Being Alongside Everyone: conference report and ‘AGM’

Members gathered at The Charterhouse in central London on 21st May 2022, for a day-long conference exploring questions of diversity and inclusion in relation to faith and mental health.

The event also included Being Alongside’s ‘Annual General Meeting’ – though in fact, the Charity Commission had approved the organisation’s change of legal status to a Charity Incorporated Organisation just days before, which means only the trustees need to attend and vote at these formal meetings in future.

Our two guest speakers stimulated much thought and discussion with their talks about the Church’s relationship with two broad groups of identity: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities; and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

A third session saw members discuss racial justice, guided by the UK Minority Ethnic Mental Health Toolkit produced by the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England.

All three elements sparked further ideas about how Being Alongside can better support local churches and other faith organisations in helping the widest possible range of people in an inclusive, welcoming and responsive way.

The trustees would again like to express their gratitude to the team at The Charterhouse for their hospitality in granting our use of such fantastic facilities for the day.

You can listen back to the addresses given by our guest speakers below.

Canon Ann Clarke, Preacher at The Charterhouse, London on the history of marginalisation of the LGBT community by the Church, and the impact of this stigma on mental health.

Canon Ann Clarke talks about LGBT issues in the Anglican Church

Revd Joseph Fernandez, Lead Chaplain for Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller Communities, London Diocese outlines some of the experiences of Gypsy and Traveller people in the UK, their historic relationship with mainstream Churches, and health disparities faced by these groups.

Revd Joseph Fernandez talks about his work with GRT communities
A collage of images from Being Alongside Everyone, which took place at The Charterhouse in London; speakers Ann Clarke and Joseph Fernandez are pictured on the bottom row alongside new Chair Ben Wilson

The day closed with elements of what would usually be included in Being Alongside’s AGM, including reports from our branches and an overview of the organisation’s finances.

The main news was the Charity Commission’s recent approval of the trustees’ application for the organisation to become a CIO, which will reduce administrative burdens and allow us to focus on delivering our core objectives.

Tributes were paid to outgoing Chair Jamie Summers and committee member (and Croydon APCHM Chair) Canon Andrew Wilson; while new Being Alongside Chair Ben Wilson introduced himself to members.

Committee support members – who will help the trustees in leading the work of the charity – were appointed, alongside Treasurer John Vallat.

Members were also updated on ongoing efforts to establish a new online banking facility to assist with the effective running of the organisation.

New Chair Ben Wilson, Adminstrator and CIO Secretary Revd Lucy Roose, and outgoing Chair Jamie Summers, pictured at the end of the event