News News An end of year message from INQUEST ✨ SUBSCRIBE 20 December 2023 Dear supporters, We know there is a lot going on in the world and on our doorsteps that is making this time of year particularly difficult. For anyone who has faced bereavement, the festive season can be as challenging as it is comforting. We are thinking of all those who are struggling, and hope you find some rest, connection, and comfort over the holiday period. Families supported by INQUEST can come together and connect during this time, with a few upcoming events before the end of the year, listed at the end of this message. This was the year in which we celebrated 40 years of INQUEST, with collaborative creative projects and a new campaign for change to continue building on our legacy. We wanted to end the year with a newsletter marking some positive outputs from INQUEST and the families we work with. A massive thank you to the dedicated and brilliant staff team and trustees, rights lawyers, campaigners, and funders who support us and the bereaved families whose expertise and courage drives our work. INQUEST should not have to exist but, at a time of growing authoritarianism and inequality, it has never been more needed. There are ever increasing demands for INQUEST’s casework, policy and campaign expertise, but this is an incredibly challenging and grim time for fundraising for charities like ours. INQUEST remains uncompromising, independent of government and entirely dependent on support from people like you. That support, whether it is through following and sharing our work or making direct donations, makes a huge difference. To help us continue our vital work we are making an urgent appeal for funds. Please consider supporting our work and helping us reach our £40,000 target on the 40th anniversary fundraising appeal. If every subscriber to this newsletter gave just £1, we would be over the line. Please consider donating anything you can, as a one off or monthly donation. Thank you. Here is just a bit about what we’ve been up to and some of the highlights of the heritage project to end the year, with much more about all we have done to come in the New Year. From myself and the entire team at INQUEST, wishing you all a relaxing festive break. Best wishes, Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST THE YEAR IN NUMBERS 19 members of INQUEST staff, with support of brilliant volunteers and trustees, have contributed to the following: 513 families received continued casework support 388 new cases were opened 90 media releases were published, with further reactive media work on all the issues and cases we work on throughout the year 54 organisations supported our new No More Deaths campaign on the National Oversight mechanism, and over 3,500 signatories on the petition 14 policy and legal submissions to reviews and inquiries were completed 4 new reports were published 3+ press mentions of INQUEST per week on average, without counting broadcast and regular national and local coverage of the cases we work on This is without even beginning to count the hundreds of families who were supported through the online group and regular connection cafes, in person and online events, and all the heritage activities and outputs detailed below. Our small team have been working extremely hard to meet the demands, build new projects, and keep our doors open to as many people as possible in challenging times. Thank you for your support throughout the year, from just reading this newsletter, liking and sharing our content, or making donations and beyond. We appreciate you! SUPPORT US UNLOCKING THE TRUTH FOR 40 YEARS Celebrating our big anniversary this year has been an opportunity for reflection, creativity, and collaboration. The pace of change can feel slow in this work, but looking back we see just how impactful the voices of bereaved people have been. In May, we held our inaugural showing of Souls INQUEST, an exhibition using photography and writing as a lens onto state violence, death, grief and resistance. A collaboration between bereaved families, Sarah Booker, INQUEST and Languid Hands, it was a powerful act of defiance in response to decades of injustice. The video is from our launch at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning in Brixton. Next year we have plans to tour the exhibition around the UK, so do look out. After months of work and crafting, the INQUEST 40th anniversary commemorative banner was completed, with 50 fabric squares submitted by families to remember their loved ones. The banner had its first outing at the annual United Families and Friends campaign in October, and there will be many more in the year ahead. We have been delighted with the response so far to our brand new podcast, Unlawful Killing: Death, resistance and the fight for justice. Drawing on our history in conversation with those at the forefront of these struggles, hosts Lee Lawrence, advocate and son of Cherry Groce, and Lucy Brisbane McKay from INQUEST, shine a light on injustice, amplify stories of resistance and explore the best way forward. We have two more episodes coming soon from the first half of season one, which focus on police, prisons, and now mental health. Next year we’ll be working on six more episodes exploring the broader themes of our work: truth, justice and accountability. Please subscribe to the podcast and share far and wide. Finally, in our 40 Years of INQUEST report, one of our founding members Celia Stubbs reflected:“When I helped to set up INQUEST over forty years ago with four other family campaigns: Matthew O’Hara, Richard ‘Cartoon’ Campbell, Jimmy Kelly and Liddle Towers, I never imagined that we would be here all these decades later.” The report provides a snapshot of INQUEST’s work over 40 years and moments of real progress, the key campaigning, legal and political impact it has made and how speaking truth to power has made a difference. NO MORE DEATHS Throughout our 40 years of work there is one message from every bereaved family member that remains consistent. No one wants to see others go through the same experience and for changes to be put in place to prevent similar deaths and injustices. This year we launched our focused campaign for a National Oversight Mechanism, which has received widespread support from 54 organisations and over 3,500 signatories of the petition. In the year ahead we will continue to focus on this work. A big thank you to all of you who have already joined our campaign and supported so far. There will be lots of new content and actions to support in the year ahead, but for now please do consider taking action by signing the petition and writing to your MP, if you haven’t already. TAKE ACTION SHOP INQUEST MERCH FOR CHRISTMAS If you’re looking for last minute Christmas gifts, you have until the 21st to order some INQUEST merch in time for Christmas, which also helps fund our work. We teamed up with Black Lodge Press to bring you these designs, alongside branded merch. Every purchase is a donation towards our vital work, supporting bereaved families in their fight for truth, justice and accountability. Buy your tote bag or t-shirt to join our fight! SHOP NOW FAMILY EVENTS You can now sign up to the INQUEST Family Events Calendar on Google which should help you know what’s on and when. Evening Connection Café – Weds 20th December 6:30pm-8pm We don’t usually have an Evening Connection Café on this Wednesday, but due to the festive break we are bringing our usual monthly meeting forward. If you’d like to attend, please register on zoom for the link here. INQUEST Jukebox Social – Thurs 21st Dec 6:30pm-8pm We will hold our third annual INQUEST Jukebox Social event on Thursday 21st Dec 6:30pm-8pm. This event has become a lovely way to spend time together and a great way to hear new music and share some of the reasons the songs people choose are special to them and their loved ones.Families are invited to put forward a song that brings you happiness, comfort, joy or sweet memories to be played at the end-of-year INQUEST Jukebox Family Social event. Please register here to submit your song request and receive further information.