* Clean Slate Campaign
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Oxford Week Nov 29 to Dec 5News
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Beginnings

The idea of a Clean Slate Campaign resulted from a simple experience which Edward Peters, its Chairman, had. He writes: ‘My conscience had been bothering me over the breakdown of a couple of friendships. I had hit back at some friends who I felt had bad-mouthed me. I decided to apologise for my part in this petty quarrel, and these friendships were restored. This made me feel so much better. A little while later I discovered that another old friend had held a resentment towards me for something I had done 15 years earlier. I was horrified, and apologised to this friend for the hurt I had caused. But this episode also reminded me how easy it is to carry baggage from the past, something unfinished which can weigh us down. Suddenly I thought: wouldn’t it be great if we could leave behind the baggage of the past, rather than carrying it with us into the new millennium from our past – to start the new millennium with a clean slate?’

Edward mentioned the idea to friends who encouraged him to develop it. He sounded it a few public figures, who agreed to come on board as patrons. Slowly, during the last part of 1998, the patrons list developed – reaching 80 by early 1999. Their extraordinary diversity signals the fact that this is a non-political, non-denominational idea, with no hidden agenda.

A small group, including charity workers, a law student from the Asian community, an Imam and a marketing professional of 30 years experience, put together plans for the campaign. It would be built around the idea of people signing the Clean Slate Promise, pledging to ‘take at least one practical step to clean their slates during 1999’. Limited time and resources pointed towards an organic, rather than centrally-driven, campaign, with the idea being spread by word of mouth and media interest.

As one journalist has written, ‘the Clean Slate Campaign is modest in its aims – after all, people are only being asked to put one thing right, and it’s up to them to decide what it is. The hope of its organisers is that the experience will give those who try it a taste for new beginnings – and that living with a clean slate will become the habit of a lifetime.’


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