It was my grandmother who inspired me to join the peace movement

Hello.  My name is Karen Robinson.  I am very excited to have recently started work as the new Campaign Worker for Conscience: Taxes For Peace Not War. Perhaps in this first post I could share a little of my background and why I was so interested in applying for the job.

It was my grandmother who inspired me to join the peace movement.  She was born in 1900 and spoke searingly about the horrors of the First World War and the young men she knew who never came back.  It was from her I learnt about conscientious objection.

My grandfather was a conscientious objector. He did agricultural work during the war.

In the 1980’s I was very aware of the Peace Tax Campaign (as Conscience was then known).  It campaigned for the right to conscientiously object to paying the part of our taxes which goes to the military, and for the right to divert that money to peaceful purposes instead. 

I felt very privileged to be an observer at the huge Quaker Yearly Meeting at that time which considered the question of employees at Friends House wishing to withhold the portion of their taxes which went to the military.  It was a very respectful and moving decision-making process and resulted in backing for employees who wished to take that step.

I have been reading about the work of Conscience since that time and can strongly relate to the following paragraph from the History section of the Conscience website; “From the start, the ‘Peace Tax Campaign’ involved both those who wanted to stay within the law while campaigning to change it, and those who felt driven to follow their conscience, even if that meant breaking the law. These different approaches have usually proved to be complementary”. as I have adopted both approaches at different times in my campaigning in the peace movement.

I am a long-term and passionate campaigner for nuclear disarmament, and was very active in the 1980’s at the women’s peace camp set up at USAF Greenham Common in protest at the Cruise nuclear missiles at the base.  A group of women from ‘Women for Life on Earth’ walked all the way from South Wales to USAF Greenham Common in Berkshire, to protest against Cruise missiles.  Frustrated at the lack of response to their protest they decided to set up camp at the base.

In 1982 I was one of the local co-ordinators for the ‘Embrace the Base’ action in 1982 when 30,000 women linked hands around the perimeter fence.  I also took part in the nonviolent direct action the next day when women sat down in front of the gates to the base. 

I took part in many further nonviolent direct actions in protest against nuclear weapons, and in the course of these was often arrested for obstruction of the highway.  I later made speeches in court, was fined, and on refusal to pay the fines was often sent to prison.

I have been a life-long member of CND and have attended its demonstrations through the decades.  I also went on the massive demonstration against the Iraq War.

In my thirties and forties I spent ten years working in adult education teaching English to speakers of other languages. Many of my students had fled war in their home countries. They taught me so much. More recently I trained and worked as a mental health researcher.  I am passionate about campaigning in support of the NHS and raising awareness of mental health issues.

So that’s a little about me!  Very much looking forward to getting to know, and working together with, the Conscience team, Conscience supporters, and our partner organisations in the peace movement and beyond.

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