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Norwich Quakers: modelling conflict resolution

On 25th February 2019 , Woman’s Place UK organised a public meeting, A Woman’s Place is breaking ground, together with local women in Norwich. It was held at the Friends Meeting House.

The speakers were Hibo Wardere, Linda Bellos and Kiri Tunks. The meeting was protested by a small group of people who stood right by the entrance with a banner and rejected attempts at dialogue. They took photos of attendees. After the meeting had started, they set off a fire alarm.

We understand that several people made complaints to the police about the meeting.

We were never contacted by the Police.

You can read a report on this meeting published on the local EDP24 website here.

Following this meeting, the Norwich Quakers undertook to find out more about the issue and invited a range of people with different perspectives to make presentations to them.

They have now published this account of the process they undertook.

Shortly after the meeting, the Norwich Quakers asked us for a clarification of our statement about toilets. This is the statement we sent them.

WPUK would like to thank Norwich Quakers for taking the time and care to understand different perspectives on the sex/gender debate. This is a genuine attempt at respectful consideration of the issues from all sides and has clearly led to a greater understanding of people’s concerns.

We note the closing paragraph and agree that there is much work to be done:

“Nobody benefits from the perpetuation of conflict. There is much more work to be done to take the hostility out of this sensitive and contentious area, to enable common ground to be explored, and to promote understanding of all perspectives.”

The process the Norwich Quakers have adopted provides a model for other organisations and political parties, all of whom have an obligation to facilitate respectful debate in a democratic society. For public bodies, such an obligation is a legal duty.

Unless there is a greater attempt to facilitate understanding between all parties, we will fail to find a progressive solution that upholds the rights of everyone.

7th March 2020

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