CSE campaign to tackle child sexual exploitation

Coventry City Council launched a summer campaign using the message ‘Do you know what your friend’s doing’ highlighting key warning signs to help boys and girls from all backgrounds and communities to identify concerns and get help.


Developed in consultation with children and young people, ‘Do you know what your friend’s doing’ is being delivered primarily through popular gaming, entertainment and mobile messaging apps, as well as social media and online magazines.

Using a mix of animations and banners, it is targeting young people through the digital platforms they use.

Children and young people were urged to check out www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more.

Children’s and youth work links

Here are some links from around the world of children’s and youth ministry:

  • Bringing Kids Up on Stage With You: Let’s face it, any number of unexpected moments are possible when you start to include kids in the story. But here’s the thing. The reward of what happens when kids are included in the Bible story is worth risking the unknown.
  • The All-Important Two-Minute Window with Parents: Most parents have no idea what happens during their child’s time at church.  The only thing they do know is what happens in the two minutes they are dropping off and picking up their child.  In their mind, those two minutes are a snapshot of their child’s entire experience at church.  Many children’s ministries overlook those two minutes and miss a great opportunity to gain parents’ confidence.
  • Letter to An Insecure Teenager: John Piper reaches out to one teenager with lessons learned from his own life.
  • Relational/Detached youth work – hamstrung by uncertainty: James writes about how this “occurs when young people who meet detached workers find out that the worker is only going to be there another few months – the young people back off.”

Number of children in poverty increased by 250,000


The number of children living in poverty soared by 250,000 in just one year under the Conservative-led Government, new figures have shown.

HM Revenue and Customs figures obtained by the Daily Mirror show the number of children living in low-income families rose from 2.5m to 2.75m between 2013 and 2014.

This meant that during the last Coalition Government the proportion of children living in families which have fallen below the poverty line reached one in five.

The HMRC report defined children in low-income households as those from families in receipt of out-of-work benefits or those in receipt of tax credits with an income of less than 60 per cent of the national average.

It said the figures were down to rise in lower incomes failing to keep pace with the rise in higher pay and insisted the data did not reflect a real terms fall.

But campaigners accused the Government of failing to protect vulnerable children.

Why God Might Not Have Plans To Prosper You And Keep You Safe


Martin Saunders has written a brilliant article on how too often we misinterpret Jeremiah 29:11 – instead we need to understand that God “doesn’t promise we’ll all get rich, and he doesn’t promise that life is going to be easy. His plan is so much grander than that.”:

It’s one of the most popular verses in the Bible, bringing comfort to millions every day. It’s a wonderful, warm sentiment, which has spawned a veritable industry of bookmarks, posters and mugs. It is pinned to refrigerator doors all over the world, a source of daily encouragement that ‘God is in control.’ Most Christians will know it well:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

There’s an awful lot of truth in this verse. God is absolutely all-seeing; he knows everything that has been and that will be already. He certainly has a plan for the world, and our privilege as his followers is to experience and join in with it daily. He definitely promises us a hope and a future. But that’s not really what we read into that verse, and it’s not really what it’s saying, either.

Go read the rest of Martin’s article.

Wales and their team photo formations

Wales employ the 3-8 formation before the Georgia World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Wales employ the 3-8 formation before the Georgia World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Anyone passing a glance over Wales’s pre-match team photos in recent months would notice there’s something just not quite right about them.

From the numbers not stacking up (four at the back, seven at the front anyone?) to the lopsided nature of the players’ arrangement when a more traditional six-plus-five formation is put into practice, it would appear members of the Welsh national team have a curiously skewed idea of what symmetry is.  Then again, it’s more likely that they’re just having a bit a team in-joke.


The 4-7 formation (before the Austria game at Euro 2016). Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
The 4-7 formation (before the Austria game at Euro 2016). Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Another lopsided effort from 2015 (before Belgium in the Euro 2016 qualifiers). Photograph: Getty Images
Another lopsided effort from 2015 (before Belgium in the Euro 2016 qualifiers). Photograph: Getty Images
Just loose (before a friendly with Australia in Cardiff in 2011). Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Just loose (before a friendly with Australia in Cardiff in 2011). Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Woman wins year of free pizza, donates it to youth homeless centre


Hannah Spooner, a 19-year-old Detroit resident, was delighted to discover she and her boyfriend had won a year of free pizza after entering a raffle at Little Caesar’s.

But instead of keeping the pies for themselves, they donated them to Covenant House, a nonprofit that offers shelter, classes and three square meals a day to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth.

Spooner told a local FOX affiliate that she always knew she’d donate the pizza if she won — even when her boyfriend asked her whether she’d keep just a couple of pizzas for herself.

She said:

“I just know there are other people out there who have nothing.  And I don’t think I should be eating a year’s worth of free pizza when there are people who go hungry at night.”

Harvest and Green Fingers


Nick Tatchell has blogged on harvest and how different it is from when he was a child:

It’s Harvest Festival time of year. The harvest festivals of my childhood saw the altar of our small village church laden with sheaves of corn, mounds of green beans, ripe-red tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears (was everyone an Alan Titchmarsh-grade gardener back then?). These days our church altar is more likely to be laden with tins of soup, beans or other ‘non-perishables’ that we pass on to our local food bank: all very worthy, but where are the vibrant hotchpotch of colours and the raw-earth smells of my childhood?

Go read the rest of the article.

Singapore government say education is not about the grade, it’s about learning

Singapore’s education system has long been criticised for the emphasis on grades over the learning process. But it looks like the Ministry of Education wants to make a bold statement to counter that.

It just launched a touching commercial based on a true story of a student and her teacher Madam Phua:

The video shows how Phua guided Shirley through a failing grade with Geography lessons. Both student and teacher continue to keep in touch today, according to the ad.

Man United break another record… their squad is worth 100% more than Liverpool’s

CIES Football Observatory revealing that they have the most valuable squad of players in world football.


As their research into Europe’s top five leagues shows, Man United’s first-team squad cost €718m (£628m) to assemble, putting them ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Interestingly, Liverpool’s €356m (£311m) is less than half of Man United’s outlay, while title-winning Leicester have a squad worth just 18% of the Manchester rivals’ ranks.

Assembly: Ambition

This morning I led an assembly on the theme of Ambition for one of our local junior schools:

Preparation and materials

None required.


I have a question for all of you sat here before me: what do you want to be when you grow up? Wait for responses or have a few members of the school primed to answer.


The question is one that you will all have been asked at some point by grandparents, aunts and uncles and probably your mum and dad. You may have even thought about the question yourself.


There may be many and various answers to the question and the answer may not remain the same throughout your life. For example, I wanted to be a farmer, then a lawyer, and next a teacher (insert your own here if you like). I have ended up as a youth worker, something I considered, but did not really pay that much attention to. And yet, here I am, in a job that I think suits me and one that I enjoy.


It might be that you want to be a footballer for a particular team (Southampton/Manchester United/local team), a pop star, a neuro-surgeon, astronaut, actor, lawyer, weather forecaster. Or maybe you want to do a seemingly unexciting but essential job like postal delivery, or train to be a nurse, or dare I say it, even a teacher. You may find that your thoughts and ideas change with age, with experience and when you have a clearer understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are.


‘Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.’


This was written by Paul nearly 2,000 years ago, but I believe that it really does have something to say to us today. Let’s break it down shall we and look at how we can apply this teaching to life in the twenty-first century and see if we can find something to use in our lives today.


Let’s think about the phrase ‘selfish ambition’ in the quote from Paul. This is in no way saying that ambition is wrong – it is right to be ambitious, to have goals, aims and dreams that you want to achieve. If those ambitions come out of having been selfish, however – that is, you have put yourself before everyone else, you have trodden on others to get what you want – then that’s not right. Let’s say, for example, that you really want the main part in the school play and you know your friend wants to go for it, too. You have a sneaking suspicion that she might be better than you, so you tell her the wrong dates for the audition. She misses out and you get the part.


Paul also talks about conceit. This is an interesting point because I am not entirely sure we use this word very much nowadays, at least I don’t hear it. We do often hear its synonyms, though: egotistical, self-centred, self-serving. In the play scenario, this might mean that you try out before your friend because you believe that you may be better than her.


Next, Paul says ‘in humility regard others as better than yourselves’. This is not saying that you should always put others first; it’s saying that if you have your own skills and talents, but you know that someone is better at something than you are, then you should take a back seat and allow that person to shine. So, returning to the school play, you should be truthful about the audition dates and let the best person get the part. It is about humility; about being humble and accepting that others have talents that we may not and our time to shine will come, just not necessarily at that particular moment.


By seeing the brilliance of others, we serve their interests, setting aside our selfishness. It is a matter of seeing that ‘what I want’ might not necessarily be what’s best for the greater good, for other people or in the long term.


What can you do in four minutes?  You can hard-boil an egg.  You can listen to a song.  You can queue at a till in the supermarket.  You can take a shower.  You can answer a question that you’ve been set for your maths homework.
Four minutes isn’t a long period of time, but it also isn’t a particularly short period of time either. It can seem too long if you’re doing something that takes a lot of effort. It can seem too short if you need to complete a certain task within that time. For instance, a distance runner trying to break a record has to keep up his or her speed even when the body wants to give up, knowing that the seconds are relentlessly ticking away. Roger Bannister is an athlete who understood exactly what four minutes felt like.
For male athletes in the middle of the twentieth century, running a mile – four laps of an athletics track – in under four minutes became an obsession.
During the Second World War, two Swedish athletes – Gunder Hägg and Arne Andersson – took advantage of their country’s neutrality to chip away at the world record. They brought it down from 4 minutes 6.4 seconds to 4 minutes 1.4 seconds, but they couldn’t break the magic 4-minute barrier.
For nine years that record remained unbroken. It was as if there was a psychological barrier. Some even believed it wasn’t physically possible. Different athletes attempted to break it. At least one claimed to have done so in a training session, but no one could manage it in a public race until Roger Bannister, with his friends Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, lined up at the Iffley Road track in Oxford on the windy evening of 6 May 1954.


Brasher led for the first two laps, reaching the halfway stage in 1 minute 58 seconds. Chataway then took over, with Bannister on his shoulder until, with half a lap to go, he sprinted into the lead, head rolling and arms waving in his signature running style, pounding down the finishing straight and through the tape before collapsing exhausted into the arms of his supporters.
The winning time was given as 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. The barrier had been broken!


For Roger Bannister, the four-minute mile was right for him. He was already the British record holder for both the mile and 1,500 metres. He knew he had the ability, he just needed to step up his training and find the right conditions for his attempt. Crucially, he also needed to put together the right team to help him achieve his ambition. In Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, he had that team. They led him through the early stages of the race, keeping the pace up, protecting him from the gusty wind. So it was that he became a world record breaker.
Personal bests happen when we take the same steps Roger Bannister took. First, we choose what we want to improve. It’s a good idea for it to be something in which we think we have some potential. It’s the right area of your life. It doesn’t have to be a school subject. It can be a relationship, a hobby, your personality, your knowledge, a skill. Next, you need to put some effort into what you want to achieve. That’s the hard part, isn’t it? Yet, any ambition is surely worth it. No pain, no gain, as the saying goes. Finally, it’s often good to involve others, for their support, advice and company. They’ll also be there to congratulate you when you achieve your new personal best!
Sir Roger Bannister was asked if he considered running the four-minute mile to be his proudest achievement. His reply was, ‘No’. He valued his contribution as a neurologist to research on the human nervous system far more. It’s like that with personal bests, too. We achieve one, but there are always others we can aim for. Ambitions never end.


Time for Reflection

So, maybe today, try not putting yourself first. This might be as simple as holding the door open for someone else or taking the time to listen to a friend who always listens to you or helping out at home rather than leaving everything for your mum and dad to do.


Let’s also think about how we can try to see our place in the grand scheme of things, taking everyone and their talents and needs into account rather than putting ourselves first.

Scripture Union offering discount for new Church of England subscribers


Scripture Union is offering a discounted subscription on their Light materials for CofE parishes. The discount which is being offered for a limited period is 20% off an annual subscription, plus a free copy of the accompanying children’s magazine and free delivery.

A special Church of England page has been set up on the Scripture Union website – Check it out!