Prayer for the EU referendum campaign

The Church of England has released a prayer for the EU referendum campaign.

The prayer is for use by churches and individuals ahead of the vote on June 23.

God of truth,
give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum
with honesty and openness.
Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion
and discernment to those who vote,
that our nation may prosper
and that with all the peoples of Europe
we may work for peace and the common good;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Church leaders say they will fight Westminster Council to install ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue

A life-size statue of a ‘Homeless Jesus’ is at the centre of a row between Westminster Council and senior clergy over its proposed installation outside a central London church.

The council has refused to grant permission for the installation of the artwork outside Methodist Central Hall as the area is already “saturated” with statues.

But church leaders said they will continue to fight the council’s decision.

Reverend Dr Martyn Atkins, a minister at the church, told the Evening Standard that the clergy plan to “respond with a statement or appeal” following the result of their application, which was rejected in February.

The monument is designed to prompt public reflection on homelessness and depicts Christ hidden beneath blankets, identifiable only by stigmata wounds in his feet.

It was created by Canadian sculptor and devout Catholic Timothy Schmalz, who has said it was “supposed to make you feel uneasy,”according to the Irish Times.

Kid President’s 2016 campaign aims to end child hunger

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.

Montague said:

“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.

Kid President 100000 meals

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.”

New research on teen online safety

The PSHE Association has launched a new report in partnership with the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) outlining 11 key principles of effective practice in prevention work with young people.

The report reveals that effective interventions are more likely to engage with parents and the wider community, consulting them in the design of the programme, and ensuring that positive messages taught at school are reinforced at home. Other findings include the importance of using interactive and skills-based teaching strategies, and effective monitoring and evaluation.

Experts in the field have urged education professionals to take an evidence-based approach, arguing that principles of effective practice are transferrable across areas of prevention education, from online safety and sex and relationships education to programmes developing essential social and emotional skills. We hope this document will support teachers and other education professionals to deliver evidence-based online safety education within the context of a broader PSHE programme.

Jonathan Baggaley, Head of Education at the NCA’s CEOP Command, said:

“This valuable report sets out clear, evidence-based principles for all those who develop and deliver online safety education programmes, distilled from years of relevant experience. It shows that helping children practice skills as well as gaining knowledge, delivering a structured curriculum over time, training and developing staff and engaging with parents and communities make a real difference in preventing harm to children.

Today’s children are growing up online, and make little distinction between life online and off. Their use of online games, apps and services plays a crucial role in the development of their identities, friendships, relationships, passions and aspirations. It is essential that we respond by offering them high-quality online safety education based on the best available evidence. We hope this report will help educators to do just that.”

Download the joint report between the PSHE Association and CEOP.

Children’s, Families and Youth Communications Survey

A message from Sarah Long (Diocesan Youth Adviser) and Andy Saunders (Diocesan Children’s & Families Adviser):

We’ve become aware as a team that we need to work on how we best communicate with you in your role with Children, Families or Young People. We want to make sure that we’re doing the best job we can resourcing you with the information, resources and insights to help you feel confident and equipped in your ministry. So please will you help us get this right?

We’ve pulled together a short survey (There are fewer than 10 questions!) to help us hear from you how you might like to hear from us and what you might like to hear.

We’d be so grateful if you’d grab a cup of tea and take just five minutes to fill out our survey!

(Closing Date – Saturday, 30th April)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sarah & Andy

What are the largest religious groups around the world?

The Independent reports that the world is going to become more religious, with the number of people who identify as non-religious shrinking as a percentage of the world’s population, according to a report by the Pew Research Centre.

But what are the world’s religions, and how they distributed? This map, developed by The Independent and Statistia, shows which religions have the most subscribers in different parts of the world.

largest-religious

CofE Communications update – May 2016


Tending the Flock 1InReview

May’s edition of InReview, including details about the Of Things Not Seen photo project, an update from Renewal & Reform and more, is available here.

 

Bishop Steven CroftInFocus

May’s edition of InFocus, including the announcement of the new Bishop of Oxford, new resources to encourage exploring vocations and more, is available here (a 4 page version is available here)

More people than ever use food banks in Britain today – and I’m one of them

As the Trussell Trust reveals that food bank usage is at record levels one user writes a first hand account of her experiences using one:

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.

 

Drinkaware for Education resources

Drinkaware alcohol education resources have recently received the PSHE Association Quality Mark for best practice PSHE teaching resources.

Drinkaware for Education offers free, curriculum-linked alcohol education resources for students aged 9 to 14. Incorporating discussion-based activities, role plays and scenarios drawn from everyday situations, the resources make it easy to equip students with the information they need to stay safe from alcohol harm.

Using videos, lesson plans and a range of activities, Drinkaware for Education addresses emotional health and peer pressure, as well as the harms and risks commonly associated with alcohol.

Developed in conjunction with teachers and educational experts, the resources are flexible and can be adapted to suit teachers’ needs. Teachers can mix and match which activities to use and when to teach them, and they can be taught in any order.

Young people are encouraged to work in teams, as well as take part in whole group activities which develop essential skills such as risk-awareness, managing peer pressure and communication, through sessions covering:

  • The law on alcohol
  • Health and social harms associated with drinking alcohol underage
  • The effect alcohol can have on emotional health and wellbeing
  • The relationship between peer pressure and underage drinking

Visit the Drinkaware for Education website to register for these free resources

TrueTube resources on Female Genital Mutilation

Courtesy of Forward, a charity which campaigns to protect the rights of women, TrueTube have two versions of a film to help raise your students’ awareness of Female Genital Mutilation. For younger children they have My Body, My Rules, and for an older audience there is Needlecraft. Both films describe what FGM is and why it is wrong