Vocal Training normally takes place over a long weekend in September. We try to find a venue in a rural setting, often taking our “little big dress”, the SPEAK yurt, to use as a venue alongside the indoor facilities, kitchen, bathrooms etc.
Accommodation is normally a choice between camping (for those who enjoy sleeping under canvas), or indoor crash-pad (for those who feel September is too late to be sleeping outdoors.) The event is very community minded, with people taking turns to cook and wash up as we eat together.
The aim of the weekend is to equip people with the skills and inspiration needed to be able to campaign effectively, to pray and to share your faith wherever you are. Sessions will include skills-based training for communicating our faith and campaigns, practical workshops on everything from holding a prayer event to lobbying an MP, tips for running a SPEAK group or for getting your church or community group more involved in justice issues. We might look at the theology of justice or how to campaign creatively. The programme will vary from year to year, so make sure you check out the page for the Vocal Training coming up to get the most up-to-date details.
Outside of the official sessions, the agenda normally allows for plenty of free time between the workshops and trainings, allowing people the time and space to reflect and discuss topics that have been brought up. The free time can also be used for drinking cups of tea with new friends, exploring the surrounding fields or woods, spending time with God out in the open air or in the prayer room, playing games and soaking up the sunshine (or dodging rain drops – this is the UK!) or even going scavenging for edible fruit and berries to make pudding.
The cabaret evening is fast becoming a regular feature of Vocal Training, giving people in the Network a space to perform songs, poems, stories or comedy (amongst other things), both familiar classics and trying out new material they’ve written themselves. We now have a log fire stove in the yurt, which makes the evenings warm and cosy.
Some people come in pairs or small delegations from their SPEAK groups, some people come on their own. The format of Vocal Training with its friendly shared meals, informal chats & discussions, and spending time with people who are passionate about the same things as you, means that no matter how many people you know when you arrive, you will leave with many friends from across the country, and sometimes beyond.
Vocal Training is probably the best way to start your academic year, to get the support, inspiration and training to campaign effectively through the year ahead. It’s also a lot of fun!
Why not join us next September…