Service and Duty
Whilst preparing to write this note the very sad news of Prince Philip’s passing was announced. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Queen, the Royal Family and all who mourn during this difficult time.
The BBC obituary on Prince Philip describes an extraordinary life of service to the Queen, the nation and the Commonwealth. The text reflects that in his duties the Prince cared deeply for the environment and how government and society could help us live better lives together.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Queen and Prince Philip when they visited a regeneration project I was responsible for in Edmonton, North East London. The Prince was evidently excited and passionate about young people’s education, helping the vulnerable and in making a real practical difference. His enthusiasm and passion were infectious, as was his evident devotion to the Queen. We were left after the visit feeling encouraged, supported and invited to continue our work to conserve the environment and help those most in need. His ethic of duty and service has always stayed with me.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that poverty and inequality continue to be big issues for our country and for our city. With the financial crisis a while back and now the pandemic, we have seen things become more not less difficult for those who are vulnerable, excluded and low paid.
St Wulfran’s works hard to both balance its own books and raise money for charities devoted to alleviating poverty and reducing disadvantage of all kinds. Over Lent and Easter, as part of this mission, we raised over £2000 for the Whitehawk Food Bank. I’m so very grateful to everyone who donated money and worked so hard to raise these much needed funds.
Whilst it’s vital we respond to need, to make sure people aren’t left hungry, we also need to ask ourselves why, in our relatively wealthy society, are people so poor they are unable to feed themselves and their family? Joseph Roundtree 1914 said ‘The soup kitchen in York never has difficulty in obtaining adequate financial aid, but an inquiry into the extent and causes of poverty would enlist little support.’
The answer to the questions of enduring poverty and inequality are not straightforward or easy but we still need to consider them. Much of Jesus’s earthly ministry and teaching was concerned with tackling inequality, helping those in need and asking us to do the same.
Some of the personal actions we might want to consider undertaking include perhaps supporting the over 700 local businesses that are members of the Brighton and Hove Living Wage Initiative, becoming a school governor or possibly volunteering for a local charity such as Citizens Advice or the financial exclusion charity Christians Against Poverty.
Prince Philip reflected that each small action of service added up and made a difference and I would like to thank all those who have helped make a difference this Lent and indeed, throughout the year, for those most in need in our village, the city and beyond. The hard work of duty and service continues.