Jesuit volunteers to visit mills, homeless projects in north of England

 Around 70 Jesuit volunteers from six European countries will be exploring the industrial legacy of northwest England when they meet near Macclesfield later this month. The Jesuit Volunteer Community (JVC) in Britain will be hosting the European Meeting, which will bring together delegates from France, Germany, Slovakia, Ireland, Poland and Britain, between 24 and 30 March. They will be discussing the similarities and differences in the JVC programmes in their respective countries, and in particular, will be looking at their core principles of simple lifestyles, living in communities, social justice and spirituality. As part of their visit, the volunteers will be taken to see examples of industrialisation and social action in the region. These will include Quarry Bank Mill near Manchester Airport, where the owner provided cottages and other amenities such as an orphanage for his workers and their families. The People's Museum in Manchester will also give them the opportunity to find out about the Trades Union Movement in Britain, and how workers' rights have been realised over the years. But the delegates will witness contemporary programmes as well, such as a Drop-in Centre for homeless people in Manchester. "This is going to be a chance for us as the host country to show other JVC's how and where we work," says co-ordinator Kate Goodrich. "It's also an opportunity for everyone to swap ideas and opinions about what's going on in their own countries. There will be time for shared prayer and reflection, with each of the participating countries contributing, and of course there'll be lots of social time as well..." JVC was founded by the British Jesuit province 16 years ago to offer young people between the ages of 18 - 35 a one year development programme with the aim of enabling them to become more reflective, grow in self awareness and develop a greater understanding of others. The programmes on which the volunteers work are wide-ranging, from drug rehabilitation centres to assisting people with learning difficulties, providing support for chaplains to supporting young offenders. The European meeting will take place at Savio House, near Macclesfield between March 24 and 30.

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