The Words of the Marsh Family
Tom Brake Addressing UPF South London Audience
In front of a 50-strong audience at the Peace Embassy in Thornton Heath, Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, received an Ambassador for Peace award, which was presented in acknowledgement of his sterling contribution over many years as a hard-working MP and shadow government minister and for his long-standing efforts in support for human rights and international development. Presenting the award at UPF South London's conference on "A New Future for Britain", Robin Marsh, UPF Secretary General, commended Mr. Brake for his sense of integrity displayed through his consistent support for the principles of peace and social justice. The MP, who had cycled from Carshalton to Thornton Heath to be with us, delivered a forceful message regarding the steps being taken by the coalition government to reduce the deficit and stabilize the economy.
He further emphasized the importance of the concept of a wider society -- a big society -- and the role that the government envisioned community, church and voluntary groups to play. He admitted that working together with a party he had previously opposed represented a great challenge which required a new mindset but illustrated the adaptability of his party. Fielding questions from the audience, Tom Brake talked about the options and timetable for electoral reform, and the desire of his party to remain true to its principles while working within the coalition.
In further speaker presentations, Robin Marsh mentioned how spiritual and moral values such as accountability and living for the sake of others should underlie the policies of the new government, and cited the importance of supporting the UN's millennium development goals and bringing positive transformation through the formation of an inter-religious council at the UN. In the final speech, Greta Sohoye, a Conservative ex-councilor of the local Bensham Manor ward, spoke about our own collective responsibility for having elected a hung parliament, reiterating that "we are all in it together".
Further AFP awards were presented to two individuals for their service to the local community. Thomas Akomeah and Lucy Njomo were acknowledged for their dedication to helping young people to overcome adversity through the opportunities they provided in various programs.
The final part of the event comprised small group discussions on the conference theme. Group discussion leaders summarized the main points covered during animated discussions held in the four groups, such as the challenges that volunteer organizations face with reductions in public funding, the importance of providing support for the family unit as the bedrock of society, and a determination to hold politicians accountable by encouraging individuals and communities to voice street-level concerns. A highly successful event was concluded with announcements of forthcoming activities, including a youth mentoring training day on 17 July to be held at the Peace Embassy. The participants, who came from different parts of London and a diversity of backgrounds, all enjoyed the chance to network before departing.