Relief of suffering
Since the early 1800s British Friends have assisted the victims of war and famine. In 1871 the Friends War Victims Relief Committee was formed to help those whose homes and livelihood had been devastated in the Franco-Prussian war. This committee adopted as its badge the black and red Quaker star which is now a symbol used by Britain Yearly Meeting.
Most relief work begins with some obvious need. But almost always there is, behind the physical need, something much less concrete, a damaged or lonely or hopeless or hungry spirit, and relief work which does not penetrate to this level, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, and make some contribution to healing is a job only partially done... Inspired relief workers cease to be external agents; like Woolman they have a sense of being 'mixed' in with suffering mankind: unselfconsciously they become part of the chaos, the misery and the perplexity in which they move, and yet they neither accept nor are degraded by the situation. Because of their certainty of the will of God for them they are not frightened to find themselves in the centre of the world's evil, and because of their experience of the love of God, they have the patience and the understanding to speak to the condition of their fellows. They do not go about looking for a job to do. They are drawn by their divinely-rooted imagination to the service of God and their fellows in a way that the Lord wills. A relief organisation, then, ought to be a corporate body capable of both commonsense and imaginative action, combined with a natural ability to convey to others a sense of inner peace and stability, surviving outward chaos and yet not divorced from it.
Roger Wilson, 1949