The Band of Hope

I received some training last week about ‘recreational’ drugs. I know little about these substances in general and would prefer to keep it that way. Nevertheless, we arrived at the essential group work activities and had to sort through a plethora of packets and bottles containing presumably fake drugs in order to identify them.

The event was hosted by Hope UK, which I was interested to discover is the new name for the Band of Hope. This organisation visited our chapel back in 1894, not bearing packets of cannabis and spent syringes, but to engage in ’an interesting programme of songs, dialogues and recitations’. I’m sure the hours just flew by. This event was part of the British temperance movement, the campaign against cheap booze which urged folk to ‘sign the pledge’. It all seems rather quaint, but Rimington’s Black Bull pub was converted into a temperance hotel only a decade or so after this meeting, so it made its mark. 

Alcohol was a serious problem back then. In 1892, Blackburn alone had 255 pubs, 208 ‘Beer Shops’ and 106 Off Licences, earning it the appellation ‘the beeriest town in England’. All those mills and factories contributed to the need for escapism among those who laboured in them. The threat caused to 21st century Britons by heroin and cocaine et al is as great if not greater than the intoxicant hazards offered to our great, great-grandfathers in the 1890s. I’m glad the Yorkshire Band of Hope is still about, albeit with a new name and less overtly evangelical nature.

Ephesians 5:18: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.