Former Exclusive Brethren member Lindy Jacomb was looking for some communications steer leading up to the launch of a formal support network for people like herself wanting to leave high-demand religious groups.
Launched in March 2023, the Olive Leaf Network is one of the few charities in New Zealand working to support those who are vulnerable through leaving high-demand religious groups across the country. Lindy says support from Community Comms Collective volunteer Karlum Lattimore helped the network to get off the runway with strength and clarity of communications.
“Karlum met with me a number of times over a period of months to provide communications mentoring in preparation for our charity publicly launching. She provided feedback on our website and flyer, and gave advice about how to maximise our presence at launch time, including contacting media outlets for publicity, writing media statements, and preparing for a radio interview with RNZ.”
She says Karlum brought specific skills and expertise to the organisation that it didn’t have available, including looking at website design from an end-user perspective and dealing with media.
“She also gave advice about dealing with controversial and tricky topics such as defamation and religious freedoms.”
Karlum says the assignment fitted well with her previous experience as a journalist, communications advisor and media trainer, and her interest in these types of near-cult religions. It also appealed to her feminist ideals.
“This project was particularly interesting, and the timing coincided with the Gloriavale employment court case, making it particularly pertinent and appealing to my old news instincts.”
Karlum says her contribution was largely to confirm to Lindy that she was on the right track and occasionally clarify some of the steps that would be needed to get her messages out to the public.
“She is an extremely capable woman with a great network of people supporting her, so a bit of encouragement, editing and media training were all she needed.”
Lindy says Karlum’s help was just the right support at just the right time. “It also bolstered my confidence and reduced stress to have someone ‘hold our hand’ through new territory.
“As a start-up charity with extremely limited funds, experience, resources and personnel, the support that the Community Comms Collective provided was pretty magical for us!”
Fun and Freedom at a Community Mud Run – Lindy Jacomb got dirty for a good cause at the Tough Guy n Gal mud run, participating in a 6km course of obstacles, mud pits and bush bashing; all while wearing a headscarf. Lindy takes great joy in fun events open to the public like this, especially as she was not allowed to do these kinds of ‘worldly’ activities while she was a member of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Lindy says headscarves are seen as a sign of worship and submission by religious devotees, which of course they are welcome to wear, but to many former members of such groups they are a symbol of oppression and unwanted subjection. “Growing up, I had to wear headscarves and skirts, and couldn’t do things like mud runs. I wanted to wear a headscarf on this run, but branded with the Olive Leaf Network logo, and paired with tights not a skirt, to raise awareness about the Olive Leaf Network. I wanted to use my body to show both a satirical nod to my past as well as my joy at now being free to participate in a community event’.
As a matchmaker I always find it motivating to help organisations like the Olive Leaf Network, which are dealing with tough and sensitive issues. Often these organisations have clear focus and a good idea of how to realise their goals, they just need a guiding hand – and mentors like Karlum Lattimore can help them achieve that.Lachlan McKenzie, Matchmaker
The Olive Leaf Network is a collection of people dedicated to supporting former members of high-demand religious groups. In particular they are experienced with supporting former members of the Exclusive Brethren.
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