This summer will be remembered for many things; for me in particular sweating away in a coffee shop and preparing the Faith and Spirituality materials for this year's Vocal Training event with SPEAK. However, I will never forget the morning in July when I met my local MP...
I arrived early (such a British thing arriving on time!) and called through the doorbell , hearing “you do know you're early”. Anyway, MP Anna Soubry's assistant welcomed me with some pear juice and I clutched onto my materials about the BDS campaign like some accidental activist. I was nervous about the meeting, but the issue of Palestine was so important I had to SPEAK up about it. I wanted a photo immediately, but she told me to sit down first. I was wondering whether she was in a good mood today or not. I had seen her on Question Time a few weeks before the meeting and she said some good things about people being able to act out their religion in peace.
Sitting in her board room, she skimmed through my e-mail and she smiled as I had e-mailed her before about something else. Anna quickly became a friend and was fascinated about what SPEAK Network was about. I explained how we were apolitical, had a strong Christian basis, but were also very welcoming and inclusive. I said how my group in Nottingham decided to focus on learning about the conflict in Palestine and Israel. I said how there was a campaign to boycott Veolia in local communities, as they were supplying waste services to illegal settlements on the West Bank; they were directly profiting from an illegal occupation where basic human rights are being ignored. She perked up and said that she would write a letter to Veolia as my MP!
I was so pleased that she resonated with what I was saying, and like myself she says ultimately she wishes for peace too. So after feeling really under qualified about speaking about an area that I have never been too, I felt very empowered about speaking up for justice to a politician who is very influential. Before I left I got a photo with Anna and we shook hands.
I left Barton House that morning feeling triumphant. I encourage anyone who is passionate about something in the world to have a chat with their local MP, as they may surprise you.