Charity chief urges Prime Minister to create CSE national inquiry

Charity 4Children is calling for a stand-alone national inquiry into the extent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the wake of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

For Attila

4Children chief executive Anne Longfield has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to make the case for why a national inquiry is needed following the publication last week of the Jay report that found 1,400 children and young people had been victims of systematic sexual abuse over 16 years in Rotherham

The government has vowed to incorporate the findings from Rotherham into its recently announced historical child abuse inquiry, but Longfield argues this gives a “false impression” the issue is in the past when many believe CSE is a growing and widespread problem.   4Children is also concerned that the full extent of systemic neglect and agency failings identified in the Jay report will not be fully scrutinised or addressed if it is part of a wider inquiry.

In her letter, Longfield says the extent and severity of the Rotherham abuse merits a “high-level, time-limited, Prime Ministerial-led inquiry” that should focus on what went wrong in Rotherham; the extent of CSE across the UK; what needs to be done to tackle the problem; and how agencies and communities need to change in order for allegations of CSE to be taken more seriously.  

Longfield said:

“We are calling on the Prime Minister to establish a stand-alone inquiry to reveal the true extent of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and other areas and answer questions about how and why services continue to fail our children. Adding it to the remit of an historical abuse inquiry misses the point. This week alone a number of potential new victims have come forward.  

“Perpetrators of these horrific crimes were allowed to continue their abuse for decades because nothing was done to stop them. Yet the key findings from the report – agencies not working together and children not being listened to – are not new ones and government must act now to ensure that children’s voices are never ignored again when abuse of this kind is reported. 

“The full scale of this systemic failure may never be known, but government must act now to carry out an urgent and transparent investigation to listen to and protect children and make sure this never happens again in Rotherham or anywhere else in the UK.

 

Vicar of Baghdad has Hepatitis B

Canon Andrew White

Canon Andrew White, who is commonly known as the Vicar of Baghdad, has confirmed he’s been diagnosed with Hepatitis B.

Writing on his Facebook page he said:

I Have Hepatitis B
I am afraid my results have just come back and I have got positive Hepatitis B. So I think work is out for a while.

Canon Andrew White lives with multiple sclerosis, and has been playing a key role in standing up for Christians in Iraq and has played a major role in publicising the situation for Christians in the country.

Hepatitis B is a type of virus that can infect the liver and symptoms include feeling sick, lack of appetite and flu-like symptoms.  According to the NHS The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis B are able to fight off the virus and fully recover from the infection within a couple of months.

Funny headlines from around the world

news - schoolswork

Some of the more random headlines from the BBC News website over the last week or so:

m4s0n501

Slavery in the New Forest

Little Testwood Farm - slavery

I was shocked and saddened to read this headline: “Eight men rescued from suspected slavery Little Testwood Farm in Calmore“:

POLICE have rescued eight men from a site in Totton following an investigation into potential slavery and servitude.

Officers from Hampshire Constabulary, supported by the National Crime Agency, executed a warrant around 6am today at Little Testwood Farm on Salisbury Road, Calmore.  The men are aged between 21 and 46 and are a mix of Romanian, Latvian and Polish nationalities.  Police also recovered industrial equipment that is believed to have been stolen.

A 27-year-old man from Luton was arrested on suspicion of knowingly holding another person in slavery or servitude and remains in custody.

The men have been taken to a survivor reception centre where they are receiving emotional and practical support. The centre is run by officers from Amberstone, Hampshire Constabulary’s specialist interview support team, with assistance from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Hampshire County Council and the NHS.

Detective Inspector Phil Scrase from Southampton CID said:

“As this morning’s action shows, we’ll take swift action against anyone suspected of exploiting vulnerable members of society for their own gain.  We know that people are being trafficked, exploited and enslaved across the country including here in Hampshire.  I’d urge anyone with concerns, suspicions or information that could help our enquiries to contact us in confidence.  For example, if you’re being offered cheap labour that’s too good to be true for the amount it costs, ask yourself: who’s really paying?”

Anyone with information about slavery, servitude, exploitation or trafficking can call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.  If you don’t want to speak to the police directly, you can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the national slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700

Bishops call for Iraqi Christians to be given asylum in Britain

Aid distributed to Christians in Iraw

The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.

“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…

Word War II veteran disappears for Normandy trip

Bernard Jordan

An 89-year-old WW2 veteran disappeared from his nursing home without saying where he was going and went to France for the D-Day commemorations.

The former mayor of Hove, Bernard Jordan, left the home at 10:30 BST on Thursday, and was reported missing to Sussex Police that evening.  Staff later discovered he had joined other veterans in France and was safe and well at a hotel in Ouistreham.

Earlier, it was believed care home staff stopped him going to the events.  Brighton and Hove police had tweeted: “90 year old veteran reported missing from care home. Turns out they’d said no to him going to #DDay70 but he went anyway #fightingspirit”

Hundreds of veterans have been marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France, with events on the beaches of Normandy.

Bernard Jordan Royal Navy

Mr Jordan, served in the Royal Navy, was mayor of Hove from 1995-96, is a resident of The Pines nursing home in Hove.  The pensioner had gone out wearing a grey raincoat and a jacket underneath with his war medals on, the police force said.  A spokesman said:

“We have spoken to the veteran who called the home today and are satisfied that the pensioner is fine and that his friends are going to ensure he gets back to Hove safely over the next couple of days after the D-Day celebrations finish.  Once the pensioner is home, we will go and have a chat with him to check he is OK.”

Nev Kemp, the police commander for the City of Brighton & Hove, tweeted: “Love this: 89yr old veteran reported missing by care home who said he can’t go to Normandy for #DDay70 remembrance. We’ve found him there!”

Word War II paratrooper recreates his D-day jump at age 93

Jim %22Pee Wee%22 Martin - Paratrooper

World War II veteran Jim “Pee Wee” Martin belonged to the 101st Airborne Division that parachuted into Normandy on the evening of June 5, 1944, just ahead of the D-day landing. He did that same jump again 70 years later, which you might expect to be difficult now that Martin is 93 years old. But to Martin, this time around was easier.

“It didn’t (compare),” Martin said, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

Martin did not jump alone. And he is used to being the oldest paratrooper.

It’s ironic, in a sense, because Martin was among the oldest of his bunch in June 1944 — at 23 years old — surrounded by others who were mere teenagers.

Together, they parachuted onto France’s northern coast in the dark of night not knowing what awaited them. Whatever it was, it would not be friendly or easy, they expected.

“Everybody (was) scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap,” the former paratrooper recalled. “But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That’s the difference.”

Learn more about Martin and his experiences both as a paratrooper in World War II and as a veteran at his Facebook page.

D-Day Memorial

I love this picture from last year’s D-Day Memorial, the “Fallen 9000″ project serves as a reminder of the staggering cost of lost peace.

Normandy beach memorial

A tribute to the roughly 9,000 civilians, Allies and German soldiers alike who lost their lives on D-Day, the project involved the painstaking stenciling of 9,000 silhouettes on the Normandy beach at Arromanches where so much blood was once shed.

Funny headlines from around the world

Some of the more random headlines from the BBC News website over the last week or so:

Is the UK a Christian country? Archbishop Justin Welby responds.

Archbishop Justin Welby

There has been lots of debate in the last couple of weeks surrounding the issue of whether or not the UK is a Christian country, following David Cameron’s article in the Church Times.  Following various responses, Archbishop Justin Welby has written a thought provoking and humorous response to the debate:

History provides as many uncomfortable facts as science. Neither can be ignored if anyone is going to talk sense. Last week, the Prime Minister wrote rather movingly in the Church Times about his sense of this as a Christian country.

It followed up other comments from Cabinet Ministers saying similar things, and finished on Tuesday with a very measured intervention by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, whose own Christian faith is well known.

Judging by the reaction, anyone would think that the people concerned had at the same time suggested the return of the Inquisition (complete with comfy chairs for Monty Python fans), compulsory church going and universal tithes. More than 50 leading atheists wrote to the Telegraph in protest.

It’s all quite baffling and at the same time quite encouraging. Christian faith is much more vulnerable to comfortable indifference than to hatred and opposition. It’s also a variation on the normal “Sword and Grail discovered” stuff that seems to be a feature of Easter week news.

Yet the Prime Minister and other members of the Government have not said anything very controversial. It is a historical fact (perhaps unwelcome to some, but true) that our main systems of ethics, the way we do law and justice, the values of society, how we decide what is fair, the protection of the poor, and most of the way we look at society ……  All have been shaped by and founded on Christianity. Add to that the foundation of many hospitals, the system of universal schooling, the presence of chaplains in prisons, and one could go on a long time. Then there is the literature, visual art, music and culture that have formed our understandings of beauty and worth since Anglo Saxon days.

It is clear that, in the general sense of being founded in Christian faith, this is a Christian country. It is certainly not in terms of regular churchgoing, although altogether, across different denominations, some millions attend church services each week. Others of different backgrounds have also positively shaped our common heritage. But the language of what we are, what we care for and how we act is earthed in Christianity, and would remain so for many years even if the number of believers dropped out of sight (which they won’t, in my opinion).

The atheist protesters are wrong to argue that expressing confidence in the country’s Christian identity fosters alienation and division in our society. Indeed, it is significant that non-Christian faith leaders – among them Anil Bhanot of the Hindu Council UK, Farooq Murad of the Muslim Council of Britain and Lord Indarjit Singh of the Network of Sikh Organisations –  have spoken out in support of Mr Cameron. Mr Murad said: “No one can deny that Britain remains largely a Christian country, with deep historical and structural links with the established Church. . . We respect that.”

I know from personal experience that what Mr Murad says is entirely true. And I know that, as Iain Duncan Smith pointed out, the influence of a moderate and careful and generous Christian faith has enabled us to be welcoming to other faiths. That sense of generous hospitality provides the basis for tough discussion, and it is a hospitality that protects atheists as well, and so it should.

So why the fuss? As I say, for all of us, in the church, of Christian faith, of any tradition or set of beliefs, history makes for some uncomfortable reading. Its facts are awkward for all of us, but it is no use pretending they do not exist. The PM is right on this.

China to be ‘World’s Most Christian Nation’ in the Next 15 Years

Chinese church

Research in The Telegraph shows that the church in China is growing at such a rate that in the next 15 years it will be “the world’s most Christian nation”, and by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America:

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

“It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

A recent study found that online searches for the words “Christian Congregation” and “Jesus” far outnumbered those for “The Communist Party” and “Xi Jinping”, China’s president.

Funny headlines from around the world

Some of the more random headlines from the BBC News website over the last week or so: