Day 1: We started off our journey gathering at Swarthmoor Hall - the home of Margaret Fell who was one of the earliest Quakers who with her husband Judge Fell supported George Fox in the earliest days of the Quaker Movement from the 1650's. Though the Quakers were just one of a number of groups who were resisting the state and claiming the right to think and worship differently, 360 years later they are still operating as a national organisation that attracts individuals who are looking for something a little bit different.
Margaret Fell was someone who took action for things that mattered to her and on our Day 1 we sat together for 15 mins quiet contemplaion in the same hall where she would have eaten and gathered with other early Friends. The theme that emerged was journeys - and the sense of connection between the journey that Margaret Fell had taken and the one that we were taking. She had set off to London because of her concern at the way in which early Quakers were being persecuted. We were setting off with our different experiences of the way in which vulnerable people were being treated.
We are a mixed age group of riders - 12yrs to 82 yrs - 16 core with a number of others joining us for just a part of the way and others who had come a long to wave us off. A lot of work and planning had gone into making this day possible. This years ride had emerged as an idea following the success of a 4 day pilgrimage last year from Brigflatts to Barrow.
The questions we are holding:
How do we respond to the changes in society that we are seeing that have become persecutory to those for example with disabilities who already have so much stacked against them?
What can be done if the systems that were intended for good seem to be functioning in ways that are proving harmful?
What would/could be some possible ways forward?
First steps though involve getting to know one another and learning to ride safely up and down dale and along and across small lanes and busy roads.
Every journey starts with small steps with some uncertainties about what will be learned on the way but we have chosen our message - on our high visibility jackets - and we now have the support with it of our Area Meeting -
We are the Ride for Equality and for the Common Good
We CAN afford to Care for all.
" If I had understood these ideas before I could have been a lot more effective. In previous jobs I have usually been left to get on with it. Now I have a framework that helps me know what I am doing and why in my work with complex young people and their families" Jenny, Family support worker