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April 2017 Edition 31


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The Presidents Blog | April 2017 | 31st Edition

 

NEC Meeting Friday 7th April to Sunday 9th 2017

 

The President's Blog was established with the aim of keeping members fully updated about the work of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and developments which affect the Union and the wider movement. Much of the work of the NEC is by its very nature confidential but every effort will be made to keep members fully apprised wherever appropriate.



AGM Paperwork

The NEC has been concerned for some time over the costs, both financial and environmental, of sending out full reports, minutes and accounts to every member in hard copy. Whilst every member is entitled to receive this information, if the documents remain unread, then this is simply a wasted exercise. From this year all the necessary paperwork will be produced on the Union's website; every member or delegate who registers to attend Conference will receive hard-copy documents by post and any member not attending the AGM who wishes for a hard copy will be able to apply and these documents will be provided. The Directors recognise their responsibility to continue to find efficiencies in the running of the Union to ensure that our limited resources can be applied to where they will do the most good.


A new Museum for the College
An architect has been commissioned to draw up plans for a new building at the AFC which will house a new meeting/group room and a purpose-built Museum and archive store. As the collection of artefacts and memorabilia grows following the transfer last year of the Two Worlds archive, the College is establishing a world-renowned resource for the study of Spiritualism and Paul Gaunt's study weeks are growing in popularity, especially with people from the academic communities from around the world. When plans are complete and approved, then planning applications will be made to the local authority.

Open Week 2017
Final preparations are underway for this year's Open Week at the AFC; it promises to be a memorable event as usual, with support from the tutors at the AFC and a special guest appearance by Leslie Price, the archivist from the College of Psychic Studies in London, who will be giving a guest lecture during the four-day event. Open Week this year coincides with the Healing Awareness Week organised by the Healing Forum, of which the Union is a part, and each day contains a strong healing theme. On Saturday 29th April Lucinda Drayton will be giving a special concert in the Sanctuary, bringing her special blend of music to the College; the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Healing Awareness Week appeal to benefit two specialist healing charities, the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust and the Healing Hands network. For details of the Open Week programme visit the SNU website home page and click on the Open Week poster; for tickets for the week or the concert contact the College direct on 01279 813636.

World Congress 2018
Arrangements for the historic World Congress are now underway; the final plans for accommodation at the College are being drawn together and it is hoped to launch the marketing exercise within the next few weeks. Demand is likely to be high and those wishing to attend the event should book their place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. The programme for the Congress rests with the World Council and it is hoped this will also be finalised and published shortly. The SNU is organising a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum as part of the itinerary to allow delegates to share our annual Peace Service, which takes place on the first Saturday of July each year.

Jill Harland
The President represented the Union at the funeral of Jill Harland held in Morecambe; Jill was a much-respected tutor at the Arthur Findlay College and it is hoped to hold a memorial service for Jill at the College later this year.

Open Day at the Barbanell Centre
Plans are underway for this year's Open Day at the Centre, which will take place on Saturday May 20th. Tickets for this event are available from the Barbanell Centre on 01785 615513 and the day's activities will conclude with a special Trance demonstration given by Minister Judith Seaman.

Mary Reynolds
Mary Reynolds from the Scottish & Irish District Council is the latest recipient of the Diamond Service Award, which was presented on behalf of the Union by Chris Batchelor OSNU, supported by Margaret Falconer OSNU, President of the Scottish and Irish DC, on the occasion of her 90th birthday.

Fund of Benevolence (FOB)
The Union has reviewed the Trust Deed for the FOB and made recommendations to update this document; Stone King, the Union’s solicitors, have prepared a Deed of Amendment, which will be presented to the FOB AGM for ratification prior to being lodged with the Charity Commission.

Oomi Database
At last, after many delays, Head Office has launched its new database – Oomi – which is intended to improve the efficiency of our data management. This has been a long journey but finally the system is fully operational and work can now begin to design and build a new SNU website, which is long overdue. Rachael Loukes, Head Office General Manager, has now sourced a specialist company, Transform Foundation, and the Union has successfully applied for grant funding to commission and build the new site. Work will begin on this project shortly, with key personnel from the Union travelling to London to take part in a day’s consultation to begin to build the specification for the new site. This is a much-needed and exciting project, which we hope will provide a useful resource to members, churches, districts and the wider public. Developments will be reported as part of the Blog, so watch this space.

February Circulation
Following reports from around the country regarding the failure of the delivery of the latest circulation to members Minister Alan Rawnsley conducted a telephone poll across all districts, calling a sample of members from each district, with 200 members surveyed in total. The results of this poll suggested that 49% of people surveyed had not received their February circulation. Given that the nomination papers were enclosed with this circulation the Officers ordered that a new set of nomination papers be sent with a covering letter to every member. This was a costly exercise but it is important that no member is disenfranchised from taking part in the nominations process for the NEC. Any member who has already returned their nomination papers need do nothing, as all papers received will count, but any member still wishing to nominate should follow the instructions on the second set of forms circulated. The elective auditors will conduct a check to ensure that every member has only lodged one set of nominations and the Union apologises to its members for this problem, which was beyond our control; a full investigation is underway to establish the failure within the system and to understand whether this was an internal systems problem or a delivery problem with Royal Mail. The nominations for Committee Chairmen are not affected and the deadline for returning these nominations remains the same. Our thanks go to Minister Alan Rawnsley and Russell Fitzpatrick for conducting the survey of members.

Charity Commission Registrations
Due to staffing problems and the delay with the latest edition of the Rules for Churches, which still rests with the Charity Commission, no further registrations have been made.

District Council Account Package
The SNU Trust have now been commissioned to test-run the accounts software and provide limited user support; it is planned to launch this with the Districts very shortly.

Safeguarding Policy Review
The National Safeguarding Coordinator is currently in the process of reviewing and updating the SNU Safeguarding Policy; once this is completed an updated version will be issued to every Church. The SNU Safeguarding team continue to work diligently to support our Churches when Safeguarding issues arise. The Union has received many plaudits from police forces and social services around the UK and our thanks go to the National Safeguarding Coordinator for his continued dedication and hard work.

Lyceum Union
The General Purposes Committee has now completed a full review of Bye-laws E, which is the constitution of the Lyceum Union, and a joint meeting with Officers of the Lyceum Union has been held to agree the final text. The new Bye-laws reflect the current scope and activity of the Lyceum Union and are as such fit for purpose.

Policies
Jane Barton, Ordinary Member 3, has been working closely with Minister Rawnsley to draft new policies, which include policies for:

Equality
Equality and Diversity Awareness
SNU Data Protection
SNU DPA Guidelines
Responsibility for Information
Leave Policy
Flexible working
Time Off in Lieu (TOIL)
Lone Working
Grievance Policy and Procedure
Whistle-blowing

The NEC has reviewed these new documents and they will now be finalised and issued to ensure that the Union has an up-to-date set of robust documents to support its employees.
The issues relating to the recent changes in the Data Protection Act will also have wider implications within the organisation and the necessary information and advice will be issued on completion of this work.

MAC Appointments
John Johnson and Henk Lustig from Holland have recently had Services of Acceptance as Officiants of the Spiritualists’ National Union and the NEC congratulates both members and wishes them well in their new role.

Church Improvement Grant
The NEC has allocated £10,000 from Aged Suspense to support Churches with works to improve their buildings and facilities. A form will be posted out to all Churches shortly and the money will be allocated on a matched funding basis in two tranches, with the first £5,000 awarded in July and the second £5,000 awarded in October. Each grant will be for a maximum of £1,000 and applications should be sent to Head Office.

Stockbrokers
Following the appointment of Brewin Dolphin as our sole stockbrokers the Investment Policy statement has been reviewed by the Finance Committee and the NEC has also revisited our stance on ethical investments.

Budgeting
Following discussions with Price Bailey, our auditors, the Finance Director has recommended that the Union adopt and prepare a longer-term budget beyond the current twelve-month plan. Consideration was given to adopting a rolling eighteen-month budget going forward and this proposal was agreed.

Solicitors Bridal Parade
Plans to hold a bridal parade to include current and new solicitors prior to the April NEC meeting have been delayed and it is hoped that this will now take place towards the end of May.

Training & Awards Tutors Day
The Training & Awards Committee hope to organise a meeting via SNUi for its tutors and course organisers; details of this will be issued shortly.

Healing Committee District Visits
To date two District visits have taken place, which were both very successful; it is hoped to roll this out to other districts very shortly.

H1 Course
It is hoped to launch an updated version of the H1 course in time for the AGM in July.

Skype and SNUi Assessments
On 17th March the first on-line assessments took place on Skype; everything worked well and this route proved better than using SNUi. The ability to see the candidate also improved the experience for all involved and it was agreed that in future this is likely to become the preferred option for these kind of assessments.

SNUi
The SNU achieved another first through broadcasting the Hydesville Service from the Sanctuary at Stansted both via SNUi and on Facebook. This was a test broadcast but it went really well and we reached many hundreds of people. Facebook promptly took down our post due to copyright issues with the music used as part of the service. We used this as a learning experience and broadcast the Service of Acceptance of Henk Lustig; this time we edited out the music and over 3,000 people were reached via Facebook, further promoting the message of Spiritualism.
The Union is sad to announce the passing to spirit of Illona Mulock Houwer former Chairman of SNUi, Illona’s hard work and dedication has served to touch the lives of many people around the world, she will be greatly missed within the Union but we wish her well as she begins the next stage of her journey. Our thoughts rest with her family at this time.

Focus on Religion (FOR)
Jane Barton, Ordinary Member 3, is working hard on getting the Toolkit out to the Districts to support the newly-appointed FOR representatives. The NEC have discussed and formulated the programme for our pilot event, which will take place in the Northern District Council during August this year as a forerunner to the main FOR event, which will take place in March next year. Marketing for the August event will begin shortly and our thanks go to the Northern DC for their enthusiasm and support for this initiative.


500 Club
The latest draw has just taken place, with one lucky member scooping a top prize of £500. Any member or Church or non-member wishing to join the scheme with a chance to win some excellent prizes should contact Jane Heatley at the Members Service Centre, Head Office. The odds of winning a prize are 14 to 1, which is better than the National Lottery.


Next NEC Meeting
The next NEC meeting will take place at the Barbanell Centre on 9th, 10th and 11th June. The next Council meeting will take place at the Barbanell Conference Centre on Saturday 7th October 2017.



Have your say -
As part of an ongoing policy of openness the NEC would welcome your views;

please feel free to email your comments to me at president@snu.org.uk



Thought for the day:

'It is always the simple that produces the marvellous.'

-Amelia Barr

 

 

Minister David Bruton
President