Mins of NE Planning Group
Amnesty International in Yorkshire and the North East
Regional Planning Group
Report on meeting held on 27 January 2018 in York
Present: Rod Heath (Chair and Regional Rep), Cecile Oxaal (Hull), Alex Jagger (Sheffield), Bob Miller (Wearside), Alan Curtis (Barnsley) and Peter Sagar.
Apologies were received from Steve Newman (Wearside), Mike Gordon (Scarborough) and David Yarnell (North Lincs)
1 Introductory remarks
Rod thanked everybody for giving up their Saturday to come to this meeting and gave a special welcome to Bob Miller, who had not attended before.
He outlined that the purpose of the Meeting was to define what should happen at a Regional level in the coming year and what the Regional Rep (Rod) should be doing.
2 The Minutes of the previous meeting were approved and there were no matters arising
3 Brief Review of 2017
Rod said that two Regional Conferences were held (as nothing happened in 2016) - in Sheffield and Newcastle. The first was perhaps a little too AIUK - heavy but both attracted a good attendance of between 40 and 50, including, notably, quite a number of national members who were not members of local groups. Due thanks were paid to the main organisers - the Amnesty Group at Sheffield University and Richard Kotter of the Newcastle Group.
Rod also reported on the synchronised photographic campaign which took place in Refugee Week and in which 12 local groups took part. This was the brainchild of Alex Jagger whose idea was for local groups to hold up placards drawing attention to the plight of refugees in an iconic location in their town or city and the for this to be photographed. The power of this action in the main derived from it taking place on the same day at the same time (as it happened, 12 noon on Sat 24 June) so it was possible to say that "Amnesty International in Yorkshire and the NE expressed the need to welcome refugees to the UK on Saturday". Rod received excellent support from Laurie Hanna in the AIUK Media Office and said that he thought the campaign had considerable impact. Several groups had article and/or photographs published in the local press while an excellent photo-collage was produced in London, a framed copy of which Rod is to take the Amnesty bookshop in York
4 Regional Action for 2018
It was universally agreed that local groups should come together to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption by the UN of the UDHR in 1948.
It was suggested this should take place on 10th December, Human Rights Day (which this year falls on a Monday).
It was suggested that there should be a candlelit vigil accompanying a reading of some or all of the provisions of the UDHR.
There should also be a significant advertisement in the local press drawing attention the anniversary and its celebration. (Rod is to make enquiries at AIUK regarding financial and other help for this.)
It would also be an apposite time to work with schools (although the best timemto make contact might well be May or June.)
The second major anniversary this year is the widening of both men's and especially women's suffrage in 1918.
These are the dates:
6 February 1918: The Representation of the People Act of 1918 enfranchised women over the age of 30 who were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register. About 8.4 million women gained the vote (as did 5.6 million men).
21 November 1918: the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into Parliament.
Both Acts took effect in the General Election held on 14 Dec 1918.
Local groups could therefore take an action in Nov 2018 to draw attention to the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act and, at the same time, publicise the forthcoming vigil on the UDHR.
Rod will enquire about having some placards made in London for both events eg
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Dec 1918 and
Votes for Women and Women MP's 1918
5 Regional Conference at the Friends' Meeting House in Scarborough on 9 Jun
See attached sheet.
6 The "Australian" model
Rod tried to explain the Australian model, which he heard about from Amanda Atlee, who works for Amnesty Australia.
Their view is that not all the activities that Amnesty members and supporters would like to take part in can be organised by a local group, which typically numbers about 12. Indeed, the 12 probably preclude certain activities from taking place because they can't do it all themselves. In New South Wales, for example, Amnesty run book and film clubs.
As Cecile said, however, it is important that all events have an Amnesty theme as it is an Amnesty event after all.
(See attached note)
7 Peter Sagar
Peter is keen to work on maintaining strong trade union links and to continue doing work on the Roma and to keep a record of the Human Rights heritage in Yorkshire and the NE.
8 Any other business
(I believe this an elision of Charity Muggers. These are people, in this case employed by an agency engaged by AIUK, who appear in towns and cities where they seek to sign people up to donate via a Direct Debit. There have been numerous occasions when "chuggers" have appeared unbeknown to local groups and have known nothing about the local group. The Hull local group even wondered if the "chuggers" they came across were simply engaged in fraudulent activity.)
Cecile and Alan both reported that chuggers had suddenly appeared and they had no information on how local groups could be contacted. Rod is to take this up with Farshid.
b Alan suggested that the AIUK website may be becoming too political.
It is a difficult line to draw.
No date or time was set for the next meeting but this can be done at some point in the future.