Oliver Robertson joined FoR in May 2017 as its new Development Manager. He explains what he’ll be doing and what led him to this role.
What is a ‘Development Manager’ anyway? Like many jobs in small charities, there’s bits of everything, but at its core this role is about giving the Fellowship of Reconciliation the things it needs to succeed. Part of the job is about supporting my colleagues, giving them the space to work on their core responsibilities. Part of it is about finding the money to be able to continue our work for peace and putting nonviolence into action. Part of it is about developing new projects, new expressions of Christian peacemaking. And part of it is about explaining all this, whether to the churches, the media or the public.
I’m a Quaker and come to FoR after many years working internationally. I had two stints at the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, working to highlight the often-forgotten situation of children with a parent in prison and to help to build understanding among UN climate change negotiators. I have also worked to end the death penalty and prohibit life imprisonment at Penal Reform International.
I’ve known about FoR a long time (my grandparents met through FoR during World War Two), so the chance to work here was always attractive. Sadly, FoR’s longstanding mission of reconciliation and bringing together people who are divided, feels as needed today as ever. But the empowering role that FoR also plays, enabling its members to act practically and nonviolently, is inspiring: we don’t just need to reconcile ourselves to how things are now, but can build a better world where peace is deeper and more enduring. The Christian, faith-based nature of FoR allows us access to a rich heritage of past experience and spiritual support for this work; it is the roots and the soil in which we grow. I look forward to seeing what emerges in the coming years and to helping the organisation to flourish.