues, and AI's work.
Q13 What's the role of the chair?
The chair co-ordinates the work of the group overall and chairs meetings; keeps group files; keeps membership records; central point of contact for the group.
Q14 Are there any other jobs I can do at your local group?
Other roles, such as running a campaign, press, webpages etc. are more flexible, and if you would like to take on (or share) any of these responsibilities, let the Chair know and it can be discussed at a Group meeting.
Q15 Who do I speak to if I have a question or would like more information?
Email the Secretary, breddal[at]BTInternet.com, or speak to any of the regular members at a meeting.