In July, Anna and Phil attended the National Justice and Peace Network's annual conference, held in Swanwick. This year's theme was 'Justice at Work – A place of safety, fulfilment and growth?' a theme very relevant to the current YCW campaign 'Young People Stand up for Dignity'.
The weekend was a possibility for organisations involved in Justice and Peace to come together and explore issues that are relevant to their work, as well as socialise and share communion together. During the weekend, there was the opportunity for organisations to have a stall where they could present their work, show the resources that they use and exchange ideas about how to further justice and peace in the Church.
The conference was chaired by Maria Elena Arana from CAFOD and began with a talk from David McLoughlin, a theologian, discussing the social conditions of the people in Palestine in the time of Christ and the way Jesus challenged these conditions through his teaching.
Jon Cruddas MP gave a reflection on the dignity of work in today's society and how aspirations about work have changed. Francis O'Grady, the Deputy General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress talked about the significance of trade unions, and how they strive for justice and peace at work in society.
Phil Callaghan, our National President, gave a powerful testimony about the challenges young workers face in work and stepping onto the employment ladder during this time of recession. Sheila Kambobe, Deputy Director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, spoke to the conference about the plight of migrant workers and small businesses in a free market in Zambia; an issue very relevant to their reality of work.
Throughout the weekend, Jon Battle gave thought provoking reflections on the conference's theme, helping develop thoughts and conversation further.
On the Saturday, there was opportunity to attend a huge variety of workshops on topics such as fair pay, rights at work, conflict resolution in the workplace and work life balance. The workshops gave opportunity to investigate particular topics in more detail and discuss plans to take them forward and turn into action.
The weekend was a great success and a positive experience for all who attended. There was great emphasis on the need to continue the discussions that were started on justice in the workplace, and ensure that the church – as a voice – is heard in society.