Name: Anna Bland, Development Officer

Tell us a bit about you: I started in my role in Summer 2019 and was asked to build something new in Leeds City Centre. It has been an interesting and exciting road to get where we are at now; with a clear vision, a growing number of communities and a small passionate staff team. My role is to oversee the development of the work and the team, it has been a joy to see how things have grown and flourished. Previously I was a Community Development worker in York. I live with my fiancé Andy in Leeds City Centre.

Is there an area of activism you feel particularly passionate about? Hm this is tricky, it has probably changed over time. The first social justice issue I became really invested in was gender justice. This is still definitely important to me, but the Climate Crisis has been the main focus of my activism in recent years, due to the crossroads we are at and the rate of change required. Currently this is particularly with the Leeds Craftivists.

What do you do to care for your wellbeing? Finding time for rest is the big one for me. I find it tough to prioritise that space in my week and have to intentionally carve out time to reflect. I also try to exercise, spend time outdoors, pray and meditate regularly as I know this combination keeps me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally well.

Which song do you most remember from school? Definitely ‘Reach’ by S Club 7, what a tune!

What does your faith mean to you? I have been a Christian since I was in my early teens and it certainly hasn’t always been an easy path. Even in the difficult times of rejection and doubt there are a few things that have brought me back round. I find my faith to be incredibly grounding; it reminds me what is most important in life and that I am part of something bigger. I have always been drawn to the radical love Jesus showed to the people he met. This alongside his courage in standing against injustice have always been an inspiring combination for me. Through my faith I have also had my most profound experiences of acceptance; through experiences with God, but also within Christian community and friendship. I struggle with representations of faith that focus on rules and strict codes of beliefs, but love embodiments of faith that focus on love, seeking wholeness and community.

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