It was a real pleasure – and a surprise – to be asked to speak at St Peter’s Church in Harrogate on 1 March 2018 as part of the “Weekday Reflections”. Reverend Tim Hurren, Associate Vicar at St Peter’s and co-trustee of the Harrogate Hub with me, invited me to speak.
The Harrogate Weekday Reflections commenced on 22 February, when Dr Stewart Davies, an expert in the manufacturing of concrete, spoke to a fairly sizeable Harrogate crowd about his work, and how his work interacted with his faith. The format is that the audience eat from the café, and every five minutes or so are invited to listen to a speaker be interviewed about their work.
Next came me – “the Harrogate Solicitor”, coming from a Quaker perspective, and speaking on The Snow Day! Either it was the freezing temperatures and snow-laden ground, or it was the thought of listening to a Harrogate Solicitor that considerably reduced the size of the audience! Given that my children’s school was closed, I had to take them with me.
I spoke about the ethos of the firm – that we are really keen to provide access to justice. I lamented the changes to Legal Aid and the reduction in the financial budgets – and therefore the reach – of some of the Harrogate-based and national advice bureau. What’s the point in having legal rights if they cannot be enforced?
In the second session I went on to explain that as solicitors in Harrogate we try to do the right thing, but that we are far from perfect. I then outlined the startling inequality of treatment meted out to many migrant workers, in particular, Polish workers. By lunchtime, I explained that we had already that day received six new enquiries from Polish people who had been mistreated at work. I explained that many Polish women are discriminated against when they fall pregnant and that it is akin to Victorian Era treatment of workers.
Following me will be Mike Proctor, the well-known Harrogate Optician, speaking on 8 March 2018. Thereafter Sarah Martin will be talking about her work as an accountant and Tim Boatfield will be speaking about his work as a taxi driver in Harrogate.
If you find yourself in Harrogate, want to learn about the work of some of these interesting (other than me) Harrogate people, and like a nice lunch, why don’t you drop into St Peter’s Church at lunchtime over the few Thursdays?