Why the Church is helping children understand how to handle money

Money

The Church of England have blogged on the importance of helping children to understand how to handle money, here’s a few snippets:

A couple of years ago many parishes in the Church of England decided to take some practical steps towards creating a fairer financial system where everyone in the community flourishes. We did this because we believe there’s no division between ‘spiritual’ and ‘non-spiritual’ parts of life. The good news of Jesus Christ is for the whole human being. He wants to see every human being flourish.

 

Working in partnership with Young Enterprise and local credit unions, the scheme encourages children to save small, regular amounts of money. This is combined with teaching resources to help children understand the values that underpin this kind of approach to money. It’s not just teachers; parents, carers and the whole community are encouraged to get involved with children’s financial education.

When I prayed with the children during their assembly yesterday, I prayed especially for those whose households have serious money problems. Where there are such difficulties, it may lead to a whole range of other problems tightening their grip on a family: substance abuse, domestic violence and marital breakdown, among others.

So the way that money is dealt with is about human flourishing at its deepest level – and it is absolutely right that the church is helping to try and break this cycle before it affects another generation. Meanwhile, on a practical level it makes perfect sense for the Church of England, which is involved in the education of a million children around the country, to be using our particular platform to make this contribution.

Go check out the full blog here.

 

 

Discussion starter: Muslim teen cuts off hand to prove faith

Mosque

A couple of weeks ago there were a series of articles about 15 year old Mohammad Anwar.  He was accused of blasphemy after mishearing a question at a mosque, and so went home to cut off his own hand. Since then, he’s become a local hero.

Youthministry.com have written a helpful discussion starter on this for you to use with your youth group reflecting on faith, commitment, and blasphemy.

 

 

Refugees’ life jackets are transformed into message of peace on Greek island

A bright orange peace sign appeared on a hillside on the Greek island of Lesbos on New Year’s Day, transforming a growing pile of life jackets discarded by refugees arriving on the island into a message to the world.

Dozens of Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) volunteers and local supporters teamed up to create the massive peace sign Friday on a hillside overlooking the small strait between Greece and Turkey that has become a main passageway for those fleeing to Europe.

Made up of more than 3,000 life jackets and built by dozens of volunteers, the sign is a way to honor those who have made the journey and to urge peace in the new year, according to Greenpeace.

Those involved in the project are calling for safe passage to those fleeing war, poverty and oppression.

Thousands of people arrive on the island of Lesbos daily, packed into flimsy rubber dinghies and wooden fishing boats. Most are refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

More than 1 million migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean in the past 12 months. Another 3,700 people perished in the sea last year while attempting the crossing.

Refugee life jackets

The island of Lesbos in particular has seen a huge influx of people, in part because of its close proximity to the nearby Turkish coastline. More than 500,000 people arrived on the island in 2015 alone, but the small community has also been the site of unspeakable tragedies as some fail to make it safely to shore.

In October and November, so many bodies had washed up on Lesbos that the local morgue ran out of space to house the dead. Tragic scenes played out weekly as ad hoc rescue efforts led by local and international volunteers were unable to deal with the sheer scale of new arrivals.

As those who do manage to make it to shore quickly move further on into Europe, their life jackets stay behind as a growing reminder of the movement of people through the area, as well as the lives that have been lost.

The life jackets have been slowly piling up in a dump on the island, near the town of Molyvos. The peace sign was created on a hillside overlooking the dump.

Christmas dinner was £5 cheaper in 2015

Christmas dinner

The average cost of Christmas dinner has fallen by nearly £5 since 2014 meat, vegetable and drinks prices lower the cost of the festive set-piece, official figures have shown.

Based on the Office for National Statistics’ inflation data for 20 individual “Christmas” items, the cost of the meal – albeit substituting turkey steaks for a full turkey – has fallen from £105.78 to £100.84 in the past 12 months, a fall of just under 5 per cent.

Food prices – down 2.7 per cent year on year in November – have eased the pressure on household budgets.  The figures showed double-digit falls in the cost of broccoli, carrots, cream crackers and back bacon in the past year. The price of turkey steaks has also fallen by more than 8 per cent, while the price of the single biggest outlay – champagne – has sunk 6 per cent from £30.74 to £28.85, the ONS said. The average cost of a bottle of red wine and port are also down almost 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Out of 20 items included by the ONS in the “Christmas dinner” inflation basket, only four – sponge cake, ice-cream, ground coffee and a box of chocolates – are more expensive than a year ago. The average cost of sponge cake rose by far the most sharply, up from 95p to £1.43, or more than 50 per cent.

Although this 2015’s Christmas dinner is cheaper compared to 2014, shoppers are still paying more compared to previous years. In 2008 the same basket of goods cost £88.41, while in 2010 the festive meal cost £92.43 – more than £8 cheaper than 2015.

Joint Church Statement on Syria

Syria - Getty

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church in Britain and the United Reformed Church have released a joint statement on military action in Syria:

Our churches: –

  • Express our abhorrence of the actions of ISIS/Daesh in Syria and their support of terrorist actions elsewhere and bring before God in prayer all victims of recent terrorist attacks and the families and communities affected by these atrocities
  • Are grateful for the vital work of the security services in the UK in suppressing acts of terrorism
  • Note that regional partners and Syrian factions have differing and contrary interests and welcome the efforts of the Vienna peace process to gain agreement on an approach to countering terrorism and to search for a way forward for the political process in Syria
  • Are convinced that Daesh can only be defeated through a comprehensive economic, diplomatic and security strategy that has the involvement of all partners in the region and the full support of the UN Security Council
  • Assert that aerial bombing is unlikely to have a decisive role in defeating Daesh and that even the use of precision weaponry is likely to cause civilian casualties and trauma within communities
  • Urge the UN Security Council to call to account all parties in Syria who have committed crimes against humanity and call on the UK and its allies to avoid security strategies that are based on a reliance on those same militias
  • Suggest that any military support from the UK in Syria be contingent on a clearer endorsement by the UN Security Council that is unambiguous as to the legal basis for intervention
  • Call on our members to continue to pray for all who suffer as a consequence of more than four years of conflict, including refugees in the region and in Europe and also for those tasked with negotiating solutions and bringing security
  • Call on our members to reach out in love and solidarity to members of other faith communities, to challenge the divisive rhetoric that sets communities apart and to show the love of Christ by building bridges where there are fractures.

It then goes on to look at the wider context of their opposition to Daesh and others who promote terror

Newborn baby found abandoned in manger at a New York church

Manger

A newborn baby has been found abandoned in a church nativity scene in New York.

The baby boy, who is perfectly healthy and even had his umbilical chord still attached, was found by a custodian in the Holy Jesus Child Church in Queens, New York.  The custodian told police he had just set up the nativity scene before taking a lunch break and returned to find the baby left there.

Father Christopher Ryan Heanue, a priest at the church, wrapped the baby in a towel before police arrived and took him to Jamaica Hospital, where doctors realised he was only a few hours old.

Father Christopher said:

“The beautiful thing is that this woman [who left him there] found in this church — which is supposed to be a home for those in need — this home for her child.”

Police have obtained CCTV footage of a woman with a baby near the church, who is then seen again later without a baby, however they are not releasing the footage.  Officers say they currently have no updates on the whereabouts of the mother.  According to New York state law parents are legally able to leave a baby at a safe location within 30 days of birth, as long as they tell an ‘appropriate person’ (such as a police officer or doctor) about it.

Father Christopher told the Guardian:

“A young couple in our parish would love to adopt this child and keep this gift in our community. It would make a great Christmas miracle.”

Watch the advert the cinemas banned

Just Pray

The Church of England produced an advert promoting their new website JustPray.uk, which seeks to create a digital place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a ‘live prayer’ feed of prayers being prayed across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine. The promotional 60-second advert features Christians from all walks of life praying one line of the Lord’s Prayer, and includes weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was to have been shown in cinemas from 18th December as part of the ad reel before ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.

But despite receiving clearance from both the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification (a ‘U’ certification, no less),  the country’s three largest cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue – who together control 80% of cinema screens around the country – have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”. Which is a bit odd, when you think how many films they screen which carry the same or greater risk.

The Church of England has said it is “bewildered” by this “plain silly” decision. The Rev’d Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Church of England, has issued a statement:

“The prospect of a multi-generational cultural event offered by the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on 18th December – a week before Christmas Day – was too good an opportunity to miss and we are bewildered by the decision of the cinemas.

“The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries. Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations. For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours.

“In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech. There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that.

“In the meantime people should visit the site, see the film themselves and make up their own minds as to whether they are upset or offended by it.”

The issue that seems confusing at the moment is the role played by the Digital Cinema Media (DCM), jointly owned by Odeon and Cineworld and which handles the majority of cinema advertising in the UK.  Initially they were very receptive to the Church of England advert, and even offered a 55 per cent discount for a slot in the ‘ad reel’ that is screened before the seventh Star Wars film when it opens on December 18.  Three months later, the agency told the Reverend Arun Arora, the Church’s director of communications, that Odeon, Cineworld and Vue had vetoed the film, saying they could not carry ads of a religious nature.

DCM have now stated that in their advertising policy document all religious advertising is prohibited:

Religious Advertising means… advertising which wholly or partly advertises any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief (including any absence of belief) or any part of any religion, faith or such equivalent systems of belief.

What is interesting is that it isn’t clear when this policy was created – was it before or after the Church of England first went to DCM with the advert?  Given that they have allowed adverts for the Alpha Course it does seem to be a recent addition.

Giles Fraser hits the nail on the head with his comments:

Of course, we can guess what those execs were really saying to each other. If we allow Christianity we are going to have to allow others, even – heaven forfend – Islam. You can feel their panic, their bureaucratic cowardice. We want to be left to get on and make our Christmas profits without getting drawn into such complicated altercations, they are saying.

I’m sorry, but the whole thing stinks. If you are offended by the Lord’s Prayer you are too easily offended.

Interestingly even, Richard Dawkins agrees.

On the plus side though we should reflect on how many more people will have heard of the ‘Just Pray’ campaign and the Lord’s Prayer – perhaps for the first time – courtesy of the media who have picked up on this.

Read this extraordinary letter to ISIS

tributes-paris-rex

If you want to read something about the Paris attacks‬ you MUST read this extraordinary letter to ISIS from young husband who lost his wife on Friday evening.

You can read the full translated post here:

“Friday night, you took an exceptional life – the love of my life, the mother of my son – but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart.

So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.

We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”

Teenage sex-crime victims ‘don’t report offences as they fear not being believed’

web-abuse-corbis-v2

Huge numbers of sex crimes against older teenagers in England and Wales in the last year went unreported and unpunished because many victims were gripped by the fear of not being believed and suspicion of the justice system, a new report by The Children’s Society reveals.

The staggering scale of under-reporting is highlighted in new figures obtained and analysed by The Children’s Society, as part of its Seriously Awkward campaign, which underline the appalling number of sexual offences against 16 and 17 year olds in the last year.

Through freedom of information requests, the charity found that police in England recorded 4,900 sexual offence cases — including sexual exploitation, rape and sexual assaults — against 16 and 17 year olds in the last year. But in stark contrast, the organisation’s analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales reveals that an estimated 50,000 girls alone say they have been victims of these crimes. More than for other age groups.

The report shows that half of those young people who did not report sexual crimes to the police did not report it because they either did not consider it worth reporting, feared going to court, or because they did not want the perpetrators punished. It is a picture that is reflected by the charity’s front-line staff who work with children and young people across the country who have been sexually abused or are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Many do not go to the police, fearing they will not be believed or that they will be judged. Others because they fear the perpetrators or are uncertain about what constitutes crime, consent and sexual exploitation.

The report, Old Enough To Know Better?: Why sexually exploited teenagers are being overlooked, also found that of the cases reported to the police, fewer than 1 in 5 resulted in a charge or summons.

Older teenagers who have experienced sexual exploitation face huge obstacles in getting the protection and help they need. Despite their being more vulnerable than other age groups, there is often less protection and support available because they are seen as being ‘old enough to know better’ because they have reached the age of consent. As a result, they are often blamed for putting themselves in risky situations even when they have been specifically targeted and groomed through the use of drugs and alcohol.

The Children’s Society is calling on the Government to make sure that police have the means they need to protect 16 and 17 year olds from sexual exploitation and that consent to take drugs and drink alcohol is never confused with consent to engage in sexual acts.

It is also vital that the Government recognises vulnerable young people at this age, including those in care, recovering from trauma and those with mental health and learning disabilities, as being particularly at risk of sexual exploitation by adults.

All 16 and 17 year old victims of sexual crimes must get access to the appropriate therapeutic or mental health support they need in order to recover from this horrific abuse. And have it continue as needed as they move into adulthood.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

‘Too many children are being left to suffer sexual exploitation in silence. Despite 16 and 17 year olds being at the highest risk, they often receive the least support. Dangerous inconsistencies in the law and services need to be changed. These young people are still children and the Government must make sure that the police and other agencies have the means they need in order to keep them safe.’

The Children’s Society revealed in its Seriously Awkward campaign, launched earlier in the year, that too often 16 and 17 year olds are being let down by the law and do not receive basic protection to keep them safe and healthy because of their age and the misperception that they are old enough to look after themselves.

Brilliant father of the bride invites stepdad to help walk daughter down the aisle

Todd Bachman was ready to walk his daughter down the aisle. He also knew he couldn’t do it alone.

Bachman stopped daughter Brittany Peck’s wedding processional Saturday to request the presence of another crucial figure in Brittany’s life — her stepdad.

Father of the Bride

Bachman and Peck’s stepdad Todd Cendrosky have both played vital roles in Peck’s upbringing since she was 11 years old — so vital, in fact, that Brittany wasn’t sure who should walk her down the aisle.

Two weeks before the wedding, Peck was torn. “She called me and said ‘Dad, something’s bothering me,’” Bachman told the Chronicle-Telegram in Lorain County, Ohio.  Read more here.

 

 

Another Council proposes to axe all its youth clubs

sutton-youth-centre-sutton-council1250-343x343It’s not surprising but frustrating to read of another Council proposing to close all its youth clubs.

Sutton Council said it has to reduce its annual £1.1m spend on youth and adolescent services budget as part of £74m of cuts that have to be made across the authority by 2019.  It is proposing to only maintain services that have to be provided by law. This would result in savings of £667,000, a cut of 60.4 per cent to the overall budget.

The council said that as a result there will be “no physical youth service”, meaning two youth centres will be closed and a third will instead be used for office accommodation. Meanwhile the borough’s youth parliament will also be axed.

The council said that statutory provision will mean the council continuing to support and track young people not in education, employment or training (Neet). Meanwhile a youth officer will become responsible for the oversight of youth provision in the borough and engaging with local providers of youth activities.

Wendy Mathys, chair of the children, families and education committee at Sutton Council, said:

“Unprecedented government cuts to our budget mean we have no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services we offer.  Our youth and adolescent services are a valuable resource and it is with great regret that we are having to make these changes.  It is really important that people have their say so we can understand what services matter to people. We can then work with our partner organisations to find other ways that our young people can receive the support they need.”

Sutton Council has launched a consultation on the proposals that closes on 13 December.

Youth homelessness figure eight times higher than Government admits

homelessness-getty

The full extent of youth homelessness is more than eight times higher than the Government admits, according to a new report.

At least 30,000 young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are turned away from local authorities each year.  Figures from homelessness charity Centrepoint suggest at least 136,000 16-24 year-olds have asked for help in the past year but only 106,000 got it.

The report is based on 146 responses from a Freedom of Information request in England and Wales and suggests councils are unable to cope with the volume of young people in need of support.

Homelessness

Some 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year. The figure is based on an analysis by the Centrepoint charity of 275 Freedom of Information responses from local authorities. In stark contrast, only 16,000 young people were officially classed as “statutory homeless” – which would mean councils had a legal duty to house them – according to the report.

Worryingly, some 30,000 of those seeking help were turned away with little if any support. And as many as 90,000 were only offered support such as family mediation, to help them stay at home, or debt advice. This means the vast majority of those going for help are not getting the full assistance they’d be entitled to if they were officially accepted as being homeless.

Last year only 40% of young people asking for support were given an assessment to find out if they were eligible for emergency housing.

Centrepoint say without assessments in all cases, some of the most vulnerable people could miss out on immediate housing support to which they are legally entitled, leaving them at risk.  The charity’s FOI does say that local authorities are not required to record the number of people asking them for help meaning the true number could well be higher.  They also say official statistics from the government on homelessness only show “part of the picture”.

These estimated figures were compiled by homelessness charity, Centrepoint.

These estimated figures were compiled by homelessness charity, Centrepoint.

 

Centrepoint say:

“A lack of coherent national data makes measuring the true scale of youth homelessness very challenging.  Figures compiled by the Department of Communities and local government and by devolved authorities show that there were 26,852 statutory homeless young people across the UK in 2013-14.”

The government has dismissed the report.  A Government spokesman said:

“Centrepoint’s analysis is misleading and based on anecdotal evidence.  Official figures show homelessness acceptances among young people in England is 13,490 which is less than half what it was in 2005.  We have made over £1bn available since 2010, to prevent and tackle homelessness and support vulnerable households.”

BBC Newsbeat have produced a detailed report which is worth taking the time to watch: