The vicar’s reaction to people only appearing in church at Christmas

Jody Stowell wrote a great article in The Independent, a couple of years ago, on the vicar’s reaction to people only appearing in church at Christmas:

Do I mind that people come to church at Christmas and occasionally at Easter, and remain absent the rest of the year?  The honest answer is yes and no. Of course I want people to come to church each Sunday, but do not think for one moment that I care one tiny jot about bums on seats.  When people come to church at Christmas, I would like to see them again, simply because they have made the connection between the twinkly lights in the darkness and the Light that Shines in the Darkness.

You may only come to church at Christmas, but it really is Christmas every day.

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

What Joey Essex teaches us about Christmas

Heat Magazine: Will you put a nativity scene under the tree?
Joey Essex: What does that mean?
Heat: You know what a nativity scene is, surely…
Joey: An activity screen? Is it a box you put presents in
Heat: You know, when Jesus was born…
Joey: Oh! The hay round the bottom of the Christmas tree!
Heat: His mum and dad, Mary and Joseph…
Joey: They put him in a cot?
Heat: A crib…
Joey: Like a house? What was that song they used to sing? :Bursts into song “Baby Jesus! Bethlehem! And he used to sit in a little barn?” That was a sick song. I really want to start going to church.
Heat: And the three wise men brought him gold, frankincense and myrh…
Joey: [incredulous] How do you know all of this…

Krish has more on how modern society understands (if at all) what Christmas is about. Here’s the original interview.

Community Christmas Meals

Communities are being encouraged to provide companionship to older people on Christmas Day by running a community Christmas Lunch event, joining up with others at a local pub or restaurant, popping round for tea and cake, perhaps organizing a film viewing or anything else that can be enjoyed by all those that take part. This should be a chance to meet up with old friends and make new friends creating bonds in the community that last well beyond the single day.

If you have elderly or older clients or anyone needing somewhere to go for a Christmas Meal they can put their post code into this website and it will bring up all the options in their area. Some even include transport!

If you cannot find your area, keep checking as the site is being updated regularly. And of course if you know of a scheme that isn’t already on the site this is a great place to add it .

Prince William has a stark warning about the stigma surrounding mental health

Prince William has spoken out about his desire to “normalise” the “great taboo” of mental health in a powerful speech.

He said that until recently, people with anxiety were considered to be “weak,” and those who were struggling to cope were deemed to be “failing.”:

“Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they.  But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it”

He said that his interest in mental health began with his work as an Air Ambulance pilot.

“It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden. The suicide rate among young men in this country is an appalling stain on our society.  Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40 in this country. Not cancer, not knife crime, not road deaths – suicide.”

The prince said if any one of the aforementioned issues caused so many deaths, there would be a “national outcry.”

“But there has only ever been silence. And this has to stop. This silence is killing good people,” the prince said.

The prince said that in his work as in Search and Rescue and as an Air Ambulance pilot, he has been encouraged — along with his colleagues — to admit when they feel “overwhelmed or unable to cope”.

“This should be the norm,” he said.

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.

New Forest sees a decrease in suicides

Deaths from suicide in the UK rose slightly from 6,122 deaths in 2014 to 6,188 deaths in 2015 with a subsequent increase in the rate from 10.8 to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population according to the latest release from the ONS.

UK male suicide rate decreases whilst female rate increases to its highest rate in a decade.

England and Scotland saw decreases in the total number of suicides, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland saw increases.

Closer to home the New Forest saw a significant decrease from the 2014 figures to the 2015 figures:

hampshire-suicides-2002-2015

Girlguiding launches first awareness campaign

Girlguiding turns to social media – and Unilad – to expose everyday sexism.

girlguiding-campaign

Girlguiding has used negative commentary from media personalities to highlight the everyday sexism that women still suffer in a new video designed to challenge outdated perceptions and to encourage people to see the charity in a more modern light.

#ForTheGirl has been launched in the light of research by the charity that found 70 per cent of 11 to 21-year-old girls believe sexism is so widespread it affects most areas of their lives. The film and campaign directly target women aged 25 to 34, both as role models for the charity’s young members and as a key demographic for future volunteers and parents of girls who might join the charity. The campaign will be aired through a number of channels, including Unilad’s Facebook page.

“#ForTheGirl highlights the level of sexism and inequality girls face in their day-to-day lives and through the mainstream media, and reminds them that they don’t have to accept it,” said Becky Hewitt, communications director at Girlguiding.

“We are calling on everyone to join girls in challenging sexism whenever and wherever they see it to build a fair future for girls everywhere.”

Halloween – No Trick or Treat

hampshire-constabulary-no-trick-or-treat-fb-cover

If you do not want to be disturbed by trick or treaters this Halloween, download and print out a copy of the “No Trick Or Treat” poster by Hampshire Constabulary to display by your front door.

Every year Hampshire Constabulary’s force control room receives calls from people who have been frightened or disturbed by trick or treaters in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Some advice for the elderly or vulnerable members of our community staying home this Halloween:

  • If you do not know who is calling at your house, you do not need to open the door.
  • Try to see who is at the door by looking through a spy hole or window before opening the door.
  • If you have a chain on your door – keep this in place when opening the door.
  • If you feel threatened in your home, please contact the police.

Polichampshire-constabulary-no-trick-or-treate advice to children and their parents is to be mindful that some of the more vulnerable or elderly members of the community do not wish to participate in Halloween activities and in fact may feel intimidated by groups of people calling at their doors.

Hampshire Constabulary has prepared some advice for children and their parents:

  • If your child is going outside in a costume – make sure they are wearing reflective clothing or add reflective tape to their clothes.
  • Carry a torch and consider road safety at all times.
  • If your child is going out trick or treating – make sure they go out in a group, preferably accompanied by an adult.
  • Older children should let you know where they are going and what time they will be back.
  • Children should carry a mobile phone in a pocket or bag.
  • Make sure your children know not to enter anyone’s house or to accept lifts from strangers.

8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting

megan-maasMegan Maas has written a blog on 8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting for the Huffington Post.  Here’s a few snippets from the blog which are essential reading for any youth worker:

… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.

1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal. 

2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …

3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …

4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification

5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”

6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation

7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.

8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses. 

Young Britons living in ‘suspended adulthood’

Despair, worries about the future and financial pressures are taking a toll on millions of young Britons, according to a poll which found young women in particular were suffering.

young-adults

Low pay and lack of work in today’s Britain are resulting in “suspended adulthood”, with many living or moving back in with their parents and putting off having children, according to the poll of thousands of 18 to 30-year-olds.

Large numbers describe themselves as worn down (42%), lacking self-confidence (47%) and feeling worried about the future (51%).

The Young Women’s Trust, the charity that commissioned the research and polling, warned that Britain was facing a “generation of young people in crisis” as it called on the government to take steps including creating a minister with responsibility for overall youth policy.

Young women are being particularly affected. The percentage of women reporting that they lacked self-confidence was 54%, compared with 39% of young men.

While four in 10 young people said they felt worn down, the percentage for young women was 46% compared with 38% of men. One in three said they were worried about their mental health, including 38% of young women and 29% of young men.