There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home!
So lamented Dorothy, who after getting on the wrong side of a tornado and being pursued across a strange country by evil witches and aerial monkey sidekicks, was in a position to know something about the sorrows of displacement. But Dorothy at least had a home to return to. Last Sunday we were joined by a group of young people who have suffered genuine homelessness in the real world, until gaining a place at the Park Lodge Project, a charity which provides accommodation and support for homeless young people.
As with most charities, the existence of the Park Lodge Project is a cause for both sadness and joy. Sadness that it is necessary, that the personal, social and economic conditions exist to deny a loving home to vulnerable young folk. But joy that people act to alleviate the effects of this human blight.
I have no idea what the group from Park Lodge made of the somewhat self-conscious oddness of the Sunday Assembly. I hope that they didn’t find it too bewildering. But in any case they conducted themselves impeccably, with the more extravert members joining in with the activities. They were shepherded by Louise, who gave us an insight into the good work undertaken by the charity.
For the first time since I’ve been attending Sunday Assembly we were not blessed by the presence of Gush, who had family obligations to attend to. But we battled on regardless, with Allan and Noel and Jamie taking up the organisational slack to produce the usual amiable, slightly haphazard event that we have grown to love. I honestly think that if Leicester Sunday Assembly ever becomes a slick, stage-managed event in which Allan doesn’t go off on an unscripted riff about the Magna Carta while the microphone is threatening to explode, then we’ll have lost something valuable about the whole experience.
A special mention should be given to Sejal, who overcame some clearly major personal qualms to fill the ‘doing her best’ slot. I hope that she felt as proud for having done it as I did to have a chance to share in her personal experiences. I personally find hearing from members, especially members who aren’t naturally drawn to putting themselves forwards, a hugely valuable experience. If you’ll allow me a quick quotation from one of my own personal scriptures (‘Men At Arms’, by Terry Pratchett):
“It was said later that he came under bad influences at this stage. But the secret of the history of Edward d’Eath was that he came under no outside influences at all […] He just came under the influence of himself. That’s where people get it wrong. Individuals aren’t naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian motion of society, which is a mechanism by which human beings constantly remind themselves that they are… well… human beings.”
As ever, we all ate well together after the Assembly – many thanks to Sue and Shobita and the other chefs – and it was nice to see a few new faces in the crowd and have a chance to chat to them afterwards. Let’s hope that things carry on in this vein, as we move forward into the glorious – if damp – British summertime!