Swarthmore Lecture 2023 to focus on how we can change society

26 September 2022

Woodbrooke is delighted to announce that Esther Loukin (nee Leighton) will give the 2023 Swarthmore Lecture. Esther will look at how we can bring about change in broader society, including reflections about what established systems could achieve and what they cannot. She’ll explore where the Spirit is in that decision-making process, for her, and where it has enabled others to support, uphold and deepen her work. Esther will also share some of her experiences of inclusion and exclusion and her hopes for the future.

Esther is the co-founder of the disabled-led organisation Reasonable Access and is known for her activism which challenges and works with organisations to hold them to account on disability access. She recently used legal methods to get National Express to install wheelchair spaces on all their coaches. Esther is currently undertaking a law-conversion course with a view to potentially becoming a barrister.

Esther finds the Spirit in many of the daily tasks of meeting her own and others’ needs, including access needs which are as a result of disability. Here, she finds the law utterly useless and Spirit much more helpful.

Esther first connected with Quakers through Young Friends General Meeting and has deep affection for that community and its non-geographical nature. She has worshiped at several meetings over many years and is currently a member of Hartington Grove Local Meeting in Cambridge.

Woodbrooke’s Swarthmore Lecture Committee minuted this about the lecture:

“The committee has discerned that Esther has the gifts and experience to be able to offer something that is both deepening and engaging on this theme. We feel that her experience of using the law to challenge society, as well as other types of dissent, would be particularly helpful to Friends.

Esther will speak from her experience of life as a disabled person, and explore the different identities that we all inhabit, as well as the diversity of tactics needed to achieve change. We hope that Friends will be encouraged to reflect on where their own actions challenge inequality which harms us all.”

Esther will give her talk as part of Yearly Meeting 2023 organised by Britain Yearly Meeting. This will be 28 April to 1 May. The lecture will be live streamed on the Woodbrooke Youtube Channel. Information about Yearly Meeting 2023 will be available on the Quakers in Britain website in due course https://quaker.org.uk/ym

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