The future of Christianity and the Church of England in Britain

The Economist recently did a feature on the future of Christianity  and Anglicanism in Britain, which cites King’s Cross Church (KXC)  in central London as an example of growth.

Church Growth Diocese

Here’s a few snippets:

Overall the drift down in church attendance continues, as new figures later this month will show. The proportion of people calling themselves Christian fell from 72% in 2001 to 59% in 2011. Those saying they have no religion rose from 15% to 25% in that period (including 177,000 claiming to be Jedi). The number of churchgoing Anglicans fell by 12%, and in 2013 stood at 1m. Some 19m baptised Anglicans do not attend church.

Hints of revival in parts of the Church of England point to broader changes. Traditionally, the established church has had an obligation to serve everyone who lives in a parish. Its churches have been the centrepiece for local and national events. But many Anglican churches that are growing, as in King’s Cross, are “network” churches. They meet in pubs and offices outside the parish system. Most are evangelical, emphasising a personal faith based on conversion rather than a cultural affiliation to a denomination. They believe in tithing—giving a tenth of their income to the church—which increases their influence as other congregations shrink and expectations of financial giving fall.

Evangelicals say the church is right not to be swayed by changing social mores. They emphasise being counter-cultural and point out that many churches which are growing run against the liberal flow. “What is dying in England is not Christianity but nominal Anglicanism,” says David Goodhew of Durham University, author of “Church Growth in Britain”. The share of evangelicals in the Church of England rose from 26% to 34% between 1989 and 2005, says Peter Brierley, a church demographer, and could now be nearly 50%.

Not all growth is evangelical. Attendance at cathedrals rose by 35% between 2002 and 2012. But four of the five most senior bishops in the Church of England, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, are from the evangelical tradition. They differ from their American counterparts, says Mr Spencer. “They are less focused on creationism and abortion and less right-wing politically.” Archbishop Welby and Nicky Gumbel, vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB), London’s most influential evangelical church, both have Cambridge law degrees. HTB has planted many churches in London and is doing so in the rest of England. They are conservative on issues like gay marriage, prompting accusations by liberals of bigotry.

To be fair, there is not much sign of bigotry at King’s Cross Church’s weekly drop-in for prostitutes, nor its programme to keep kids on rough housing estates away from gangs. Many evangelicals want to restore the tradition of conservative social engagement set by William Wilberforce. They sigh at their characterisation as hateful homophobes. “Everyone thinks they know what the church is against,” says Pete Hughes, the church’s youthful pastor. “We want to be known for the things we are for: proclaiming the love of God and showing it in our actions.”

The declining importance of denominational affiliation continues to put pressure on the parish system. With 9,000 of its 16,000 churches in rural villages, “it is not fit for purpose”, declares David Voas of Essex University. Network churches are “like a virtual community”, he says, better suited to the modern era.

As to the possibility of disestablishment, most think it is unlikely to happen. Politicians are barely involved any longer in choosing bishops. A majority of people say they want a Christian coronation for the next monarch, and no government would tie up parliamentary time unpicking the links between canon and civil law. So the Church of England will probably struggle on. Yet if it is to survive, this most traditional of English institutions must do more to adapt to a post-Christian world.

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.

Why are young people drinking less alcohol?

Girl drunk on bench

There was a fascinating article published in New Statesman about how young people are drinking less and that individual alcohol consumption in Britain has declined sharply.

Whenever horrific tales of the drunken escapades of the youth are reported, one photo reliably gets wheeled out: “bench girl”, a young woman lying passed out on a public bench above bottles of booze in Bristol. The image is in urgent need of updating: it is now a decade old. Britain has spent that time moving away from booze.

Here’s some useful facts pulled from the article:

  • In 2013, the average person over 15 consumed 9.4 litres of alcohol, 19 per cent less than 2004.
  • As with drugs, the decline in use among the young is particularly notable: the proportion of young adults who are teetotal increased by 40% between 2005 and 2013.
  • 80% of adults are making some effort to drink less
  • There are 13% fewer pubs in the UK than in 2002.

What children want for Christmas: a Dad

Christmas presents

When it comes to Christmas, it might be safe to assume children will ask Santa for an extensive list of toys, games and treats.  But a survey highlighted in The Telegraph of their typical lists for Father Christmas has shown many have more serious concerns, requesting “a dad” instead.

A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A “pet horse” was the third most popular choice, with a “car” making a bizarre entry at number four.  But despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.

The survey, of consumers at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City, found children aged three to 12 years also wanted a dog, chocolate and a stick of rock.  Traditional hopes for a white Christmas were represented by a wish for “snow” in ninth place, with sensible youngsters also requesting a “house”.

Of the top 50 festive requests, 17 related to pets and animals, with some imaginative children hoping for a donkey, chicken and elephant.

iPhones and iPads also appeared on the list, with some quirky children asking for the moon, a time machine, a pond cover and beetroot. One child asked for Eva Longoria and another wanted Harry Styles from One Direction.

A request for a “mum” reached number 23 on the list.

Ofcom’s Children’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2015

The 10th Ofcom report on ‘Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report‘ has just been published.

This report examines children’s media literacy. It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as detailed information about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4.

The report also includes findings relating to parents’ views about their children’s media use, and the ways that parents seek – or decide not – to monitor or limit use of different types of media.

Summary of key themes

This year’s report shows that:

  • In 2005 levels of take-up of key media among children were higher than we might recollect, and not dissimilar to those of today. However, the experience of using these devices has been transformed, leading to a much richer and more expansive online experience than was the case in 2005.
  • Over the last few years, tablets are increasingly being used as a default entertainment screen, particularly among younger children. This is set alongside a small but important decrease in the numbers watching TV via a TV set.
  • The content children are consuming is increasingly curated by digital intermediaries, including providers like YouTube and Google. As well as attractive sources of content, rivalling traditional broadcasters, they are also seen by some children as legitimating brands, helping to vouchsafe the veracity or trustworthiness of content accessed through their sites.
  • The move towards smaller screens makes supervision more difficult for parents, and the proliferation of devices increases the need for parents to keep up to date with technology. For example, while over half of parents use any of the technical tools we ask about to manage their children’s online access and use, and around a quarter use ISP network-level filters, less than one in five parents whose child uses a smartphone or tablet use any of the tools for restricting app installation or use that we asked about.
  • The wider range of sources of content, set alongside the increased exposure to advertising, the use of services like social networking and the relatively low levels of critical understanding raises challenges for how children keep their personal information safe, understand the implications of sharing personal information and content and navigate the increasingly complex online environment in a way which allows them to reap the benefits and minimise the risks.

Pages 4-12 contain the Executive Summary with key themes and findings – if you don’t have long, do take the time to read these few pages.  Section 3 also contains some fascinating charts on the difference in usage by children between 2005 and 2015.

 

Support for children’s mental health must move into the 21st century

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The Children’s Commissioner for England says most children are looking to the internet for information about mental health issues. She has called for young people’s mental health websites to carry a ‘health warning’ with some sort of kite mark system to guarantee the quality of the information given, but she says more help and counselling should be provided in schools and youth clubs.

Young people want trustworthy information about mental health issues and also more accessible drop-in mental health support. Research found that young people are more likely to seek help about mental health issues from a friend (50%) than a parent (43%), mental health professional (40%) or doctor (40%). Only 18% would turn to their school nurse.

A new animated guide to mental health care care in England was launched ahead of World Mental Health Day by the Kings Fund; exploring the mental health services and how they work alongside other health and public services.

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Millennials Selfies: young adults will take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime!

Selfies

Millennials average 9 selfies per week, spending an average of seven minutes perfecting each one before posting. That’s adds up to about 54 hours per year spent on taking & posting selfies according to this report in the International Business Times:

A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston, calculated that the average millennial could take up to about 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime. Ninety-five percent of young adults admitted to having taken at least one such picture of themselves.

Millennials, usually defined as people between the ages of 18 and 34, have proven particularly drawn to selfies. More than half of young adults have posted a selfie to a social media website, compared to 24 percent of Generation X-ers and 9 percent of Baby Boomers, Pew Research Center discovered last March.

Respondents to the Luster survey said they took an average of nine selfies a week and put the average amount of time needed at seven minutes. That adds up to about 54 hours a year of taking selfies, according to the survey, which included responses from 1,000 young adults.

That may sound shocking, but high numbers like those aren’t unheard of. The average 16- to 25-year-old woman spent 16 minutes taking an average of three selfies per day, or five hours a week, according to Beauty site FeelUnique, which commissioned a study earlier this year, Refinery29 reported.

Despite these figures, only 10 percent of respondents told Luster they were addicted to taking selfies.

Good Childhood Report 2015

thegoodchildhoodreport-2015-frontcover

The Children’s Society has produced their fourth Good Childhood Report, exploring how children feel about their lives, based on 10 years of well-being research in partnership with the University of York.

 

The report concludes that far too many children in England are experiencing low levels of well-being and considers what more can be done to improve the lives of children when it comes to their well-being, how to respond to those most in need and the importance of listening to children’s voices and understanding their personal experiences.

 

The report looks at the latest national statistics, key findings from the research programme, new findings from an international perspective and children’s well-being in the UK in comparison to that of children in other countries.

 

Key Findings;

  • 5-10% of children in the UK have low levels of well-being
  • Low well-being is linked to a range of negative outcomes for children including mental and physical health problems.
  • More than half of children not living with family, e.g. ‘Looked After Children’, and children who have difficulties with learning had lower levels of life satisfaction compared to fewer than one in ten of those living with family.
  • As children approach adolescence there are clear declines in levels of well-being, 2.4% of children aged 10 had low levels of life satisfaction compared to 8.2% of children aged 16.
  • From an international perspective, children in England ranked 14th out of 15th for satisfaction with life as a whole.

 

 

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:

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Survey of England’s children

Children's World Report

Children’s Worlds survey has been conducting research across the world understanding children in a range of countries.  The latest survey for England has recently been published, based on research from late 2013 and early 2014.

There’s a huge wealth of statistics in the 38 page report which is worth digging into.  Here’s how the research sample was taken:

The England sample was designed to achieve a nationally representative sample of children aged 8 to 9 years old, aged 10 to 11 years old and aged 12 to 13 years old with at least 1,000 children in each group. The primary sampling unit was schools. Separate samples were drawn for Years 4 and 6 (primary school education) and Year 8 (secondary school education). Both samples followed the same methodology. First, a complete list of schools in England was stratified into five groups by the proportion of children receiving free school meals (a very rough indicator of economic prosperity). These groups were approximate quintiles (based on numbers of pupils in each stratum). The approximation was because of a lack of precision in the data available on free school meal entitlement. Within each stratum schools were selected randomly with probabilities proportional to size (number of pupils), with the aim of achieving a target of at least eight schools per stratum. Within each selected school, one class group (not grouped on pupil ability) was randomly selected.

The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites

The NSPCC earlier this week launched a new research report into the experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites and the strategies they use to deal with things that upset them online.  Researchers conducted an online self completion survey in December 2012 of 1,024 11-16 year olds in the UK.

NSPCC Report Cover

Here’s some of the key findings:

  • Over one in four (28%) of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site have experienced something upsetting on it in the last year.
  • Of the children and young people who were upset, 11% were dealing with upsetting experiences on a daily basis.
  • The most reported issue experienced on social networking sites was trolling, experienced by 37% of children who had been upset.
  • Other issues experienced by children who had been upset included: pressure to look or act a certain way (14%), cyber stalking (12%), aggressive and violent language (18%), encouragement to hurt themselves (3%), receiving unwanted sexual messages (12%), and requests to send or respond to a sexual message (8%).
  • Over half of 11-16 year olds (58%) believed at least one of the people responsible for the behaviour which had upset or bothered them was either a complete stranger, someone they only knew online, or they did not know who it was at all.
  • Only 22% of the children who were upset talked with someone else face to face about the experience.

Download the full report from the NSPCC: The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites.

87% of American teenagers send text messages each month

We all know teenagers are glued to their mobile phones. New data from the Family Online Safety Institute shows which mobile activities are keeping them hooked.

Text messaging is the most popular activity, which 87% of teens have done in the past 30 days. More than 80% of teens also have also participated in mobile gaming, emailing and social networking.

Statista‘s chart shows how many teens engage in different mobile activities:

Digitial Life of Teens