I, Daniel Blake

“The present system is one of conscious cruelty. It bears down on those least able to bear it. The bureaucratic inefficiency is vindictive and hunger is being used as a weapon. People are being forced to look for work that doesn’t exist.” – Ken Loach has won the Palm Dor at Canne for his film on the UK benefit system, “I, Daniel Blake”.
 
 
…but then the system is really, really, stupid
 
…you can find out more and join the UNITE community campaign
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group meeting
Wednesday 1st June, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
Discussing the impact of income inequality, and talking about a potential new initiative for tackling inequality within Sheffield. But mainly playing (and developing) games! Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Picket of M&S on Fargate in support of the Pennine Foods strike
Wednesday 25th May, 5pm-6pm, Marks and Spencer, Sheffield Fargate
Workers at one of M&S’s major suppliers Pennine Food are getting a raw deal. Billionaire Ranjit Singh is taking thousands of pounds off the workers at Pennine Food, Some workers are set to loose up to £6000 a year. Please join this picket of M&S to protest at the policy of their supplier.
 
Peace in the Park
Saturday 11th June, 12 midday to 8pm, Ponderosa Park, Sheffield
Peace in the Park intends to make a stand for peace in 2016, to encourage a better, more equal world and to demonstrate the power of communities.
 
 equalityBoard
Would you like to play a game? Wednesday 1st June at the Quaker Meeting House
 
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CATS!
 
Citizens Advertising Takeover Service

Wouldn’t it be great not to worry about the holiday we can’t afford, the car we don’t need, or the body we don’t have? Imagine a world where public spaces made you feel pawsitive. A kickstarter campaign has gained funding to fill a tube-station with, erm, pictures of cats.
 

Picking sides in a classless society

“Eventually I learned that most people do have to pick a side, even if they do it unconsciously. I didn’t decide pragmatically to become middle-class in order to access social esteem and higher wages. It happened that way because I happened to stay on at school. There is a sense in which you buy, or are sold, a one-way ticket. You can go back, but never again on the same terms.” – Lynsey Hanley on her experience of social mobility http://bit.ly/1QftBMe (The Guardian).
 
Her excellent book, Respectable, was also book of the week on Radio 4 (iPlayer)
 
“Now ‘I have made it’, I am not supposed to react angrily to it, I am supposed to know my place, and be grateful for getting out. However, I am angry and so are other working-class people when we have to deal with and hear these simplistic and stigmatising views of our lives. I have written about how working class life is misunderstood, and reduced to simplistic one-dimensional narratives from both the prurient poverty porn, but also the middle class do-gooders. We are not expected to attempt to defend our choices, become angry, or resist.” – Lisa McKensie on the need to ‘make it’ (The Guardian)
 
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Forthcoming
 
Wednesday 18th May, 7pm-9pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. This event will explore how income inequality impacts upon society and human relationships to create the issues covered in the The Divide Documentary, and the featured campaigns to tackle income inequality. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Tuesday 17th May, 6.30–9.00pm Quaker Meeting House, St. James’ Street, S1 2EW.
How do we make the leap? Come and hear from a panel of insightful and provocative speakers about the connections between equity, economy and climate change – and join our debate. Speakers include Shahida Siddique (CEO of Faithstar), Sarah-Jayne Clifton (Jubilee Debt Campaign), and Philip Pearson (a trade unionist campaigning for Just Transition). Hosted by Sheffield Climate Alliance.
 
What is wrong with money, and how can we fix it?
Monday 23 May, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, St. James St. S1 2EW
This public talk brings together speakers from three different Sheffield groups, all campaigning in different ways for economic justice. Peter Verity (Sheffield Positive Money group), Louis Read of the “Sheffield Pound”, and Rob Shearing (Sheffield Money) will explain their ideas and actions around monetary reform, local currency, and financial inclusion. Hosted by Sheffield Positive Money. Free entry, but donations requested (suggested £3) to cover costs.
 
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Are we the fairest city of them all?
 
“Led by the city council, several large employers have introduced a higher living wage based on calculations by the Living Wage Foundation, and the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has also encouraged small and medium-sized organisations to do so. Another recommendation, on fair access to credit, resulted in the creation of Sheffield Money, to compete with the unscrupulous and usurious payday lenders. More recently, a fair employer charter was introduced, designed to ensure fair conditions of work as well as pay.” – the impact of the Sheffield Fairness Commission and the Our Fair City campaign covered by The Conversation.

A sanction for those in need…

so she said “I’m going to initial it this time, but next time, put a bit more information in,” and then she just went “is this about this teaching from home thing,” and I had flu last Wednesday and I just did not have the energy to say, “Well, I’m waiting for this poxy boiler to be done and the place has to be sorted out and decorated and it’s all being replaced,” and I just didn’t have the energy to say….
Well, they’re sending off the hardship loan now. I’ve got to go back Thursday to get some food vouchers. I’m going to the hospital and they are all going to hear about this.
 
– Kate Belgrave records experiences of benefit sanctions
 
Paul was sanctioned in the first instance after his job centre advisor felt he had not completed his log book correctly.His second sanction was handed out to him as a result of being 10 minutes late to a meeting at the job centre, something he said was the result of a bus delay.
 
The third and final sanction, that resulted in the three-year cap on his benefits, came about after Paul was made to wait for an hour in the job centre to meet an advisor.
 
He complained about this delay, which staff at the centre felt was aggressive, and his unemployment benefits were capped until 2018.
 
– The Dundee Courier reports on a three year sanction forcing Paul to destitution
 
1,252,000 people, including 312,000 children, were destitute at some point in 2015
 
People who had experienced destitution said that they felt ‘demeaned, ‘degraded’ and ‘humiliated’ by having to get family, friends or charities to provide basics like food and toiletries. Destitute parents often went without things themselves so that they could provide more for their children. Many felt that destitution had a negative impact on their relationships with their children and with other family and friends, leading to social isolation. Destitution took a toll on many people’s mental health, and some reported physical health problems.
 
In 2015, destitute people reported problems with getting behind on bills (57%), serious debt (33%), benefit delays (40%) or sanctions (30%)
 
 

…to sanction those in greed

 
The story of BHS’s bankruptcy is one of theft and asset-stripping on a massive scale. Green took £580m+ out then sold the company for £1. The next owner, twice bankrupt Dominic Chappell, has taken millions more. Green underfunded the pension scheme – while paying his wife £400 million in BHS dividends, all channeled through a tax haven. Now the ship is sinking, while Green takes delivery of his new £100 million superyacht. Please sign the petition on 38 Degrees
 
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Forthcoming
Wednesday 18th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome.
 
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Why We Need Economic Justice for Climate Justice…
How do we make the leap? Come and hear from provocative speakers, including Sarah-Jayne Clifton from Jubilee Debt Campaign, about the connections between equity, economy and climate change – and join our debate about making the big changes needed. In association with Sheffield Climate Alliance.
 
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The Peckham Experiment

Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residents could organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together.
 
On Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House, there will be a talk by former GP Jack Czauderna – member of the Pioneer Health Foundation – on the Peckham Experiment, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group. All welcome.
 
For more information on the Peckham Experiment, see The Pioneer Health Foundation – “A recent meeting of those whose lives have been influenced by Peckham showed that its legacy is alive and that the belief in human potential, humane systems and human scale development has a powerful resonance today.”
 peckham2
 
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Home from Home
“The number of people sleeping rough in England on any one night has doubled since 2010 and increased by 30% in the last year, with an estimated 3,569 people now sleeping on the streets across England, according to new government figures.” – Guardian report on rise in homelessness
 
“In the bins you can hide so nobody can see you. It’s kind of warm, nobody knows you are there,” George explains on the streets of Bristol. He has been homeless since he lost his engineering job before Christmas, leaving him unable to pay the rent. (BBC)
 
In this special edition of Exploitation, Exploitation, Exploitation, presenters Christie and Will get their hands dirty as they take would-be tenants Gilly and Steve on a search for their dream home – or at least, an apartment where they don’t suspect a murder has taken place (Guardian)

Disabling Austerity

People who are disabled were already coping with large losses of support under austerity before the latest cuts to support. People with the severest disabilities (2% of the population) were already bearing around 15% of cuts
(Centre for Welfare Reform). Austerity is disabling us.
 
“The phantom benefit cheat is the perfect patsy for austerity. If there are hordes of disabled, mentally ill, or unemployed people who are draining the public purse, there is justification for sweeping cuts to social security. It doesn’t actually matter if this horde is lying to claim benefits or not” – Frances Ryan on how the shrinking of the welfare state is being spun (Guardian)
 
Swiftly passing the threshold for debate by parliament, a petition asking Government to reverse the cuts to disability support
 
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Forthcoming
 
The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
 
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residentscould organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
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The Divide Documentary
Wednesday 4th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Documentary inspired by the critically-acclaimed, bestselling book “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. https://www.facebook.com/events/588046788021095/
 
What happens when the rich get richer?
Wednesday 18th May 7pm-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Discussing the impact of income inequality and the campaigns trying to tackle it. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group, all welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/544693055703055/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
 
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate http://www.festivalofdebate.com/
 
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“Principle 5” general meeting
Tuesday 22nd March, 7pm, The Harlequin, 108 Nursery St. S3 8GG
The general meeting of “Principle 5” the Yorkshire Co-operative Resource Centre which provides study sessions, education and training on the development of co-operatives. Newcomers and volunteers most welcome.
 
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Achieving Our Potential
 
We’re all in this together – aren’t we? Excellent film from DPAC on the loss of the Independent Living Fund.

It’s a plot!

council-deprivation
 
If you work how much Councils have had their budgets cut by, and plot that against how much deprivation they are in, you find a strong link. The more deprived the area, the more the Council has its budget cut. It’s not a surprise – many extra grants to help those most in need have been cut – but it’s a signal of how the burden of austerity hits the worse off most.
 
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Forthcoming
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 2nd March, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
This month we’ve got more practicing of our equality games – prompting discussion and reflection on inequality. Also this month – what is a job worth? All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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The Peckham Experiment
Wednesday 6th April, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Between 1926 and 1950 the Peckham Experiment was a pioneering medical initiative that stimulated a revolution in the ideas of community health. A community health centre was opened where residents could organise sporting, social and cultural activities. It had the aim of promoting the health of individuals, families, and the community together. Talk by former GP Jack Czauderna, followed by discussion. Hosted by Sheffield Equality Group.
 
 peckham2
 
For more on the Peckham Experiment see http://thephf.org/
 
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Banking on Land Vs. Prosperity
Monday 21st March, 7:30-9pm, Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Exploring a remedy to systemic prosperity problems through film animations and a new game, this workshop will give you a helpful grounding in all things Land Value Tax and explore its helpful banking system with positive prosperity cycles.
 
Part of the Festival of Debate
 
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Aspiration
 
“We can’t keep pretending that our taxes and benefits system is fair when the rich are given all the ladders and the poor all the snakes.  The system doesn’t help the ‘aspirational’ hard-working families we often hear politicians talk about. If anything it’s an Aspiration Tax.” – http://bit.ly/1RqaQcC (Equality Trust)
 
“Who doesn’t want to believe they have risen to success because of their own innate ability, talent or drive? To believe there are potentially more talented journalists, politicians, actors and judges from Manchester’s terrace houses and Glasgow’s housing schemes: well, it’s a recipe for insecurity. Better to comfort yourself with the belief that inequality is really just deserts.” – Owen Jones sets out how inequality selects whose aspirations become reality (The Guardian)
 
“The boys were attracted to a middling position – neither failing or succeeding – and being thought of as ‘ordinary’ by their peers. Yet their schools often promoted an idea of aspiration that was competitive and self-serving.” – the egalitarian aspiration of working class white schoolboys (Garth Stahl, The Guardian)

The wealth of sharing

Illuminating New Economics Foundation podcast on *that* research finding 62 people are as rich as half of humanity, concluding redistribution driven from top and bottom is the solution
 
“If I have 100 seal skins, it’s not going to do me any good. I cannot use them all” – A tribal elder from Greenland talks about sharing, in a series of videos on wealth by Triodos bank
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 3rd February, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Informal discussion about income inequality and actions for a better society. This month we’re trying out a game about the chances and pitfalls of life, looking at Basic Income, and discussing affiliating to the Living Wage Foundation. All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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A FAIR, FREE AND EQUAL SOCIETY. Is that really possible?
Friday, 12 February 2016 – 7:00pm – 9:30pm Freeman College, 88, Arundel St, Sheffield S1 2NG
An MP, an academic and a Quaker social activist consider the topic in three short talks, followed by questions and discussion.  Free admission. Voluntary contributions towards expenses.
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A Fair, Free and Equal Society: From Vision to Action
Saturday, 13 February 2016 – 10:00am – 5:00pm, Freeman College
What world do we want? And how do we get there? What is the role of social businesses, co-housing, farming and education? Explore ways ahead in this workshop led by Martin Large.
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For booking a place, email mailto:robertchamberlain43@outlook.com

A chance of a lifetime…

The point of the story is that the message I felt moved to deliver– that they are strong, they are valuable, they can handle what happens next, they will be okay– that’s a message our children are hearing almost never from the culture. Instead, what they hear over and over is, “You are balanced on the edge of disaster, and if you make one wrong move, you will topple over into the pit, and knowing you, you’re probably going to make that one wrong move.”
 
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Forthcoming
 
Sheffield Equality Group monthly meeting
Wednesday 3rd February, 7pm-9pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House
Informal discussion about income inequality and actions for a better society. All welcome. Free, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Reading Group: PostCapitalism by Paul Mason
Tuesday 9th February, 7.30pm, upstairs at the Rutland Pub, 86 Brown St
A small reading group which welcomes new members, just starting a new book: PostCapitalism by Paul Mason. This month discussing chapters 2 and 3, pages 31-78.. Please note there is no wheelchair access.
 
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Eat junk food!
The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield hosts the Junk Cafe in the Regather Works, offering breakfast, brunch and lunch (pay what you feel). The project is about starting discussion on the value of food and building community. And eating tasty food!
 
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Inequality on the up…
 
Oxfam calculate that the 62 richest people in the world have since 2010 seen their wealth increase by 44%, equivalent to more than half a trillion dollars. Yes you read that right, half a trillion. By contrast the bottom half of the global population, a mere 3.5 billion people, saw their share of global wealth drop by an astonishing $1 trillion dollars, which is 41%.
http://bit.ly/1nvzzCO (Open Democracy)
 
It’s easy to think that inequality is inevitable but, says Danny Dorling, we are living in extraordinary times. The overall wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK has doubled in six years. Not only should this not go on, but it can’t go on…
http://bit.ly/1RKy3cb (the Guardian)
 
…what happens in the workplace might change it…
 
…a wider group of people should have a say on pay, not just directors on “remuneration committees” or shareholders, but others who have a different kind of stake in the company. … “Get employees and customers to vote on executive remuneration. If they are treating people well, all well and good.” – the BBC on how executives earned the yearly wage of average employees in just a few days
 
“There should be tax incentives towards employee-owned and co-operative companies. There should be legislation for employee representatives on company boards. A number of members of the European Union have that kind of legislation. We don’t, and we need it.” – Richard Wilkinson, co-author of the Spirit Level, on what we can do to address inequality

Buy less, live more

“Black Friday sucks the life out of small businesses, who cannot compete against this ruthless price cutting. If you really need to shop on Buy Nothing Day, ignore the big retailers with their aisles of organised landfill and make commitment to support local independent shops and businesses.”
 
“By making the discount period small, consumers are encouraged to bypass the contemplation stage of a purchase and grab products mindlessly off the shelves. This plays perfectly into the retailers hands, as shortening the decision process will lead to less questioning over how good an offer you are really getting, whether you really need the particular product, and if that money could be better spent elsewhere. The period of consideration has evaporated completely, and it appears that people are willing to buy now, regret later.”
http://bit.ly/1MI1AOV (Sandmachin / WordPress)
 
“Can anyone reasonably argue that discounts of up to £50 on any of these items are not worth a teeny, tiny little soul that you don’t really need anyway?” http://bit.ly/1kWzI0E (The Daily Mash)
 
Tonight – before you go to bed, think back over your day and remember three good things that happened – things that went well, that you enjoyed or were grateful for. These can be small (e.g. a delicious sandwich or a child smiling on the bus) or of bigger importance for you. Then do it tomorrow. You’ll probably find it varies. Try doing this for a week to start with. The maybe another week. It helps if you note down the good things, then you can look back and think about what makes you feel good and why.
 
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Forthcoming
 
Play games for equality – Sheffield Equality Group
Wednesday 2nd December, 7.00pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
What’s your favourite board game? Is there a parlour game you love? For our last meeting this year we’re having an evening of chat and game playing, thinking about how games can get across ideas of co-operation, equality, community… or we might just have a bit of a laugh with the usual chat. All welcome, donations for tea and biscuits.
 
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Time for Climate
Saturday 28th November, from 12pm midday, Tudor Square
Buying less stuff isn’t just good for us, it’s good for the planet too! Come with your family and friends and be part of our growing climate movement – all welcome. Mass sing and silent vigil at 2pm, various events round the town centre, part of the Global People’s Climate March.
 
“Local Public Banking” – with Positive Money
Monday 30th November, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
Public banking is 40% of banking in Germany and 25% of banking worldwide, but is rarely discussed in the UK. In Germany, this has resulted in a very vibrant small and medium business sector. With no speculation in the financial markets, local banks did not suffer from the crash of 2008 and helped keep businesses going.
Suggested donation of £3
 
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Stay Inspired!

We’re carrying on inspiring conversations at our next meeting, 7pm Wednesday 18th November at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House. You are most welcome to come along and share ideas, take part, and change the world for the better, even if just a little bit. (Facebook event page)
 
You can watch a video with ideas and reflections from our screening of the Spirit of ’45 here:
 
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Hope and taxes
 
Mrs Carthew said the traders had a “very good meeting” with HMRC when they submitted their offshore tax plan for approval. “It’s a threat to the Government because if they don’t act this could be rolled out to every town. Everything we have proposed is legal.” – the town that moved offshore to expose tax loopholes (Independent)…
 
“If you are reading this in the Beehive on West Street or the Graduate on Surrey Street, you are in a building owned in the Cayman Islands. If you work in the Hallamshire Business Park off Ecclesall Road, the ground under your feet is owned in Luxembourg. If you shop in M&S, Boots, Starbucks or Topshop, your pennies will be spirited away into tax havens across the world.” – on why we should share what we have for a better future (Now Then)
 
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Waste not
 
In a consumer society we don’t realise how much is being wasted (BBC iPlayer)… there’s now a national campaign you can join (Waste Not UK)… which has already persuaded one supermarket to change (Telegraph)… and donate food to places like the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP Sheffield).
 
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Forthcoming
 
Spending Review Rally
Wednesday 25 November, 5pm outside Sheffield Town Hall
Will the Autumn spending review witness a change in politics as wealth is distributed more equally and universal services to those most in need protected? Or will it be another swathe of cuts to local government that will risk care and support? Rally outside Sheffield Town Hall organised by South Yorkshire People’s Assembly
 
People’s March for Climate, Justice, and Jobs
Saturday 29th November
Ahead of the climate talks in Paris, a global march to demonstrate the need for action on climate change.
 
“Local Public Banking” – with Positive Money
Monday 30 November, 7.30pm, Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James St. S1 2EW
Public banking is 40% of banking in Germany and 25% of banking worldwide, but is rarely discussed in the UK. In Germany, this has resulted in a very vibrant small and medium business sector. With no speculation in the financial markets, local banks did not suffer from the crash of 2008 and helped keep businesses going.
Suggested donation of £3
 
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