what happened last week that made you think about your faith and organizing so last week I was on a public narrative training which was led by LCN leading change network it was really interesting because it was looking at you know the story of of self of us and of now and a big part of that was working out how to tell my own story and there was a coaching moment where there was a one-to-one and one of the questions that was asked is how are you here now why are you wanting to be an organizer for climate Justice I guess I really struggled to answer this question so I’ve been reflecting back on the moments in my past that have led me to this point to be sat here having this conversation and for me that started when I was in school I wasn’t the most well-behaved people I can believe that yeah there’s very many of us know right and one of the things that I had was I was quite smart so I knew how to kind of use my wit you know when I was talking in class the teacher would then put me on the spot and say well do you know the answer and I’d always have the remark back I knew how to wind people up and I was struggling with my own emotions and and regulating that and I was at the point of exclusion I was about to get you kicked out of school but I think the school recognized that I did have a lot of passion and a lot of drive and that’s one of the things that was getting me into trouble was the way that I was speaking and always had something to say and my religious studies teacher Mrs Torino wow she just provided me an alternative path right it was at the point that I was getting into trouble all the time it was that or would you like to kind of start a new network in fact at this point it was just a case of can you be the ambassador for human rights for the school and this role was a brand new role that I was given the only Purpose with that role was to make an assembly and explain what human rights was did you say yes to the role I I said yes to the role yeah I was too naughty you know for them to let me be a prefect or anything like that um so they had to create something else for me right otherwise I would have carried on making noise in bad ways I find that like a very interesting way of phrasing it because it’s like I think in many ways when we make noise when we are allowed when we do campaigning right it’s it’s demonized it’s it’s like seen as a small wrong and I think I don’t know like that opens a really interesting question I guess around where our voices are coming from and why we’re reacting in such a way in the context that we live in and you know I mean like actually asking okay why what makes that bad what makes a disruptive in fact isn’t it necessarily disruptive I hate the classroom I think like upon reflection that was a waste of so much of my life and I’m still really angry so if anything I think that’s such a valid and important and really like useful starting point for a criticism of what it is that you’re supposedly disrupting I think that that’s certainly how I felt at the time that you know I wasn’t that bothered by school and I was very disruptive and it was only at the point that another classmate said to me and this was a friend and they said to me you do realize that some of us actually have to listen it took a minute to sink in and they shared with me that they were really struggling in that class and every time that I was acting like the class cloud and being quite silly and disruptive their learning was being held back and actually this was at the same point of time that I was given this role as human rights Ambassador and that in itself is starting to think about what other people’s rights mean that person in my class had a right to education and I was disrupting it so then you start thinking about this wider kind of network of well okay what was what does justice mean in our context and in The Wider content what does it mean to stand up for human rights in stoke-on’s rent what are the issues that are important for us in our community but also where do we connect to wider communities we were a Catholic school so we were part of the Edmund rice network of schools Edwin rice was from the 18th century as a Catholic missionary missed out schools for poor boys who couldn’t access education and those schools are still about today there’s hundreds of them all across the world and a brother in India had reached out to our school and explained what he was setting up it was a campaign called Nine is mine this campaign was trying to Lobby the Indian government and nine percent of the gdpr on children’s health education and well-being and nine percent that’s not a great deal and that’s quite a lot of things to cover it was quite shocking to us that that wasn’t being spent towards children I just got this role I was really motivated by this communication from Steve really wanted to help him and his campaign so I took it into the school and it started off with letter writing you know we were going to write some colorful letters saying why we thought it was such an important thing to do and I realized that was stuck because I had this idea about how was I gonna make it happen throughout the school so at that point I knew I needed somebody else so it went from being a role that I had to being a shared role that had kind of somebody else with me and then in conversations we were like well this isn’t enough we’re both in kind of sixth form at this point we were 17. we were like wouldn’t it be great if we could get somebody from each of the years to get involved in this campaign so we opened it up and it became a whole network in our school and there was somebody from each year group that was representing it and that’s how we got everybody to do letter writing the year group ambassadors had to go back to their year group get loads of letters we collected these and managed to therefore send hundreds of letters as part of this campaign and the more people that joined the more creative the ideas got for how we could raise awareness in this so there was one amazing moment where we gathered everyone outside we made a shape of a nine in the playground and took a top-down photo and included that so that they could see how many people were involved in writing this and that went alongside with long story short that attached with all of the other Edmond rice schools getting involved and reaching out globally the campaign was successful I’m sure there was lots more behind it but as that was my entry level into kind of organizing and that’s what opened my eyes to how people getting together and speaking up about something that they’re upset about can make change happen that’s so interesting and one of the things that made me think of one particular electoral campaign just as a side note is the idea of like giving a job title and like how that is received by a person and what they then do with it because there’s a title involved and it’s just something that was done in the Obama campaign that’s kind of sat with me a bit is there a bit of like shared power in giving a title or is it disempowering because actually how much power do you really have is it an illusion of power to get a job title in the organizing context sorry it’s a little bit of a side note but it’s just when you said Ambassador and ambassadors for each year that’s what kind of came to mind I think the title helped me at the time because I was still finding my own motivations for why I was doing the work so like I said I was kind of 16 17 when this role came I think I got it in my final year of school and then took it into the sixth form carried on being this role and there were selfish motivations I was applying to universities so I needed something that would look good on my University application and that is genuinely only one of those reasons that did pull me to that role at that point but doing the role and meeting with people then realized it was much more deeper to that and I did want to share that role out which is why there was then the kind of network of people and it felt much stronger I think I said to yesterday so I was quite excited to learn that this network still exists so it’s still going on and there’s still ambassadors from across all of these different schools that’s really beautiful did you get to do anything with the role after the campaign yeah so Emma rice as a network of schools also has an NGO based in Geneva and I knew that Geneva was a place that’d be really interesting in visiting the United Nations kind of Human Rights Center oh because of the um yeah because of the UN I at that point I was contemplating being a lawyer as well there was definitely a part of me that was like okay this would be a cool cool job to go down human rights law or policy maker or those were the kind of jobs that I was pushed to as a child I was always told to be ambitious and that was brainy and that those were the sorts of jobs that I should be doing so yeah I knew about the network in in Geneva and we wanted to take the role there so that young people who were doing the human rights learning and training and being an ambassador could connect it to something that happens in The Wider world like how do we make decisions as you know a United Nations Network that affect human rights and we did I got to go to a UPR which is a universal periodic review and a country who’s put up for a UPR every five years or so and at that point it was amazing seeing all of the different speakers and putting the headphones on and they get translated into all the different languages it was so exciting but over the course of spending a week there and hearing countries like Israel Israel was one of the truths that was there doing their UPR and hearing what countries were saying back and forth to one another it felt so performative it felt so abstract and so detached from the people that I was meeting while we were learning about human it was British Air who was based in Salford and he had the Salford Center for refugees and Asylum Seekers and this was the first time I’d ever met somebody who was an asylum Seeker because of this role and having conversations with somebody who traveled for 18 hours in a refrigerator no idea where they were going at all pregnant completely scared to be met in the UK to kind of this the accusation that they chose to come to the UK for a better life when that just simply wasn’t the case they had no idea where they were going the stuff that was happening in the U.N felt so far detached from those conversations that I was having that I knew in that moment that that was not going to be the job that I actually wanted and I needed to be connected to people yeah that’s a real light bulb moment isn’t it when you kind of see that Chasm between those elected representative spaces the parliaments the kind of U.N the kind of EU spaces that are supposed to be where democracy sits and seeing and experiencing first hand that there is such a huge gap between that and what’s happening in real life and how it impacts people every day do you think that was like the moment that you thought okay I think I’m going to be an organizer or did it take a bit longer yeah it took a bit longer than that so we’re having come up through this very Christian upbringing and I strayed from my faith multiple times but it was such a strong thread that I went off to do some work with tier fund which was very much Mission work and also with the brothers in India I thought that that was perhaps a route that through Christian Mission and overseas work helping people who seemed more in need I had this whole Narrative of like right we’re really privileged here and having done the campaign with Brothers Steve and learning about how little was spent on education for children in India I thought that that was what I needed to go and do and perhaps there was some white guilt in there of this Narrative of heading over to another country and feeling like that’s where I could help and in doing that work I realized I was very far away from any City situation that I could be meaningfully helpful I didn’t know the language that these people so I didn’t know the cultural background that they were in I didn’t have little more than a high school education so what was I going to do and I had this kind of big dream of chaos and they were colliding the dream that I had for my life and over time is when I started to realize okay stoke’s got enough problems of its own too and that’s where I’m from and I speak their language I also speak their dialects and slangs and and everything in between it took time to know that organizing was what I wanted to do really did and where does that leave your faith how would you describe your faith and how it relates to the work that you do now having come through and become politically aware through the kind of World Mission work really which can be quite patriarchal and from colonizers and very much exclusionary as well there’s no room for other Faith systems or beliefs in a traditional Christian faith Christianity for me is a rock it’s a teaching it’s the story of Christ I find really inspiring the fact that one person when why are we following the lawmakers why are we not based in situational approaches why are we not meeting with people and principally fundamentally is love one another that is the guiding rule right and that’s the message that I take with me forward every day it’s finding that teaching underneath Jesus was an organizer yeah a great organizer as well I mean look how many people he gathered and the people that followed him immediately after were also that they gathered people with food with love supported women with what they needed gave people leadership roles passed on a network and look at where we are today so there’s principles in it that keep me grounded and knowing that there’s something beyond the here and now I think everyone can find that though right my personal experiences is Christianity there’s this term John Hicks model of pluralism which is there’s a big elephant right and we’re all grasping at the elephant but we’ve got different bits so I’ve got the tail it’s a bit bushy but you might have the trunk when that’s a bit more leathery but we’re all reaching for the same thing which is a better world a better future a different path so that’s how I understand my faith we can all find something that we believe in to get us through so I guess there’s like some tensions within coming from a specific Faith being Christian how do you envision creating Interfaith spaces in organizing how does that guide you is it important I think it’s incredibly important to make interface spaces my faith doesn’t necessarily present itself externally people don’t necessarily know what faith I have I don’t walk around and say I’m a Christian I had no idea until today yeah I remember you telling me in the car about your relationship how it kind of comes in waves and I think you phrased it really beautifully then and I think it would be nice to hear that once again yeah I mean it does come in ways I understand God in a very pluralistic sentence I could be stood on the top of a mountain right and you feel the wind hit the back and your spine starts to tremble or it’s when I’m stood in a crowd full of people and you can see the sense of community and the love that each person shares the same feeling on the back of my neck starts to happen and that for me has always been interpreted as when God is closest to me and those moments are I find my faith next to me I don’t know if I’m making much sense but that’s the thing right Faith isn’t one of those things that necessarily makes like the super logical sense it’s very innomotive internal feeling and I think it’s something that I feel not in relation to religion but in relation to some form of spirituality I think it can manifest in really beautiful ways there’s an element of all of us where our idiosyncrasies are able to be expressed as well and where we’re able to recognize that we’re not just like robots following a super logical path and Rhythm as much as I try to perhaps do that sometimes so yeah it’s okay if it’s not coherent right yeah it’s okay and in a way it’s important as well because it gives you space to kind of push back against it I think I was brought up Catholic you wouldn’t see it in me at all other than I really like frankincense I burned frankincense in my house but other than that I’ve pretty much rejected anything I was taught although I’m quite proud that my confirmation name is Michael because I wanted an archangel not the same I pick and choose a little bit of the bits that I want to like talk about but generally like it’s not that important to me but in terms of organizing the ritual is something that’s been important to me as I’ve grown as an organizer do you feel that there’s anything in your faith or in Christianity as a whole or perhaps in your experience of doing the work that you’ve done have something we can learn from in our organizing absolutely lately and just to pick up on a couple of things that you were saying there though as well that feeling of disconnection from that faithful upbringing I was also raised Catholic and spent some time in Mission then when I got to University I tried so hard to detach from it because I was stepped into the very leftist circles where religion had become such an exclusionary thing that it wasn’t safe to do so and it’s only in the past few years that I rediscovered my faith and my connection and how I do that essentially religions a lot of them are storytelling it’s the tales that have been passed on it’s learning how to tell the stories of then and Link it to another future and finding confidence in that voice that guides us and goes with us and trusting in that and it was through rediscovery in my relationship with God that I was able to start writing poetry that’s now a huge part of me and that’s a huge part of my organizing as well in the sense of the circles that I’m in my organizing in Stoke today has been kind of artist-based and connecting those circles so to ReDiscover my creativity and to trust in the voice that I hear with me and I’m excited to see where some of this kind of Storytelling and poetry and faith-based confidence with that voice will take me something you said has really resonated with me because it’s actually something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently it’s this conversation about church and state we have a tradition here where those things are separated and particularly in like political circles generally speaking no one really brings their faith into it but I was brought up in very different political circles not necessarily ones in England there were more kind of solidarity campaigns with global South countries particularly the ones that my parents were running faith and organizing church and state were not things that required us as political beings to be separate but that was definitely my experience of political life in the UK do you think it’s important that we start maybe creating opportunities for Faith and organizing of faith and politics to start reintegrating and dancing with each other again oh absolutely and I guess one of the reasons why it’s so hard to have allowed them to be in the same spaces because of how exclusionary they’re seen as as soon as you say that you’re a Christian are you then excluding a Muslim audience atheist audience or many of the other religions that are represented in our communities I think it’s remembering that it’s in the differences that we really flourish and we create something new it’s in learning how to communicate with one another Beyond this with regards to that relationship between church and state like I think something we’ve got to remember as well with spirituality and religion is like such a personal thing it’s such a communal thing existing on that local level and that Community level like I think that’s something I certainly love and wish that I had more of and that’s something that people are able to access and that’s how we’re able to find spaces to just exist right to just be in communion with one another and that’s something that I loved was just sharing that with my grandma like going with her and being present with her and it’s just such a beautiful thing and I think that’s where I feel it’s so important to remind ourselves it’s at this local level it’s at this community level that’s the whole point that I think is where it has a super direct obvious link to the organizing we do because it’s been this vital aspect of human connection and it’s okay to have that in other formats but I think it’s a wonderful Avenue and and way of linking people that we shouldn’t just be dismissing completely because at the heart of it we’re not trying to exclude people who are trying to work with people we’re trying to meet people where they’re at and if where they’re at is with God then that’s where they’re and we can still actively creating whatever it is we want to create I wonder if I could just end on a poem I’ve got lots of very explicitly Christian poetry but most of the work that I ever do publicly is not but I think maybe if you hear it you might hear some of those themes in there so this one’s called times of change it was originally part of a rap but we can do it spoken word as well times of change strange to the eyes the doors may be closed but with social ties we can mobilize in the local rise and they plug the Gap where hunger lies in times of change our brains are freezed home to work get no release I thank Earth for air fresh to breathe in it’s nice to care but it’s blessed to feel it so in times of change what will it be today we say Let It Be Peace and respect all whoever we are because one step together goes far so in times of change do not ignore the borders detained unlock that door the world’s unjust but there’s one simple cure put down hate and love once more wonderful well that’s come to a really beautiful end thank you no problem this has been campfire stories brought to you by Breathe check our socials where you can hear directly from our community organizers who are doing the work don’t forget to like share and subscribe to our Channel and keep up to date with our future episodes

Finding Faith

Episode 7 | Finding Faith Joining us in this discussion is Georgia Kilment-Temple, Breathe’s Lead Stoke Organiser who shares her personal journey of how her faith has shaped her involvement in community organising. We’ll delve into how faith-based organisations and communities can play a significant role in promoting social justice and collective action. Georgia will share her experiences working with such groups and the ways in which they have contributed to community organising efforts. So, tune in for this insightful conversation as we explore the relationship between faith and community organising. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to our channel for more thought-provoking discussions. #findingfath #faith #collectiveaction #socialjustice #podcast #community #communityorganising #organising #cs #campfirestories #breathe #breathebuilds #sou #thestoryofus