Pledge to pray

Archbishop Justin Welby:

The most important thing I’ve ever done is become a follower of Jesus. I want everyone to hear his voice calling to them. That’s why I’m praying for people to know his life-transforming love. Will you join me and Christians around the world and #Pledge2Pray as part of Thy Kingdom Come 2017?

Sign up now and encourage your church, friends and family to get involved: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/

 

Young Carer’s Day: the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities

A group of young carers have made a hard-hitting film showing how stressful it can be juggling responsibilities both at home and in school.

The film, which was made by Fixers, the charity which gives young people a voice, is being launched today on Young Carer’s Day.

You can watch it here:

Jade Dyer, 17, has been the primary carer for her mum for the past four years and takes the lead role in the film.  It shows her being reprimanded by a teacher for failing to get an essay in on time as she struggles to look after her mum who has Grave’s disease – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the body.

Jade, from Bourne End, Bucks, says:

‘Her illness means her moods can be very up and down – when she’s down I need to be there to console her and give her support.  She might not be able to get out of bed if she’s feeling like that, so I’ll need to do household tasks like cooking dinner.  If she doesn’t take her medication or is particularly unwell she becomes quite immobile, so if she collapses I need to be there to help her up.’

There were times when the teenager struggled to cope with school.  She says:

‘My secondary school attendance was very low, and the teachers didn’t realise what I was going through so there was a huge lack of understanding.  My grades were affected and teachers could be quite harsh about it.’

Jade, who is now studying for her A-levels at Henley College, plans to show the film at teacher training events.  She says:

‘We hope the film will show teachers just how much we have to do – we have a lot more on our plates than the average student and getting some leniency when it comes to things like essay deadlines could really help us.

‘Anyone can be in a caring role and it’s important that teachers are patient and understanding so they can help them. There are a lot of intelligent people who could miss out otherwise.  Focus on what that child’s needs are and help them in any way you can.’

 

Study finds Sex & Relationships Education doesn’t reduce STIs and teen pregnancy

Young Couple Relaxing Near River Enjoying Sunny Day

The following is excerpted from an online article posted on LifeSiteNews:

A new peer-reviewed study of multiple “sexual and reproductive health” educational programs in several countries finds no evidence of improved health outcomes in any program studied.

According to the authors of the study, “School-based interventions for preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy in adolescents,” published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, “There is little evidence that educational curriculum-based programs alone are effective in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents.”

The study’s authors reviewed eight studies that examined sex-education programs in schools in Africa, Latin America and Europe with a total of 55,157 participants, and performed randomized controlled trials on their data. They found the programs had no measurable impact on the rate of sexually-transmitted diseases among participants or rates of pregnancy.

“In these trials, the educational programs evaluated had no demonstrable effect on the prevalence of HIV or other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections),” the authors write, noting that in addition to HIV infection they also looked at results regarding herpes and syphilis. “There was also no apparent effect on the number of young women who were pregnant at the end of the trial,” they add.

The authors note that many studies of adolescent sex-education programs measure the programs’ effectiveness by examining their “effects on knowledge or self-reported behavior” rather than “biological outcomes” such as the rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among program participants. In examining biological outcomes, the authors could find no benefit from such programs.

The findings of the study are consonant with other studies of “comprehensive” sex-education programs that show them to be ineffective or even counterproductive, particularly in comparison with abstinence-only programs.

£18,000 Grants For Charities To Redevelop Their Website

 

The Transform Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the 2017 funding round of its Charity Website Grant Programme, which will be providing £18,000 grants to charities to fund the redevelopment of their website.  If you are a charity interested in receiving funding to redevelop your website then click here to be taken to the Transform Foundation website for more information on the grant programme and how you can apply.

The Transform Foundation is a charity that provides grants and other resources to the charity sector to fund innovative digital projects.  The Charity Website Grant Programme forms part of their wider efforts to support the charity sector in effectively making the transition from traditional forms of fundraising and service delivery towards more digitally focused models.

The 2017 funding round follows the successful pilot funding round in 2016 which funded the development of websites that have already gone on to raise hundreds of thousands pounds online for the successful applicants.

The grant is principally aimed at charities with annual incomes between £500k and £30m, although smaller charities with ambitious plans for digital can also apply.  Larger charities will also be considered for specific project or fundraising sites.

Any type of non-profit organisation may apply, with successful applicants in the past including causes as diverse as community development, disability, education, theatre, mental health, hospices, national heritage, volunteering, family, children & youth, addiction, homelessness, international aid, and arts.

To apply for the grant or find out more details on it, visit the Transform Foundation website at: www.transformfoundation.org.uk

 

Children’s and Young People writing

Key findings about children and young people writing in 2015 from the Literacy Trust, based on a survey of 32,569 children and young people aged 8 to 18, include:

  • Fewer children and young people enjoyed writing in 2015 compared with the previous year, with enjoyment levels dropping from 49.3% in 2014 to 44.8% in 2015.
  • Fewer children and young people wrote something daily outside class in 2015 than in 2014, with daily writing levels decreasing from 27.2% in 2014 to 20.7% in 2015. Daily writing levels also continue to be in stark contrast to daily reading levels, which have increased dramatically over the past couple of years.
  • When asked whether they ever write something that they don’t share with anyone else, nearly half (46.8%) of children and young people said they did.
  • Technology-based formats, such as text messages (68.6%), messages on social networking sites (44.3%) and instant messages (46.2%) continue to dominate the writing that children and young people engaged in outside class in 2015. Notes (3%), letters (25.8%) and lyrics (24.6%) are the most frequently written non-technology formats. With the exception of poems, most formats of writing have again decreased in 2015.
  • Attitudes towards writing have remained unchanged in 2015.

Read the full findings here.

It leaves me reflecting on how we encourage journaling with teenagers in the church.

It’s encouraging to see that 46.8% of children and young people write things that they don’t share with anyone else, but with daily writing outside the classroom dropping substantially from 27.2% in 2014 to 20.7% in 2015 I think we need to look at how we recommend technology-based formats of journaling.

Children’s & youth work links

Links from around the world of children’s and youth work:

What happened when 9 teens gave up their mobile phones for a week: anyone who has worked with teenagers for more than 5 minutes know how connected to their mobiles they are.  So what happens if they were separated from their mobile lifelines for a full week?

The Smart Talk is a website that helps parents and kids come up with a set of mobile phone rules together, and creates a handy agreement you can print out.  This tool is more than a simple checklist; it’s meant to start conversations between parents and their child.

What I Teach My Students About Alcohol: Austin McCann shares what he taught his young people about drinking alcohol from the Bible.

Teens Tell All: Your Guide To Teen Slang, From Bae To Woke: As part of TODAY’s “Teens Tell All” series, they asked teenagers to enlighten adults about all those mysterious terms they throw out when they talk or message.

Jesus was a Youth Minister: Jesus’ disciples were mainly young men.  This makes Peter the perfect, Biblical example of what it looks like to mentor a teenager!

 

Millennials believe Britain is no longer a Christian country

The Daily Express reports that British millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, believe they no longer live in a Christian country despite thinking religion plays an important role in people’s lives.

A total of 41 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said Britain has “no specific religious identity” in a ComRes poll published to launch the new Faith Research Centre in Westminster.  In contrast, of those aged 65 and over, 74 per cent believe Britain is a Christian country while only 20 per cent think the country has no specific religious identity.

Katie Harrison, director of the new Faith Research Centre at ComRes, the public policy research consultancy, said:

“In some of the questions we asked, adults aged between 18-24 and adults aged 65 plus answered at opposite ends of the scale, indicating marked differences between generations in perceptions of religion and belief.

“This is consistent with some of the projects we’ve recently been commissioned to carry out.

“We’re seeing a strong interest in understanding the attitudes and needs of people in their 20s, especially in our faith research work.”

 

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation – Best Practice

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognised as a severe form of violence against women and girls and a human rights violation.   The Tackling FGM Initiative aimed to strengthen community-based prevention work to reduce the risk of girls and young women of undergoing FGM.

FGM prevalence in the UK is difficult to estimate due to the hidden nature of the practice. However, the latest data on prevalence in England and Wales (City University London and Equality Now, 2015) estimates that: approximately 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM; and approximately 127,000 women who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM. In addition, approximately 10,000 girls (under the age of 15) who have migrated to England and Wales may have undergone FGM.

Ending FGM in the UK requires multi-agency working, including involving FGM-affected communities. Communities Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the UK Best Practice Guide documents, develops and highlights best practice that Community Based Oragnisations have developed. This Guide complements the statutory FGM Multi-Agency Guidelines which professionals must have regard to, and is aimed at:

  • Community based organisations working on or planning to work on FGM
  • Local authorities to support the development of good quality partnerships and joint working with affected communities and the Community Based Oragnisations who work with them
  • Professionals charged with a legal duty to respond to FGM e.g. health professionals, maternity services, teachers
  • Commissioners and local safeguarding leads, to understand how to work with communities and recognise them as assets to end FGM

The Practical Guidance for FGM Engagement section is divided into three key parts: Prevention; Access to Mental Health Care and Support; and Working with Statutory Professionals and local authorities – including FGM case work. Each of the three chapters details the rationale for each target group, outlines activities conducted by Community Based Oragnisations to reach this group and then highlights best practice.

Vacancy – Above Bar Church

Above Bar Church in Southampton is looking to appoint a Post-Graduate Student Children’s Minister:

STEP TRAINEE (CHILDREN)

Are you passionate about children’s ministry? Are you experienced in working with children and eager to develop your skills? Are you a servant-hearted, creative and flexible team player who is able to work alongside others in leading children’s ministry? Would you like to combine training within a large city-centre evangelical church with studying for a post-graduate degree in children’s ministry?

If so, we would love to support you in loving God, following Jesus, and sharing hope within the context of children’s ministry.

Above Bar Church is looking for a Children’s Ministry Trainee to start in September 2017. This is a two or three-year position, which comprises of approximately 21 hrs/wk serving in the church and 14 hrs/wk studying (typically) an MA in Children’s and Family work.
Bursaries, hosting, and funding to cover fees are available if needed and will be discussed with the successful applicant.

For more information or to apply, please email office@abovebarchurch.org.uk

Deadline for applications is 31st Jan 2017.

Teenagedom

A few people recently tweeted about Hadley Freeman’s article in the Guardian on how ‘I was not good at being a teenager. But I do have some advice.’  For anyone working with young people it’s well worth a read.

It concludes with three pieces of wisdom: “But I do have three pieces of advice for making it pass a little more painlessly. 

  • First, create something. Write, draw, bake, knit, make a magazine, design a video game – whatever, it doesn’t matter, as long as it comes from you. Just make something that wasn’t there before, so you can look at it and say, “That came out of my brain, my fingers, me. Without me, that would not exist.” One of the best ways to learn who you are internally is to find out what kind of mark you can make externally.
  • Second, do things just for you. I’m sure you’re sick of condescending oldsters like me wagging their fingers at you about “the selfie generation”, which is just our way of trying to say how worried we are about you coming of age at a time when your worthiness is measured in likes. But try to do as much as possible just for yourself, not external validation: make something and don’t Instagram it. Go to a gig on your own, and don’t Facebook it. Validate yourself.
  • Finally, remember that you are currently wearing teenager goggles. This means that everything you are experiencing is being refracted through the crazy hazy hormonal moshpit in your head, as well as the various injustices that come with that time of life when you’re not sure if you’re an adult or a child and no one else is, either”

Do go check out the full article here.

Reports from the UK government on Domestic Violence

The Home Office have launched a range of papers recently on the theme of domestic violence and abuse.

The changes to the definition of domestic raise awareness that young people in the 16 to 17 age group can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse.

By including this age group the government hopes to encourage young people to come forward and get the support they need, through a helpline or specialist service.

A young people’s panel will be set up by the NSPCC. The panel will consist of up to 5 members between the age of 16 and 22, who will work with the government on domestic violence policy and wider work to fight violence against women and girls.

Here are some of the key recent publications: