Youth Ministry and Church News from around the world

News from around the world of youth ministry and church:

Bishop of London on the challenges facing young people

The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, spoke eloquently in the House of Lords last week on the challenges facing young people:

It has been said that young people are our future. They are not – they are our present.  They hold the potential to reimagine the world and see possibilities not obstacles. They are a transformative presence in our present and reshape theirs and our future.

But life is complex for them – the high household income and home ownership rates that were a feature of the 20th century have failed to materialize for younger generations so far in the 21st. Yet, what I recognise more than anything, are the concerns over identity and belonging.

In October BBC Radio 4 announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment, a nationwide survey conducted by BBC Radio 4’s “All In The Mind” in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

The survey results indicated that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.

The young are disproportionately affected by violent crime. This is even truer of those from a Black and minority ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Last month 250 churches across London gathered with youth workers, our schools, the police and young people to ask what we can do together. As part of their place in the local community, churches made a commitment to work in partnership with other organisations to seek to build on the existing work of our schools, after school clubs and youth projects to make their communities’ places where young people can find their identity, feel they belong and are safe.

One of the greatest challenges is how do we fund, recruit and retain good youth workers?  People who will remain in the community as young people grow up.  Role models are highly important for us psychologically, they help to guide us through life during our development and teach us to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives.

I also know from my previous life as a nurse that the only way to tackle these problems is through a whole-system approach, which I understand is now the consensus view.  Funding is central to this, and I welcome the £250 million allocated by the Mayor of London to establish a Violence Reduction Unit.  But, as the Commission on Youth Violence has spoken of, funding is often given in silos, with youth clubs regularly competing against one another for narrow funding streams.  I understand that the Commission’s final report is forthcoming, and I look forward to reading its findings.

I would like to pay particular testament to the vital youth work which is happening in places of worship and community halls across the country. In part of my own Diocese, in the London Borough of Camden, where according to the End Child Poverty coalition, 40% of children live in poverty, St Mary’s Primrose Hill’s youth workers mentor more than 20 young people a week, and undertake multiple prison visits a month.  The likes of St Mary’s are working hard to give our young people the hope that they deserve.

One of the wonderful characteristic of London is its diversity; it is multi faith and multi-racial yet at the same time we have seen a growth in people feeling marginalized – but I believe that we have more in common than divides us.

I wish to end my remarks today by reminding noble Lords that there is reason to be hopeful. Earlier this year I attended a youth Iftar – an opportunity for young people from a range of religions to celebrate that diversity, and to discover new things about each other.  Our conversations planted seeds which will build community bonds and friendships.  It also helped us to learn to value each other, to help build the peaceful and just society that all our religions seek. I reflected that this type of grand vision begins by taking such simple steps towards each other – but sometime we need to help each other to do it.

I am grateful that one of the most influential Bishop’s has taken time to share about the challenges young people face, and some of the brilliant work youth workers in the church do.

Tribalism v Unity

I loved the blog post by DigitalNun on whether or not humanity is Descending into Tribalism Again? I felt like it hit the nail on the head.  We’re currently in a place where extremist rhetoric seems to be the norm in the Western world:

  • Trump’s daily hate and vitriol represents a uniquely toxic style of leadership to a Western democracy.
  • The rise of the extreme right in mainland Europe
  • The large protests in Paris turning into violence.
  • The ridiculous arguing and quarreling each day in and around Parliament over Brexit
  • The racism shared in various football stadiums around the country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called in the House of Lords on the need for reconciliation after a “week of deep division” over Brexit.  The Most Rev Justin Welby said it was “central to our future” as a country that the divisions were healed.

The Archbishop, speaking in the House of Lords, called on the Government to establish a “reconciliation unit” which would work across Whitehall departments and with humanitarian organisations and faith groups to bring people together.  He said:

“This has been a week of deep division, and reconciliation will be something that, although applied to foreign policy in this debate, must become central to our future in this country.

“I hold firm to the belief that we can create a society where mutual flourishing is possible, disagreeing well is central and respecting the difference is paramount.”

“Reconciliation is needed before, during and after conflict, preemptive reconciliation is essential.”

“I think it was Bill Shankly who said ‘I teach my lads to get their retaliation in first’; we need to learn to get our reconciliation in first.”

“Reconciliation happens from the top of society down, from the bottom of society up and from the middle of society out. It must include women, youth and minorities. If any group is left out, peace is not sustainable.”

“What is needed is a joined-up approach to reconciliation, straddling humanitarian, economic, social, ethic, cultural, political, spiritual and religious factors in which different departments of Government work together under the umbrella of a joint reconciliation unit.”

The Church of England bishops have issued an unusual joint statement, saying that they are praying for UK politicians and “national unity” following turbulence over Brexit:

In the light of this week’s turbulent events, the bishops of the Church of England pray for national unity – and courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians.

We call on the country to consider the nature of our public conversation. It is time to bring grace and generosity back to our national life.

At the heart of the Christian message is Jesus’ command to love our neighbour. This includes those with whom we agree and disagree – at home, in Europe, and further afield. We urge everyone – our political leaders and all of us – to bring magnanimity, respect and reconciliation to our national debate.

There is now an urgent need for the United Kingdom to recover a shared vision and identity to help us find a way through the immediate challenges.

Regardless of what happens next with Brexit, the Church of England, alongside many other churches and other agencies striving for the common good, will be at the heart of local communities; educating one million children, providing 33,000 social action projects and running 16,000 churches across the country. Above all else, we will continue to support the most vulnerable and share Christ’s love with all.

This is the Advent season. As we reflect and await Christmas in joyful anticipation, we have faith in Christ to show us all the way of hope.

Christmas feel good story

In 2013 a teenager collected hundreds of supermarket vouchers to buy £600 worth of shopping for 4p so he could give the food to families:

Jordon Cox, 16, scoured endless websites and magazines and gathered hundreds of coupons for dozens of products.  After spending hours each day searching the internet for coupons, he managed to collect 470, which he took to his local supermarket, and filled three trolleys with food and household items.  The bill came to £572.16, but once the coupons were factored in the bill was reduced to just 4p – a saving of 99.81 per cent.  The teenager, of Brentwood in Essex, donated all his food to the charity Doorstep which gives food to disadvantaged families.

He said:

“I read an article that said a thousandth of the UK population are unable to eat this Christmas because they don’t have any money.  I decided wanted to help as many people as I can, and to also show that it’s possible to shop very cheaply, if you know how.  It’s not an exact science, so you can never really work out ahead of time how much the total is going to be. I was stunned when it came up as just 4p.”

He started his Christmas shopping project on December 1 and scoured hundreds of in-store magazines and websites for money off and cash back coupons.  His shop, at Tesco Brent Cross, ended with an hour stop at the checkout to unload his items which included 200 packets of biscuits and 60 packs of butter.

He said:

“The lady at the checkout had worked at Tesco for 19 years, and she said she’d never seen anything like it before. I had a big crowd. I felt like a celebrity.  My heart was pounding and the adrenaline was pumping when we got to the till. So much could have gone wrong.  I could have left some coupons at home, or not read the terms and conditions properly. Some of them might have expired too.”

Vicky Fox, who works at Doorstep, said families who he had helped out were overwhelmed by the donation. She said:

“I’d call his gift a great and generous act of a young man and what he did made a real difference.  He’s made a really difference to families who work with us to survive on extremely low incomes and do need the help.  He made such a different to people living on the breadline.”

He bought:

  • 20 packs of frozen Yorkshire puddings
  • 20 jam roly polys
  • 80 packs of butter
  • 23 packs of Quorn mince
  • Four Gressingham poussin.
  • 40 black puddings
  • 200 packets of biscuits
  • 23 blocks of hard cheese
  • 20 pots of Yeo Valley organic yoghurt
  • 19 bottles of fruit juice.
  • 10 boxes of Paxo stuffing
  • 40 bottles of Anchor whipped cream
  • 15 bags of frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 4 packs of After Eight mints
  • 15 Covent Garden Soups.
  • 10 bags of Florette Salad
  • 36 packs of Cauldron tofu, vegetarian sausages and falafel
  • Crumble mix
  • Haribo sweets

Youth Ministry and Church News from around the world

News from around the world of youth ministry and the Church:

 

 

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

  • Care Leaver Covenant: Children’s and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced a scheme to raise the career aspirations and improve the life skills of care leavers. The Care Leaver Covenant has been signed by more than 50 businesses, charities and government departments in England who have committed to provide work based opportunities to young people leaving the care system. The scheme aims to create 10,000 work opportunities for care leavers over the next 10 years.  For further information check out the Care Leaver Covenant website and see the pledges from government departments.
  • Online Safety: Childnet International has produced guidance for parents and carers on looking after the digital wellbeing of children and young people. This includes having an awareness of how being online can make children and young people feel, and how they can look after themselves and others when online. The guidance includes: age specific information about how children and young people are interacting with the internet; top tips to support young people at this age; and ideas to help start a conversation about digital wellbeing.
  • Loneliness Strategy: The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a strategy setting out the government’s approach to tackling loneliness in England – A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness – laying the foundations for change. The strategy refers to loneliness experienced by children and young people and states that the new subjects of relationships education for primary schools and relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary schools, due to become compulsory in all schools in England in September 2020, will emphasise the value of social relationships. The guidance content for teachers will highlight the impact of loneliness, particularly on mental health.
  • Child trafficking: Europol has published a report on child trafficking in the European Union. Findings from a study of almost 600 intelligence contributions reported to Europol by member states between 2015 and 2017 include: traffickers active in the EU target underage victims mainly for sexual exploitation; the majority of non- EU networks reported to Europol involved Nigerian organised crime groups which traffic female children and women to be sexually exploited; trafficking and exploitation of male children, especially for sexual exploitation, remains an under-reported phenomenon at EU level.
  • Modern slavery: The Home Office has published an annual report on modern slavery in the UK giving an overview of modern slavery and how the UK has responded to it over the last 12 months. The report finds that 2,121 potential child victims of modern slavery were referred to the national referral mechanism (NRM) in 2017. The NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for agencies involved in a trafficking case to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.
  • Knife Crime: The Guardian reports that figures obtained from nine of the NHS’s 11 regional major trauma centres in England that treat adults and children show that they dealt with 2,278 victims of serious knife crime in 2017-18, with cases involving under-18s increasing by 24.4% since 2015-16.
  • Kinship Care: Grandparents Plus has published a report looking at the challenges faced by kinship carers – grandparents and other family members – who have taken on the care of children who aren’t able to live with their parents. Findings from responses to a survey from 1,139 kinship carers across the UK show that the most common reasons for children living with respondents include: parental drug or alcohol misuse (51%), abuse and/or neglect (54%), a parent being unable to cope (39%), and domestic violence (31%). Carers also report that 54% of the children in their care have special needs, of which 85% have emotional or behavioural problems.

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Children’s access to healthy food: The Food Foundation has released a report analysing Public Health England’s (PHE) Eatwell guide, finding that 3.7 million children in the UK live in households for whom a healthy diet is increasingly unaffordable. Families earning less than £15,860 would need to spend 42% of after-housing income on food to meet the costs of the Government’s nutrition guidelines. The report calls for a national measurement of food insecurity in the UK.

Parental responsibility: guidance: The Department for Education has published guidance to help schools and local authorities in England understand and deal with issues relating to parental responsibility as recognised by education law, in particular in situations where parental responsibility can be confusing or unclear.

Young carers: Coram has published an evaluation of the Young carers in schools Programme, a free England-wide initiative delivered by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society aimed at improving the identification and support of young carers in schools.  The published report, A better relationship with learning: an evaluation of the young carers in schools programme, involved an online survey of 103 schools involved in the programme, 14 interviews with schools and other stakeholders, and two focus groups with young carers. Findings include: the introduction of the programme resulted in the identification of an increased number of young carers; 85% of schools reported that young carers were demonstrating increased wellbeing; 83% reported increased happiness and 83% reported increased confidence.

Mental health policy in England: The House of Commons Library has published a briefing on mental health policy in England. The briefing includes reference to services for children and young people.

Children and young people’s mental health networks: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced the creation of eight mental health networks to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address mental health research questions including: health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health; social isolation; youth and student mental health; and domestic and sexual violence.

In the service of youth – making waves in youth work: This year’s Institute for Youth Work conference is taking place in Brighton on the 10th November, it will be an opportunity to both celebrate Youth Work Week and the conference theme: coastal youth work.  The conference is being co-hosted by the University of Brighton, and consequently one of the aims of the conference is to create a short paper on the unique nature of coastal youth work.

Suicide data from the UK and what does this mean for suicide prevention?  The latest data shows that there were 5,821 suicides registered in 2017 in the UK, and the number and rate has decreased for the third year in the row. The decrease has mainly occurred in men, and the picture is different for women with the number of suicides remaining stable. However, men still account for three quarters of all suicides. Also, rates are not uniformly decreasing for all groups of men; rates in some age groups are increasing, for example men aged 45-49.

Commission on Religious Education

The Commission on Religious Education has published its final report.

The Final Report of the Commission on Religious Education, Religion and Worldviews: the way forward.  A national plan for RE, has been published. It sets out a National Plan for RE comprising of 11 recommendations, and calls on the Government to consider and adopt it.

The National Plan is built around a National Entitlement which sets out what all pupils up to the end of Year 11, in all publicly funded schools, should be entitled to be taught.  The National Entitlement reflects a new and inclusive vision for the subject, fully embracing the diversity and richness of religious and non-religious worldviews.  It will ensure a strong academic basis for the subject in all schools.  The National Plan provides for flexibility of approach in the translation of the National Entitlement into programmes of study in schools, ensuring that Headteachers are able to choose the approach that is most appropriate for their pupils.

There is a long and detailed Press Release which gives all the background information.  There is both the Full Report and an Executive Summary.

Responding to the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s Final Report, The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, said:

“This report calls for a new vision for Religious Education (RE) which is vital if we are to equip children for life in the modern world where religion and belief play such important roles. It is also timely given the falling numbers of students taking RE at GCSE and A level following the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc).

“The report articulates well the need to recruit and train RE teachers who are resourced and supported effectively. It also makes significant recommendations for structural change in the way RE is determined. Today, most people’s experience of religion and belief is national and global, so we support the move away from a local determination of the subject. We believe this will help pupils make sense of religion and belief as it is lived today and this proposed change is educationally valid and would bring RE into line with all other curriculum subjects.

“We fully support the policy of developing a Statement of Entitlement to RE and are pleased to see the Commission endorsing an approach which we already use in Church of England schools. However, the Commission’s proposed Statement of Entitlement requires further work if it is to ensure that children and young people develop religious and theological literacy as part of their knowledge and understanding. We look forward to playing our part in working with the education community to achieve this and building an irresistible consensus of agreement about the subject.

Other media reports include:

Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

One in eight young people without degrees work in graduate jobs: The ONS publishes research showing that in 2017, 12% of non-graduates (327,303) aged 22 to 29 were working in a graduate job – defined as a role where the tasks typically require knowledge and skills gained through higher education. This compares with 54% of graduates (1,273,336) in the same age group who had a graduate job.

Call for young people to join NSPCC online safety group: The NSPCC is looking for young people aged 13-18 to join their online safety advisory group, to ensure young people’s views and experiences inform NSPCC campaigns, policy work and projects to help keep children safe online. Taking part will include face to face and online discussions about issues from gaming to online grooming. If you work in a school and are interested in your pupils getting involved, please email ParticipationUnit@NSPCC.org.uk. The deadline for young people to apply is Friday 21st September.

Keeping children safe in education: The Department for Education (DfE) statutory guidance for schools and colleges in England on Keeping children safe in education comes into force on 3 September 2018. The guidance includes: changes to information for all staff; the management of safeguarding; and a new section covering child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment. Annex H of the guidance provides a table of all changes.

Child Poverty: The House of Commons library has published a briefing paper setting out information on the levels and rates of poverty, including child poverty, in the UK. Figures show that in 2016/17 4.1 million children – 30% of all children – were in relative low income households after housing costs, up 100,000 from the previous year. Projections indicate that the proportion of children in relative low income households is expected to increase to 37% in 2021/22 based on incomes after housing costs.

Child Migrants: The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper giving an overview of the policy and practice of immigration detention in the UK. The briefing includes information on: unaccompanied children, at risk adults, pregnant women and families with children.

Children’s play and physical activity: The Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report looking at the importance to children of play and physical activity. Recommendations for government include: putting out-of-school activity at the heart of the plan to reduce obesity; and focussing on play and activity in policy responses to challenges faced by children, including mental health issues and excessive use of technology.

Good childhood report: The Children’s Society has published its seventh in-depth report on children and young people’s wellbeing in the UK. The report uses data from the Millennium Cohort Survey on the lives of more than 11,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01. In 2015, when the children were 14, they were asked whether they had hurt themselves on purpose in any way in the past year. Responses show that: 22% of girls and 9.2% of boys had self-harmed.

Transgender foster carers and adopters: An article in Community Care outlines tips to help social workers supporting transgender foster carers and adopters. Good practice tips include: using inclusive gender neutral language wherever possible in written materials; and not making assumptions or having fixed views about what is ‘normal’ for transgender people.