Thank you to Lizzie Baker from Norwich Group who took time out to answer some of our intereview questions!! AWESOME!
Q: Can you tell us, what inspired you to start a SPEAK Group?
A: When I was at university I was part of an existing SPEAK group. Once I was no longer a student I was still in touch with SPEAK and some people who had been in university SPEAK groups. We were all in Norwich and my friend was told about a new student who was interested in SPEAK. The same day she told me about her we realised that she was a member of our church! Then we had four of us, keen to do something, so we had a meeting in my house. That was five years ago!
Q: What are / were your aims and expectations of the group?
A: We feel our role is to educate ourselves and others about current justice campaigns. We then try to act on these campaigns, often by lobbying our MPs. Our target audience is the larger church and therefore our aim is to ensure that our local churches are taking action on justice issues.
Q: Do you feel that you achieved these?
A: Many of our group attend the same church, and I do feel we have made an impact there. We are recognised as part of the church and take part in services and run prayer evenings. We often have a great response. Now we are looking to widen our impact in Norwich and the surrounding area.
Q: What is it like to be in a SPEAK Group?
A: SPEAK for me is all about community. You could me an activist on your own, but it is so much more enjoyable and motivating to be part of a group. I have over the years also made some really good friends through SPEAK. I once came up with a plan for SPEAK meetings of "PEA" - pray, educate, act (very cheesy!) That is what we do as a SPEAK group.
Q: What is the craziest thing that has happened at a SPEAK event or within your SPEAK Group?
A: Umm... I have funny stories from over the years, and have heard some good stories from old SPEAKies, but for me I think it was the following: some of us were dressed in sack cloth, sharing out communion, in the Big Dress, in Berkeley Square, London. Best communion ever (there was far too much bread and wine!).
Q: Any other inspirational stories you would like to share?
A: I always find it inspiring to see where former SPEAKies are now, and the amazing work they are doing. Being part of SPEAK is life-changing: either in day to day life or in a bigger way!
Q: If people want to join your SPEAK Group, how can they find you / do that / what is expected of them?
A: Initially people can just "like" our Facebook page, just to see what we get up to and if they want to become more involved we meet monthly, on the first Monday of each month. There is no expectation of them - you can do as little or as much as you can/want! For example one member of our group no longer comes to meetings but keeps in touch via Facebook and email.
Q: Final words?
Sometimes it is easier to let the daily grind get you down - particularly once you have left university and have to work to make ends meet, not necessarily in a job you like. Coming together and exploring issues of justice and taking them on as a community is a great antidote and you never know, we might actually make the world a little bit of a better place...