Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The great adventure of generosity

I once was invited around for Sunday lunch at someone's house. A gorgeous and generous mountain of food, I thought I could hear the table groan under the weight of the enormous bowls and pots and pans.

As we ate the food, we each said thank you for one thing we were grateful for.  It became known as the 'Rylett grace', in honour of the lovely people who introduced this way of giving thanks.  I struggled to think of something to be grateful for that day.  It was Father's day - and it was the first - without my dad.  I did not feel like I had an awful lot to be thankful for. 

Being thankful - I think I'm about to discover, has something to do with attitude.  There are lots of reasons why I want to do the 40Acts - but as the first act is to make a thankful list - I get the impression this is going to be good for me. 

So here's my list of things I'm thankful for today.

1. For 1 awesome colleague who solved my problems before they started
2. For the fragrance of the scented candle still in the air
3. For a long weekend coming up and time with family in Wales
4. For my niece's show-stopping self written novel and general creative genius
5. For wifi which is behaving itself more than normal

40 days...

of change...

Starting with...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Praying for the Philippines

My inbox has been inundated daily with headlines from the Philippines, and a constant flow of requests for emergency funds to a number of organisations.

At the same time, I've been so encouraged by people around me, with regular updates of how the emergency appeal is going for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).  To face fear, emptiness, uncertainty - that's something I can't imagine, and so how do we react? We give, and we pray.

My friend Sara has something to say about praying - which I'll share with you - because to find words at this time is incredibly difficult.  Do read and please keep both Syria and the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers.  

Friday, 11 October 2013

A nice little round of golf

The G8 leaders met in Northern Ireland this summer for their usual round up of business and and no doubt a few holes of golf.  But did their discussions send the ball of poverty into the sandtrap? Or did they stay on par and make good decisions which will change the course of history?

Like many others, I’m staggered by the injustice that lets nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night. There is enough food for everyone in the world. And yet, 3 million children die from malnutrition every year. 

But let me tell you some good news. 

The IF campaign called for

·  the government to keep their 0.7% aid promise.
·  aid to support smallholder agriculture to give poor communities the power to feed themselves.
·  action on tax so that developing countries can raise more of their own revenue and multinational companies can’t dodge their taxes.
·  action on transparency so governments are accountable to their people for how they spend their money.
·  world leaders keep their promise to find an additional $100 billion a year to help poor countries adapt to climate change, on top of the aid budget.

Here is what happened:

·         Ahead of the UK budget thousands of campaigners called on the Chancellor to meet the UK’s aid pledge, leading to a historic commitment to spend 0.7% national income on aid. We first made this promise in 1970 and this is the first year we’ll keep it.
·         Then, ahead of the G8, an additional £4.1 billion was pledged by governments and other donors to tackle malnutrition which could save the lives of almost 2 million children by 2020.
·         We also called for investment to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change. Whilst the G8 repeated its promise to provide finance, the didn’t say where this money will come from. It is vital that progress is made at the UN climate talks in November.
·         The G8 however missed the chance to support the small-scale farmers that feed a third of the world’s population.

Tax and Transparency
·         In the UK: In March hundreds of campaigners lobbied local MPs and thousands wrote letters to George Osborne calling on him to reform UK tax laws in the budget. These reforms would have helped developing countries recover the taxes they are owed. But the Treasury didn’t heed our calls and so there’s still work to do on this.
·         However later, in May, he couldn’t ignore our calls to tackle the elephant in the room – our own tax havens – those in overseas territories and crown dependencies. At the Trade, Transparency, and Tax summit in June, all UK tax havens committed to sign a convention which would help improve transparency.
·         We put huge pressure on the G8 to set out great ambition to tackle tax dodging which they did at the Summit – with a commitment to start exchanging tax information automatically for both rich and poor countries - so it’s not secret any more - this is great, but we need a clear timeline for when it will happen. The public argument for a crackdown on tax dodging has been won, but the political battle remains. Future G8s and G20s must urgently finish the job.

·         IF campaigners ensured that the issue of land grabbing in developing countries was discussed at the G8 and then acknowledged by world leaders in the summit’s final declaration. World leaders, as well as UK Department for International Development are keen to build on this and develop land rights as a wider area of UK expertise. The key win in this area was getting the issue on to the G8 agenda at all – this wouldn’t have happened without the IF campaign.
·         Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and the Prime Minister also recognised the fact that biofuel production should not undermine food security.
·         Far more is needed - The G8 needs to show it will deal with the problem by regulating G8-based companies involved in land deals, and leading more ambitious global efforts to tackle land grabs.

There's more to be done.  Stay tuned for an update on the G20 and the next call to action.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Today I've been slightly overwhelmed by a beautiful bouquet of flowers from a  boy who wants to take me cycling. I'm all smiles.

It has struck me today that our acts of love can have a profound effect on people; not just people we know but people who through an accident of universal collision we come into contact with.  As my friend and I walked back to work after lunch today, she spotted a lady in the street and approached her.  Although they've never met, my friend spoke to her, asking in her softly spoken way if she is the lady who walks down Church Road every day.  'Ah,' she says, 'I've seen you - and I always think to myself that you're very beautiful.'  

Beauty can be seen in our actions. In how we treat strangers as well as loved ones.  How we choose to spend our money.  How we choose to react when something happens to us.  It's how we choose to speak well of someone and how we choose to care for others.

One of my overseas colleagues was disappointed today: the valentine's card his son brought home from school was sadly not for him - but for the family dog.  That - in itself is a beautiful thing.  To love - when we can't expect to get anything back in return.  

And I thought I'd share this little beauty from Tearfund rhythms by way of showing love to someone you don't know.  


Wednesday, 23 January 2013


There's quite a bit of noise out in media land today, and across the UK you might catch a glimpse of some exciting happenings. It is ridiculous that 1 in 8 people will go to bed hungry tonight. 2 million children will die due to malnutrition. But there IS enough food to feel everyone. There's enough food, #IF we act and campaign and pray. We can make a difference. Need more convincing? Let me hand you over to the experts. Read this.
Or - if you've just got 2 minutes, watch this.
And take action. Get your church involved, share the link on social media. Let's make some noise.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Gold Rush

What will you remember about this summer? Did you capture a torch bearer on camera? Were you lucky enough to watch history being made by Usain Bolt? Or did you weep with joy at the medal won by the Chambers brothers? This summer has been a delight of torches, trophies and gold post boxes, as up and down the country we’ve been celebrating with our Olympic and Paralympic athletes, sharing a brief moment of their glory.   In the 5 years that I’ve lived in London, this summer has certainly been the most memorable. There’s been a sense of community and celebration, strangers talking in the streets, a shared pride of our islands achieving great athletic feats. But this fantastic sense of well being can’t just be medal fever. Earlier on this year, we got to know our neighbours as we spread bunting out across the length and breadth of our street, decorated pillars and posts in red white and blue, baked beautiful cup cakes and brought out our gazebos to share a meal in the street together.   And in great spirits, we celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee. This year has been a momentous occasion for bringing people together, sharing good stories and being neighbourly. We’re seeing a movement of good things happening in our neighbourhoods. It was only a year ago that the UK watched on as the scenes of deliberate and angry attacks on major cities unfolded. But The Games have re-introduced us to positive role models, people to proud of, to cheer on and to celebrate with. People who have faced challenges in their lives - and overcome the odds. 

I’ve had the huge privilege over the last few months of getting to know a few people from different organisations, coming together under the banner of ‘Serve.’ Serve is a group of organisations, committed to supporting churches passionately as they transform their communities.  It is about celebrating what the church is doing, inspiring others to action, sharing the good news stories with the government and media. 

I’ve often been inspired and moved by stories shared by colleagues working overseas. The work of partners alongside the local church, releasing potential. It really changes lives: people start to see their natural resources; to see how to lift themselves out of poverty and become independent. And there’s spiritual transformation too: because the church is at the centre of the process and people start to experience God’s heart for the last and the least. 

Bill Hybels said ‘the local church is the hope of the world.’ And hope is what we need, when the stories spread across the papers tell us that 13 million people in the UK are living on the breadline. Hope can come in the form of the local church, a visit from a neighbour, a hot meal or debt counselling. It’s a real privilege to be involved in Serve at this time, working with churches and organisations and people who are passionate about transforming lives. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Loving the unlovable. 
This is where the church is. And this is where it should be.

Mo Farah’s Gold post box in Teddington. Mo trained at St Mary’s college, Teddington and worked in the sport shop on Broad Street.