Please find a ‘Save the Date’ request, for a free Cybercrime Workshop aimed at helping smaller charities and voluntary organisations protect themselves against cybercrime attacks. This will be held on the morning of Thursday 10th November 2016 at St John’s House in Winchester.
Our vision of God’s Kingdom coming here on earth includes a fair and sustainable world where all people can flourish, and creation is cared for.
To get there, we need a prophetic movement of people working for transformation in the way we live our daily lives, as well as political change on poverty, the environment and inequality. We believe the church is a crucial part of this movement, and so at Tearfund we’re working to enable more Christians to be part of this change.
Does this idea excite you? Would you like to come together with others to develop and hone your change-making skills?
We’re working together with Christian Aid, the URC and CAFOD to take a group of people on a year-long learning journey. It’ll start with a weekend retreat (in Manchester) on 16-17th July where we’ll be learning about community organising from the Centre for Theology and Community. Going forward from the retreat there will be support, coaching and regular input from Tearfund and from each other.
If you are interested in this, please email us (email@example.com) ASAP for more details. Please do also forward this email onto others you think might be interested.
PS We’d also love to hear your stories of how you or your church are already part of this prophetic movement for change, do email them to us!
The European referendum isn’t the only campaign story you should be paying attention to this year — everyone’s favourite kid “politician” is speaking out about the big issues, too.
Robby Novak, better known as YouTube sensation Kid President, teamed up with ConAgra Foods and Feeding America to launch a new campaign Thursday focusing on child hunger in the United States.
The latest Kid President video showcases the Child Hunger Ends Here initiative, furthering his belief that kids “should focus on being more awesome, and not have to worry about their next meal.”
Novak and his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, created the Kid President video series to show how anyone, even kids, can create positive social change. Over the last five years, the pair has helped provide more than 500,000 meals to communities around the world.
Their partnership with ConAgra Foods, one of North America’s biggest packaged food companies, has specifically targeted child hunger in the U.S.
For every view and share of the video above between April 14 and May 9, ConAgra will donate the monetary equivalent of a meal to hunger relief organization Feeding America.
“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had no clue there were so many families struggling with food insecurity here in the United States”.
He learned about the issue from young people during his own service learning program in 2009 — young girls showed him not only that there was a problem going on here, he says, but that there are also solutions.
With the growth of the Kid President audience, Montague and Novak have been able to create a community that makes good things happen.
Montague describes their partnership with ConAgra Foods as more heartfelt and genuine than many brands and organizations he’s encountered.
Robert Rizzo, senior director of community investment at ConAgra:
“Committing to an issue as serious as child hunger is a constant challenge. It’s promising to see results on an individual level when we hear from families whose lives have been changed as a result of ConAgra’s commitment.”
My designated food bank operates out of a nearby church and I feel a deep sense of shame and anxiety on the way there. I worry that someone I know locally will stop to chat and I will be exposed as broke and dependent on charity.
The food bank volunteers, however, are kind and solicitous. They introduce themselves, shake my hand, and invite me to sit in chairs thoughtfully grouped at conversational angles. I am not interrogated and nobody towers over me; I am grateful for the eye contact and empathy I receive in response to my tale of benefit delays, impoverishment and worries about the rent. I am offered tea, cake and cheerful conversation in the most welcoming tradition of the church. It feels as though the whole process has been carefully worked out in order to preserve my dignity and I am moved by this tenderness.
As I unpack my groceries, I am deeply grateful that there are good citizens out there who have a bit to spare. I am also deeply angry that it is up to the churches and charities to plug the gaps left by a welfare state that seems to be creaking under sustained ideological pressure in one of the world’s richest countries. I feel guilty that my poverty is nothing compared to the suffering of those in developing nations or walking the roads of hostile Europe seeking refuge from war. And I am thankful that I have enough to eat for a while longer and that I will live to fight another day.
I have been involved in the campaign against cuts to our children’s centres and early help hubs in Hampshire, partly through my role as the Chair of the New Forest East Children’s Centre Partnership Board, and as a member of the New Forest Early Help Hub as a local children’s and youth worker.
Hampshire County Council is asking for the views of service users, other stakeholders and members of the public, on a proposed new Family Support Service for families with children aged 0–19 years (or up to age 25 for young adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities).
The theory of a 0-19 united service is a positive move, and one that has been developing over the last few years through the way professionals have been working closer together.
Worryingly though the proposal includes the closing of 43 Children’s Centres, and reducing the current staffing levels (currently 300 employees) for the Children’s Centres and the Early Help Hub by 60%.
The context is clearly driven by economic challenges: the County Council must meet a funding shortfall of £98 million by April 2017, and of this, the Council have decided that £21.5 million must be met from the Children’s Services budget. These proposals for changes to Children’s Centres and Early Help Hubs total £8.5 million of savings.
What are Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs?
Introduced 17 years ago by the Labour government as Sure Start, children’s centres are designed to help parents in the community, providing a central hub for activities for under 5s, early education, health and family support. They have faced heavy cuts as a result of dwindling council budgets and hundreds have closed over the past five years, either by shutting down entirely or through mergers.
The Early Help Hub is a more recent innovation that came as a result of The Munro Review of Child Protection which argued a moral argument, a timing argument (now or never) to put right the problems in early years support; and an economic argument that early help hub was cost effective.
An article written by the Archbishop of York on the introduction of the new Living Wage challenging the new Living Wage that George Osborne has created, arguing that it is essentially an increase on the national minimum wage for over-25s and rebranded it the national living wage:
Last year, just after a certain supermarket announced their plans to pay a Living Wage, I overheard an interesting conversation in a different supermarket. The woman operating my till asked her colleague whether she would consider applying for a job with the Living Wage supermarket. She said no; she did not believe it was a real Living Wage, they had simply found ways to dock wages elsewhere – such as no longer paying staff extra for working on a Sunday.
Like that checkout assistant, many of us remain unconvinced by Chancellor George Osborne packaging up what is essentially an increase on the National Minimum Wage for over 25s and rebranding it the “National Living Wage”. Of course it is to be welcomed that Mr Osborne is increasing wages at the bottom level for over 25s. But let’s call it what it is: a new legal minimum wage for over 25s. It is not a living wage in any real sense; it is not paying workers what they deserve and it is not paying workers what they need in order to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK.
To stop foragers, some supermarkets have poured bleach over the discarded food or storing binned food in locked warehouses.
Courbevoie councillor Arash Derambarsh had started a petition to the French senate that the supermarkets should support their local food banks. This law was voted unanimously by the French senate and will apply to any supermarket with a footprint of 400 square metres or larger.
I wish that this campaign would spread further afield. If you’re in the UK, check out the brand new scheme FareShare FoodCloud to be piloted in Tesco stores to send unsold food that can be used to charities rather than be wasted. We’ve been part of the pilot in the New Forest and it’s been great to be able to use some of the food that previously would have been thrown away with children and young people in our local community.
I love the concept of this map – it’s beautiful and yet also incredibly helpful.
Adapting the London Underground map, the Berliner Stadtmission, raises the issue of homeless people in the winter.
The map highlights places for help and shelter in the German capital – places where clothing and food can be collected, and where homeless people can find shelter in cold winter days.
The map is map by creative collective Hektik, also from Berlin. See their website for more work for the Stadtmission and examples how the underground map is used. The campaign is titled with the hashtag #WasHeißtFrieren which supposedly means something like ‘what is actually freezing?
The UK has a money problem. And no, I don’t mean our national debt. This one is personal. Money being borrowed by consumers recently saw its highest jump in eight years, whilst one in three of us couldn’t afford a £200 expense in an emergency without borrowing. A whopping nine million Britons are in debt.
The Christmas season just gone caused a typical upsurge in consumer spending; the average British family was set to spend £800 on their celebrations.The arrival of the New Year, however, has heralded an altogether different story. For many, the aftermath of the festive season brings into clear focus their own financial struggles.
The Church Credit Champions Network is trying to do something about this. Set up in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s famous ‘Wonga’ comments made in July 2013, the network is working with credit unions, debt advice providers and other initiatives to build a more financially resilient society, all through the local church.
Credit unions provide a much needed financial alternative for many consumers, particularly around Christmas time. Most credit unions offer Christmas savings accounts, where members are incentivised to save money throughout the year for the annual big spend, and can only draw it out in November and December.
Credit unions also provide flexible, low-cost credit. This is a much-needed and fairer alternative to many other organisations out there, such as the payday loan companies which offer only expensive loans with interest rates, and the banks who exclude so many on lower incomes from accessing their products. One Kensington-based credit union saw a 25% increase in loans this Christmas as people ditched payday lenders.
Churches can support credit unions in various ways, such as promoting membership to congregations and communities, or by opening up buildings as points of access for credit union services. The Church Credit Champions Network has built relationships with local credit unions and is connecting them with churches in order to scale up this vital sector.
Debt advice and money management help is also widely needed to build a more financially resilient society. Christians Against Poverty run a fantastic debt counselling model for churches and helped around 2,500 people go debt free in 2014. They have also produced a savings-focused budgeting course. Community Money Advice offer a debt advice centre model for churches too. The Church Credit Champions Network is encouraging churches to consider offering these services wherever they can.
By March this year, the network is on target to have generated £2.2 million in social benefit, measured by the estimated increase in access to affordable credit and increased volunteering due to its activities. Two hundred churches across the network’s current active areas of London and Liverpool have engaged in some way, and almost 3,000 people have joined credit unions as a result. These figures are set to dramatically increase as the network rolls out nationally in 2016 and the church continues to support credit unions, and offer debt advice and money management help.
Through its resources, relationships and connections, the Church Credit Champions Network is beginning to help build a fairer financial society but perhaps more importantly, it is also providing the Church with a vehicle through which to act on its mission.
– Tom Newbold, London coordinator for the Church Credit Champions Network
There are now at least 20 food banks in the Hampshire area, including some of the wealthiest parts of the county. They cover rural and urban locations, with approximately 50% affiliated to the Trussel Trust.
The research commissioned by the Bill Sargent Trust reinforced the findings of national research. Users generally go to food banks only when other options have been exhausted, and often feel shame and embarrassment about having to ask for help. They are living ‘on the edge’ and many have multiple problems including physical disabilities, illnesses, and mental health problems.
What food banks consistently offer, as well as emergency help, is a listening ear and a generous and compassionate response. This is sometimes in stark contrast to users’ experiences of statutory services. Food bank users are often surprised and pleased to be treated with respect and sensitivity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury writes, “ We all benefit from the gifts that refugees bring” in The Big Issue:
The scale of the problem we are facing as a global human family is astonishing. More than half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean so far this year. They are fleeing war, persecution and deprivation in Syria and Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea, and other countries.
As the number of people arriving in Europe continues to rise, nearly 3,000 people making the journey have drowned like Aylan or gone missing. My experience, having worked in this area for many years, is that you very seldom meet people who want to be refugees.
It is a desperate, awful, terrible existence. You leave home when the alternative is deathIt is a desperate, awful, terrible existence. You leave home when the alternative is death. In the Levant and Mesopotamia, families are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They are taking the deep blue sea, and taking their children with them.
… The people of these islands have a long and wonderful history of offering shelter – whether it be Huguenot Christians, Jewish refugees, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people or many, many others.
So as Christians we’re not just raising our voices – we are doing what the church always does: putting the love of Christ into action. Those Calais-bound cars were just the beginning: there is so much more to be done.