Showing posts with label Making Links. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Making Links. Show all posts

20 January 2011

RESPONSE - Making Links

Someone is disappointed and upset, the local paper gets hold of the story, and before you know it the front pages of the national newspapers have jumped onto what is becoming a rapidly growing bandwagon. What am I referring to? The developing furore over a small group of women called 'Making Links'.

Local news articleI'll say straight away that I am not a member of and do not represent 'Making Links', St Neots Town Council, or the Open Door Church.

It's easy to understand how frustrating it is to be told that a particular organisation is not for you. And it would be very helpful for the people involved to be able to talk about the issues in a friendly way over a nice cup of coffee. But the heat and anger now being expressed in print using heavily loaded words like 'banned' and 'racist' is making gentle dialogue almost impossible. It may sell more newspapers, but it doesn't help anyone understand the situation. And it's a great way of polarising opinion, stoking up anger, and setting people against one another.

I'm disappointed that some news organisations should promote dissension over understanding. Selling extra copies of a paper is held to be more important than fostering cooperation and harmony. Using loaded words trumps explaining the facts.

What are the facts? Despite the angry headlines we don't really know! The reports tell us that two British mums were turned away from a group created to help foreign women. It seems the group is funded by a government department, the local authority, a local church, and several businesses. There's a little more detail, some comments from the mums involved, from the group's administrator, and from someone at the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It's not much to go on.

As a result of the news coverage the local MP and some of the funding bodies have already expressed opinions and are considering closing the group down (again, according to press reports).

Meanwhile it must be very difficult for 'Making Links'. What are they to do? The money was granted for them to help foreign women, they would certainly have been criticised for spending it on local residents who are not from overseas! It might be helpful to have a few British mums involved, but where would they stop and how would they decide who to accept and who to turn away?

There are no easy answers. But talk of closing the group without knowing more is surely over reacting and premature. What is needed first (and soon) is for the group organisers, the funding bodies, the local MP, and the offended mums to sit down together over that cup of coffee and find out what happened, why it happened, and what might have been done better.

But hey, don't pay too much attention to the strong, divisive, angry words in those newspapers. (This Google search will provide links to the story as it develops.)

As a non-involved resident of St Neots and a follower of Jesus I am praying about this situation. I am asking for cool heads, for hearts filled with love and grace, and for wise decisions based on information about what happened. I'm confident that this will happen.

Father, please bless the two mums who were turned away, their children, the foreign women in the group, the organisers and volunteers who run 'Making Links', and the people who fund the group.

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