The Optimal Length for Social Media Updates [Infographic]

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Many of us use social media, but these days if you want people to engage it is so important that you make sure your posts are the optimal length.

Check out this infographic from Buffer to help you know what is the optimal length for not just social media updates but also for hashtags, blog posts and titles, and even subject lines for emails.

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Diocese of Winchester appoints new Diocesan Youth Adviser

It’s great to hear that Sarah has been appointed to be the new Diocesan Youth Adviser – I’m looking forward to working with her over the coming months and years:

Sarah Long

We’re pleased to confirm that Sarah Long has been appointed Youth Adviser in the School of Mission, and will start work on 7 September 2015.

Sarah has been working most recently with Romance Academy, a national charity that helps young people both inside and outside the church to explore how to build healthy relationships. In addition to engaging directly with young people, she has had the pleasure of working with youth workers and parents across the UK to tackle tricky topics well with their teenagers.

Prior to this she was Youth director at St Paul’s Church, Camberley, heading up youth work in line with their vision “Living Christ in Camberley”.

Sarah says:

“It’s a real privilege to be joining the diocese and the School of Mission. I’m really looking forward to meeting and working with all those involved in youth ministry, as we begin to discover together what the 4 Strategic Priorities look like amongst the young people of the Winchester diocese.”

Growing Messy Leaders training day

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CPAS brings their extensive experience of growing leaders in churches to help Messy Churches. BRF’s Messy Church team and CPAS are working together to help Messy Church team members and leaders of all ages become better leaders through team-building work and leadership theory and reflective practice. These hands-on, fun, fast-moving and action-packed training days will give to those aged 9-99 (and older if required) the opportunity to understand more of the practicalities of leading a Messy Church, develop their teamwork and reflect on their inner relationship with God and those around them.

Take your Messy team to a different level. Come as a team! Bring your leaders young and old! A fun, inspirational, useful and paradigm-shifting all-age training day.

When? Saturday 14 November 2015
Where? St Paul’s Church, Oak Rd, Bursledon, Southampton, Hampshire SO31 8DT
Cost? £10 per adult, children 9-16 free.

Click here for full details on the Messy Church website

Getting stuck between social care and CAMHS

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The UK has a world-class public sector, education is good, and the NHS is outstanding. But one area that consistently seems to let young people down is those who get stuck in-between social care and Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

 

In our austerity climate there have been cuts to both children’s social and the CAMHS service. In addition both services are locally using more agency staff to cover the current gaps they have within their teams. This certainly provides a lack of consistency for young people and their families, but I believe that the problem is not solved by more money, and capacity staffing. Simply pouring additional resource into a dysfunctional system would not automatically produce the best results for our vulnerable children and young people. Instead it is time to consider a radical overhaul of how, when and by whom child protection and statutory mental health services are provided.

 

Too often when a child is suspected of having mental health concerns such as depression, suicide, ADHD, on the ASD spectrum then social care, often believe it is the responsibility of CAMHS to take the lead with the family. Yet CAMHS, often rightly, will point out that whilst the mental health concerns has a significant impact there are other major factors at play in the life of the young person. Instead of two agencies working together to support a young person and their family they spend their time blaming cuts on the lack of staff and resources and spend meetings with other professionals passing the buck as to why they can not help the young person.

 

All this does is lead to a situation where a young person who is on the border of a Tier 2 to 3 threshold is propelled to the top end of Tier 3 if not into Tier 4 as no agency takes responsibility to support and invest in the young person and their family.

 

I can think of several families that I’ve worked with for whom this tension between social care and CAMHS has actually worsened the situation, and certainly not helped the young person.

 

I sit in meetings where I want to stop and shout: “Enough is enough!” Surely we can find a way to do something between us to support this young person and their family.

 

As is often the case though in a large organisation the staff at the meetings don’t have the power to be able to change the situation – what we need is county managers and health commissioners working together for the benefit of young people and their families and enabling their staff to do the same.

Clearing 2015 – A step-by-step guide

UCAS clearing

Around 300,000 students will receive their A-level results on Thursday, and like every year, thousands of students will suddenly find themselves thrown into the Clearing system.

If you are among them, remember – ending up in Clearing is no reason to panic. University Clearing is there for anyone who has applied through Ucas but is without a place after receiving their results, whatever the reason.  Over 61,000 students found a university place through Clearing in 2014, according to UCAS – a not-insignificant 9% of all university admissions that year.  So there is a good chance you will too, provided you are flexible and get your research right.

Here is a simple, step-by-step guide to Clearing should you need to get involved on results day:

1. Check Track

On the morning of results day, log in to Track on the UCAS website to see if you are eligible for Clearing. It’s a myth that Track is updated at midnight on results day. Only the Clearing 2015 Vacancy Search goes live at midnight; Track opens at around 8am.  If you’re eligible for Clearing, it will say so and you’ll be provided with a Clearing number which you should take note of so you can proceed (the universities you call up during Clearing will ask you for this).

2. Browse courses

You can browse Clearing 2014 vacancies at any time on results day, but you can’t make a formal choice until around 5.00pm when, if you’re eligible, an “add Clearing choice” button appears on your Track “choices” screen. However, you should call universities or colleges much earlier in the day to secure a provisional offer. Discuss your options with those who know your academic background and have been advising you up to this point. You might also find it helpful to talk to careers advisers on the Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000).

3. Be ready to act fast

Vacancies can be filled extremely quickly, and if you’re not around at the start of Clearing places on your chosen courses may have gone by the time you call the universities or colleges. Admissions staff will want to speak to you, not your parents or advisers.

4. Prepare to contact admissions staff

When you have found a course you like, call the university’s admissions office to confirm that places are still available and discuss the course demands. You should prepare for that phone call as seriously as for a job interview. Be ready to ask tutors intelligent questions about the course requirements, and make sure you are a good fit for them. You might want to ask how the course is taught, what assessment model is used, what materials you’ll need to supply, and about the accommodation arrangements. Admissions staff will ask for your personal ID and Clearing number to confirm they can consider you in Clearing (you’ll find these on the “welcome” and “choices” pages in Track). They can then view your complete application immediately on Ucas’s secure online system.

5. Add a Clearing choice in Track

If an admissions tutor offers you a provisional place, you’ll probably be given a deadline for making a formal commitment to the course by adding a Clearing choice on Track. You can only make one choice at a time. Before accepting an offer, research the course requirements and university carefully. You are committing to years of study and should feel confident that you’re doing the right thing.

6. Confirm or pick another course

Ucas tells the institution that you have entered its details on Track. If you are successful, you will see the acceptance in the “choices” section and Ucas will send you a letter confirming your place and giving further guidance. If you aren’t successful the “add Clearing choice” button will be reactivated so you can add another choice, and still more if necessary up until October 22. Vacancies in Clearing are a shifting landscape as people turn down offers and places are filled, so keep looking at the lists.

7. Consider applying again next year

If you can’t find a course in Clearing that matches your aspirations you can always apply again for next year. Courses for 2014 are already available to browse on the Ucas website. You can start work on your new application right now, although you won’t be able to submit it until mid-September.

8. Finding university accommodation

Once you’ve found a place through Clearing, the next challenge is sorting your university accommodation. This blog post from NUS will give you some tips on how to get applying (and why you really don’t need an ensuite bathroom…).

John Orchard a friend who is the Education Outreach Officer at the University of Essex, wrote some comments from his perspective as someone who works at a university and will be answering clearing phone calls this week:

  • It is SO important to read up on courses and universities BEFORE making any phone calls. We don’t mind answering specific questions but it’s really important that students have a good idea of what they’re applying for before they ring.
  • If you’re applying to a university through clearing find out if they have a clearing open day or tours running and make it a priority to go if at all possible.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can Sometimes taking time out to reflect and re-applying the following year is the best thing. Rushed decisions are more likely to be wrong decisions.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can”

A’ Level Results – how to help your child

Exam results

Here are some top tips on dealing with disappointing results:

For parents:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the results, either before or after.
  • Don’t shy away from the disappointment your child is feeling. Encourage him or her to talk about it.
  • Keep talking about the many possible future paths available.
  • Emphasise how hard they’ve tried and the work they’ve put in – and why this shows they have qualities that can take them far.
  • Explain – preferably with real examples – that many successful people have taken “a zig-zag route” to reach their goals.

For students:

  • If you’re worried, don’t wait till the last minute. Ring up and ask for an appointment with your tutor or careers adviser to look at options in case you drop a grade, so you have a real plan B. Find out too if there’s someone you can talk to at school or college in the days and weeks after results.
  • Be aware of the hype around A-levels day – TV images of ecstatic students, for example – which can inflate the importance of the results beyond the reality.
  • Develop a broader perspective on your future – talk to your friends, your family and especially your teachers or tutors, who may be well placed to help you think about alternative but equally rewarding ways forward.
  • Plan to do something positive on results day, whatever your grades. And stay in touch with people, to remind yourself that there is more to life than A-levels.

REBOOT Youth Apologetics Day

Reboot 2015

Once a year, REBOOT meets in the centre of London to explore questions such as ‘How can we know God exists?’, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ and ‘Hasn’t science disproved God?’. REBOOT provides a place for young people from 12-18 years old, with or without any faith or church background, to raise their objections and investigate different perspectives.

Through its annual conference, online resources, and speaking invitations, REBOOT aims to equip young people to understand and be able to answer some of these big questions for themselves.

Our team from the Zacharias Trust and the OCCA [the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics] want you to have confidence in what you believe, and the chance to be honest about your doubts. Since its launch in 2013, REBOOT has welcomed over 1000 young people, and this year we are excited to see more of you than ever!

When?

Saturday 26th September, All day, timings to come!

Where? 

Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3DW

 

There is no Plan B – why the church must help children disciple other children

No Plan B

An article from Aim Lower Journal:

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. What is the real solution?

This article draws from There is no Plan B – a document sponsored by the 4-14 movement and Compassion International (click to access your FREE copy)

Erikson’s Theory of Psychological Development postulates a significant shift in development when one reaches adolescence (11-18 years old). Preceding adolescence, development depends on what is done to a person; at adolescence, development depends primarily upon what a person does. At this stage, adolescents begin to develop strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes and friends.

Recent Barna Group research on reasons why young Christians leave church focused on those who were regular churchgoers during their early teens and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15. The research revealed that the number one reason our youth leave church is because “churches seem overprotective.”

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. Churches thought that teens left the church because of the Xbox and the varied entertainment available to them, so, to compete, more resources were invested on entertainment only to discover that the exodus continued. What children and youth need is a personal connection with high ideals, causes and worthy challenges; to be a force they believe can change the world.

Just recently, Catholic Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña of San Juan, Philippines, urged children and youth to actively participate in the missionary endeavors of the church:
You young people and children have the energy, enthusiasm, courage and the ability to take the risk to step forward and say, ‘we want to be in that boat also; we want to be with Jesus and respond to the challenge of mission,’ said de la Peña, who is also chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Mission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The prelate also told the youth that as the future of the nation, this is the right time for them to take the opportunity to engage actively in the mission of the Church. (CBCP News, Monday, February 11, 2013)379.

You can read the whole article here.

DiscipleKit: Discipleship resources developed by CPAS

DiscipleKit

CPAS have designed a new tool called DiscipleKit; an easy-to-use website bringing together the latest discipleship resources in one place.

It has the aim of providing you with the information that you need about discipleship resources to decide which are right for your church and groups. There are over 130 resources on the site with more to come, from online course manuals to DVDs and everything in between

They say:

“We are really excited to welcome you to DiscipleKit. We hope you enjoy looking around the site, and discovering some great resources to energise your journey of discipleship. Every resource has the information you need, a link through to obtain it, and an extensive review which will help you choose the one you want.

We are beginning with a focus on resources for small groups for Adults, Youth and Children – for those who are Enquiring about Christianity, Beginning the Christian journey, or Growing along the way. But we have great plans for the site, which include resources for individuals, and additional themed resources such as those for marriage, parenting and seniors. We would love your feedback and suggestions, so do join our DiscipleKit community and tell us what you would like to see included.”

Click here to check out the site.

Survey of England’s children

Children's World Report

Children’s Worlds survey has been conducting research across the world understanding children in a range of countries.  The latest survey for England has recently been published, based on research from late 2013 and early 2014.

There’s a huge wealth of statistics in the 38 page report which is worth digging into.  Here’s how the research sample was taken:

The England sample was designed to achieve a nationally representative sample of children aged 8 to 9 years old, aged 10 to 11 years old and aged 12 to 13 years old with at least 1,000 children in each group. The primary sampling unit was schools. Separate samples were drawn for Years 4 and 6 (primary school education) and Year 8 (secondary school education). Both samples followed the same methodology. First, a complete list of schools in England was stratified into five groups by the proportion of children receiving free school meals (a very rough indicator of economic prosperity). These groups were approximate quintiles (based on numbers of pupils in each stratum). The approximation was because of a lack of precision in the data available on free school meal entitlement. Within each stratum schools were selected randomly with probabilities proportional to size (number of pupils), with the aim of achieving a target of at least eight schools per stratum. Within each selected school, one class group (not grouped on pupil ability) was randomly selected.

The Dangers of Social Media for ‘Missing’ Children

Last week I read a brilliant blog post on the dangers of posting about missing children on social media, over at Barefoot Social Work, do check it out:

Missing Children

I’ve seen a couple of ‘Missing Child’ posts on Facebook this week and I wanted to explain why I won’t be sharing them. They are always heart wrenching pleas for help. Some of them, I have no doubt, are genuine. I know this as a quick search on Google and I find that the police are also concerned for their whereabouts and are actively searching for them with the support of authorised charities and agencies. However, there are some that are not what they seem*.

Some are simply a hoax and some of them are not ‘missing’ at all. The child may have been adopted due to the risk of significant harm; they may be in hiding with their other parent as a result of serious domestic violence within the home; or the whole family may be in police protection and the concerned ‘father’ is not who he claims to be. Furthermore, ‘missing adults’ may wish for their location to remain anonymous, and they do have that right which we must respect. As virtual strangers we do not know the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’ and we should trust in the expertise of professionals to get the full picture.

In my current role we will share posts from Hampshire Constabulary but we haven’t shared other posts until we can verify the information for exactly the reasons outlined above.

The Cost – Brother Andrew

Sixty years ago a man called Andrew took the risk of saying ‘Yes’ to God. It led him to venture behind the Iron Curtain where he discovered persecuted Christians, people who were truly counting the cost of following Christ. ‘Brother Andrew’ went on to found Open Doors, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians in over 50 countries today – including thousands of Christians in Syria.

As this short film weaves between the story of Brother Andrew’s early adventures of faith and the story of the church in Syria today, we are presented with the same choice: are we ready to say ‘Yes’ to God, whatever the cost?

A great film celebrating sixty years since Brother Andrew said ‘Yes’ to smuggling the Bible into countries where it was banned. What a legend!