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Harrow's Holocaust Memorial Day Event
January 2017

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ANNUAL REPORT 2016-17

Officers and Committee members
Chair: David Cryer  
Vice Chair: Terry Lilley  
Secretary: Julie Crow  
Treasurer: Charles Rudd  
Member: Eileen Bostle  
Member: Tony Thorne  

Committee meetings were held on 15 April and 18 November 2016

Membership: We had 16 paid up members and several others who attended some of our meetings and/or social events.

Deaths
Naseer Kwaja was at one time a regular attender of our weekly coffee mornings. He had been in poor health for some years and in February we heard of his death some weeks previously.


Meetings Programme

  • In April 2016 Luke Donellan, the BHA's Head of Education, spoke to us about the How, When and Why of teaching Humanism in schools.
  • In May we had our 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which Terry Lilley gave a report on his three years as Chairman. A vote of thanks was given to Terry for all his hard work and he was presented with a Harrow Humanist coffee mug. We watched a video on the subject of Science versus Philosophy.
  • In June we had Jay Harman, Campaigns Officer of the BHA telling us how to make the case for including Humanism in school RE teaching.
  • In September, Gus Bell, formerly a microbiology researcher in Canada, Switzerland and Ireland, gave an overview of disease-causing microorganisms and how they spread, putting it in the context of evolution. He then focussed on malaria, including some of the work done by his laboratory on drug discovery.
  • Our October speaker was Chris Moos talking about gender segregation and how fundamentalists are changing Britain with their attitudes.
  • In November Julie Crow reprised a talk she had given on Humanism at a local school assembly as an example of the type of activity we can carry out in schools.
  • Our January 2017 meeting was addressed by Dr Oliver Scott Curry, who is an evolutionary anthropologist. His title was "Morality as Co-operation: How Evolution Explains Ethics" and he presented the very convincing evidence from sociological and anthropological research in animals and human populations.
  • In February, we watched a video in which Steven Pinker explained the significant biological differences between the psychology of males and females.
  • At our March meeting Tony Thorne talked about the history of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) "Why, When and Where; an Aspect of Humanism and Human Progress".

Other activities

BHA Group Representatives Annual Meeting (GRAM)
In September David and Terry attended the 2016 GRAM at Chachaanteng Restaurant, Holborn, 36-38 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EY. Hosted by Greater Manchester Humanists, many BHA officers were in attendance, including new officers Teddy Prout (Director of Community Services) and Sarah Gillam (Director of Communications). The GRAM was structured firstly into three 40 minute workshops run by BHA officers and chosen from the following topics:
1. Dialogue and 'Interfaith' - How can groups engage in dialogue with local faith organisations?
2. Younger and student humanists - How can groups attract a younger demographic of members?
3. Supporting apostates - How can groups support people leaving religion?
4. School speakers - How can groups support the BHA's School Speaker Programme
5. Community impact project - What projects can local groups design that will have the maximum positive impact on your community and how to get them funded?
6. Campaigns - How should local groups campaign?
7. Strengthening diversity - How can groups increase the ethnic and gender diversity of their (and the BHA's) membership?
8. Pastoral Care - How can groups support the BHA's Pastoral Care work?

This was followed by a very professional presentation by Carolyn Bishop of Greater Manchester Humanists on a ten-point plan for building a successful annual events programme. After this, Sarah Gillam, the BHA's new Director of Communications and Development, discussed how to spread the word about our partner groups.
A great deal of very professional advice was gleaned from the event, and much of it will inform our 2017 events and aspirations.

Harrow Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE)
David has followed Julie's tenure as representive for Humanism on Harrow SACRE. The new syllabus should have been completed and presented to Harrow Council in April 2016 but was not. The delays continue on an obscure disagreement between the council and the Divisional Director of Education Services Patrick O'Dwyer, so RE Teachers will have to use the old syllabus as guidance again this year. The future of SACREs is not certain but David has had a chance to express Harrow Humanists wish for a national RE curriculum with some local overseeing from a more participatory SACRE.

BHA SACRE Reps Annual Meeting
David also attended the BHA SACRE representatives meeting at Cockpit Arts, Cockpit Yard, Northington Street, London WC1N 2NP in November 2016. Jay Harman (BHA Faith Schools and Education Campaigner) spoke about the current, national situation with Religious Education (RE), and the High Court ruling of November 2015 on the Government's 'error of law' in leaving non-religious worldviews such as humanism out of the GCSE curriculum. There was news from many SACRE representatives on the diverse condition of SACREs and their admission of humanist representatives. Luke Donnellan (BHA Head of Education) ran through the BHA's extensive resources for RE teachers and school speakers programme. The guest speaker was Trevor Cooling, Chair of the Religious Education Council for England and Wales, which was encouraging in showing that a religious man was willing to share a common pursuit with humanists on the implementation of RE (Jay Harman is a BHA representative on the Religious Education Council for England and Wales).

Harrow InterFaith and local community engagement
With the hope that joining the network of other 'belief' groups in Harrow might increase our profile and participation locally, Harrow Humanists (HH) joined Harrow InterFaith (HIF) as a group member in 2016. In July 2016 HIF Chair, Jack Lynes, who has sought to include humanism in the group, invited Terry and David to join HIF members at the Harrow Annual Civic Service, St Mary's, Harrow on the Hill. Two weeks later David attended a Harrow InterFaith Question Time event at Harrow Civic Centre. Both as members and as 'known' faces, HH is now included in the full roster of Harrow events as a 'community leader group' (we have been invited to two events organised by Harrow Police on 'Hate Crime' and 'Terrorism Response Strategy'. David took up the invitation to help organise and participate in the Harrow Holocaust Memorial Day Event in January 2017 (a successful event in front of an audience of 400 people at the Harrow Arts Centre) and as a result he was nominated and elected to the HIF committee. It is hoped that HIF may be a bridge to a wider audience for a Harrow Humanist public event later in 2017.

Harrow Remembrance Sunday parade and service
David laid a wreath on Harrow Humanists' behalf at the Remembrance Day ceremony 2016 at the Civic Centre. Terry and Charles attended as invited guests. It is to be decided what form of ceremony we participate in next year (2017) as there is not an HH committee consensus on the role or form of Remembrance in this country or locally.

Schools
Julie conducted an assembly on Humanism for GCSE year boys at the John Lyon school in Harrow at the end of September. This consisted of a 25 minute talk with powerpoint illustrations, some of which were derived from the BHA's schools website (understandinghumanism.org.uk) followed by questions from the students.

Social
In July 2016 we had a day's outing to the Olympic Park for which Eileen Bostle and Maureen Lilley had arranged an excellent itinerary. We went by tube to North Greenwich for a trip across the Thames by the new Emirates Air-Line cable car which was brief but spectacular. We then had coffee sitting by the riverside and proceeded to Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We were impressed by the adaptations made to the Aquatics Centre swimming pool so it can be used by local children and others and by the beautiful landscaping and garden areas alongside the River Lee. We took a boat ride along the river and were told about all the further developments for the heritage aspect of the games. Altogether a very enjoyable day.

In August we had our traditional pub lunch at The Preston, an opportunity for informal chat and socialising.

We had our Midwinter, Yuletide (sometimes also known as Christmas) party on 14 December with mulled wine and food contributed by all. Poems were read, some of which were amusing and there was other light entertainment.

Our weekly drop-in coffee sessions have continued in Debenhams café at 11.00am on Tuesdays and we also have brunch in the same venue at 11.00 am on the last Sunday of each month. All members and friends are welcome to these informal events.


JC April 2017


 
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06-10-2016
'One of our members' letter to his MP on new government Faith School plans'

01-02-2016
'RE Classes and Curriculum in Harrow'