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Local humanists making a big impact!

Dorset Humanists' 'State of the Union' address has just been delivered, and what a year it has been! Their very lively and well-attended AGM each March is much more than just a number-crunching exercise, as the Chairman welcomes members and guests to a free lunch, reminds them of all the things achieved in the past twelve months, awards the coveted annual Humanist of the Year Award, and, yes, there is a bit of business to attend to as well.

Humanist groups up and down the country all do their bit in getting the word out and attending to their members' needs, but it's all too easy for the actual mission to be lost in the noise. To this end, Dorset Humanists have a set of aims in their constitution, by which to measure progress each year, to see if these aims are being met. Their 2022 impact Report is reproduced below.

Dorset Humanists Impact Report 2022

'We’ve been building back after the Covid interregnum. Our recent events at Moordown Community Centre have been attended by over 50 people each time and our recent 'Philosophy of Friendship' talk, at our new evening venue the Orchid Hotel, attracted nearly 40 people. With many humanist groups struggling to get back on their feet after Covid, these are very encouraging numbers for Dorset Humanists.'

Aim 1: Humanism is now a mandatory element in the local RE curriculum – a fantastic result after two decades of patient effort by our SACRE representatives. Our schools visiting team has spoken to around 2,000 pupils about Humanism in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Salisbury, and further afield in Dorset. We now have a humanist adviser at Bournemouth University and Arts University Bournemouth. We take a leading role in producing an online humanist magazine with global reach. 371 people subscribe to our YouTube channel, 1,002 people subscribe to our Meetup site, and our monthly bulletin is sent to 1,019 subscribers.

Aim 2: Our pastoral team and Hardship Scheme has helped members in financial difficulties. Simon Bull continues to conduct humanist ceremonies. Our walks programme resumed over the summer to promote fitness and friendship and our singing group entertained us in December.

Aim 3: We continue to host events of scientific interest, including talks on astronomy, the philosophy of science, artificial intelligence, and how an understanding of maths can help to explain inexplicable phenomena.

Aim 4: We donated over £2,500 to a local foodbank through our Annual Appeal. We supported Bournemouth LGBT Pride. Chris Smith spoke to us about Humanist Schools in Uganda. David Warden spoke at the Bournemouth Remembrance Service and Sally Hawksworth laid a wreath at the Poole War Memorial. David Warden spoke at the Bournemouth & Poole Holocaust Memorial Day event. We took part in an interfaith dialogue event at Bournemouth University.

Aim 5: Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International, spoke at our August event. Stephen Evans, chief executive of the National Secular Society, spoke at one of our evening events. One of our members, Sophy Robinson, serves on the Board of Trustees of Humanists UK. We pay subs to Humanists UK, the National Secular Society, Humanists International, and the South Central England Humanists Network. David Warden attended the Humanists UK Convention and AGM in Belfast and published a comprehensive report in Humanistically Speaking.

Variety is the spice of life

Like all groups, Dorset Humanists' bread and butter is their programme of monthly talks, one of which is held on a Saturday afternoon, and the other is held on a Wednesday evening, each capturing a slightly different demographic, ensuring that different members can attend topics of interest. These, of course, are the routine, but outside of this Dorset Humanists has an annual boat ride, monthly walks, and the annual LGBT Pride, plus social and meal events.

Dorset Humanists celebrated its 25th birthday in 2021, and Chairman David Warden has been in post now for some 14 years. Humanistically Speaking asked David 'What's the secret of Dorset Humanists' success?' David replied:

"Having five clear aims to guide what we do helps to focus our minds. I'm incredibly fortunate to have a loyal, wise, and supportive committee and numerous energetic volunteers and helpers. We learn from our mistakes and we never give up. It is sheer hard work but the world needs the values of humanism and that's what motivates us. We also highly value our partnerships with Humanists UK, Humanists International, and the National Secular Society."

Our news feature would love to highlight other groups, so please let us know if you have a group you would like to tell us about.

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