Junior Gathering Summer School

Open letter to the Home Office

During Junior Gathering 2015 we met a ex-child solider who shared his moving story of how he was taken away by rebels soldiers and was forced fight and to abduct other children for 9 years before he escaped, however he was met with hostility by his government and was then put in prison and tortured for 5 years before being able to make his way to the UK.

Despite living here for 15 years he is currently still seeking asylum in the UK. His story reminded us of what we learned from Conteh, who we met last year. Conteh was also a refugee and asylum seeker who had fled from conflict. He told us about some of the difficulties and dangers that asylum seekers in the UK face and how unfortunate their situation is. We were motivated to write a letter to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking for the situation and the treatment of asylum seekers to be made more fair and humane.

The letter can be downloaded here, or read below.

28th August 2015

Dear Theresa May MP Home Secretary,

We are writing on behalf on Junior Gathering, a group of 76 young Quakers aged between 11 to 14.

We heard the very distressing story of one asylum seeker and ex-child soldier. After being kidnapped and used as a child soldier in East Africa, he was then forced to fight and abduct other children for almost a decade. After finally managing to flee this person ran to the authorities of his country, however he was then subject to imprisonment and torture for 5 years without trial until finally being released. After these 5 years, he finally made it to the United Kingdom, a place where he thought that he would be safe and treated with compassion. However, this was not the case.

This person has now been in the United Kingdom for fifteen years. His asylum status is still uncertain. It is cruel to allow someone who has gone through so much as a child soldier and has been rejected by their own government to be kept waiting so long, not knowing whether they can stay. It is saddening that not only has his own government rejected him, but he has also been neglected by ours.

Because he is not legally allowed to work, he has no way of earning more money than the little he is given by our government, What he does get he spends on essentials such as bus travel to college, where he is trying to further himself by earning his GCSEs.

He can only afford to phone his mother once a month. They have been separated for more than two decades with no communication until recently.

We demand that asylum seekers not be allowed to fall into such a situation.

Firstly, it is inhumane and undignified for someone to not be able to plan their life due to such uncertainty. Therefore the decision on asylum cases must be shortened. Fifteen years is longer than most of us have been alive.

Secondly, this case shows that many asylum seekers want to improve themselves and want to be able to contribute to our society. Therefore if a decision on asylum is yet to be made, the asylum seeker should be able to earn a living.

Thirdly, asylum seekers must be treated as more than just statistics and an inconvenience, but as the people and human-beings they really are.


In Friendship,

On behalf of Junior Gathering,

Anna-Tina & Ailwyn




Summer School

An Activist’s Playlist

An Activist Playlist

As we know, activists don’t have iPods. Their playlists are written on note paper made of pressed husks of corn. All of these songs would be favourites, but only played if a vinyl edition made of pure local beeswax could be found.




Key Quote


Blowin’ in the Wind

Bob Dylan

“How many deaths will it take till he knows /

That too many people have died?”



John Lennon

“If you want money for people with minds that hate / All I can tell is, brother, you’ll have to wait”




“They can come true”


Get Up Stand Up

Bob Marley

“Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights”


Peace Train

Cat Stevens

“Oh peace train sounding louder”


What’s Going On?

Marvin Gaye

“Picket lines and picket signs / Don’t punish me with brutality”


It’s Not Right But It’s Okay

Whitney Houston

“Pack your bags up and leave /

Don’t you dare come running back to me”




Summer School

Food Glorious Food

Dinner.  A time for chatting, eating, and often queuing. Opinions on these ‘tasty’ snacks have been mixed. From the torture of the morning omelettes that oozed with milk to the joy of the potato wedges which blossomed with spices and most importantly salt. Yes, they were very good wedges.

The puddings have also been varied. From gungy crumble to the soft, sugar coated cake, which tempted people to return for seconds… and in some cases, even more. The watermelon was refreshing, until two days later, base group eight found the rinds in a corner on the floor. Those guilty have yet to forward.

Now vegetarianism is popular among Summer school attenders. And while the kitchen staff always provide an alternative option, which has gone down well, vegan food is scarce. Perhaps they can drink the water… but is this enough?

Finally, we would like to commend the serving staff on providing exact portions to the requirements of the participants. Michael claims that someone even asked for exactly seven peas, and the staff dutifully counted them out without raising an eyebrow at this dubious request. But then again, this is Summer School.