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Vigil for Equality: Saturday 3 October 2015

posted 5 Oct 2015, 09:02 by Peter Hughes   [ updated 25 Oct 2015, 08:57 ]
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On Saturday 3 October 2015, Canterbury Quakers held its second silent vigil in support of economic equality, this time as part of a day of action in support of equality, homeless people and refugees. Organised to take place during Quaker Week 2015, although sadly not badged as a Quaker Week event, the vigil was one of many public events held by Quakers throughout the UK to highlight social inequality.

There were eighteen Friends (sixteen from Canterbury and two from Folkestone) in attendance for all or part of the hour-long vigil. We had hoped that we would be joined by people from other churches, but sadly no-one arrived. We used posters supplied by Friends House as placards. The decorative Quakers for Peace banner (made by Janet Cook) served to emphasise our Quaker identity.

Our presence attracted some attention from shoppers and passers-by. One person came to stand with us for a while, and expressed an interest in attending a Quaker Meeting for Worship.

After a week of intensely bright weather, it was disappointing that Saturday should be draped with low cloud. However, it stayed dry and there was little wind: for October, the weather could have been considerably more autumnal.

The vigil was, once again, held at a central location in Canterbury city centre: at the junction between the High Street and Guildhall Street (Debenhams Corner). In contrast to the vigil that took place in March 2015, the police took no notice of us on this occasion. Neither was there a requirement to alert the City Council that the event would be taking place. The Salvation Army marching band often occupies the junction on a Sunday morning. Instead our vigil was 'serenaded' throughout by a busker playing an electronically-amplified cello. Although not ideal for a silent vigil, his choice of music was distinctly to be preferred over the jaunty piano accordion music being blasted out further along the high street.

At an earlier stage of planning it had been hoped that a street collection could be made in support of Catching Lives, the local charity that supports homeless people. However, the City Council regulations regarding street collections are discouragingly burdensome for a one-off event. David Clarke had negotiated in advance with the manager of Costa Coffee about the potential use of their outdoor chairs for some of the physically less-robust vigilers. The duty manager was also informed on the day regarding what was about to take place, and he was very pleasant and relaxed about the event.

After the vigil, we retired to the Quaker Meeting House for hot drinks and hot soup made by Catherine Kemp. It was generally agreed that the vigil had been a success. We contemplated the next part of our day of action.