District Children and Youth work Blog
Check out our series of blogs below – ranging from Safeguarding to Social Justice we explore how these impact our young people.
Can be found in chronological order, with most recent at the top!
Celebrate this Easter by making these sweet treats!
- Large Marshmallows – body of Jesus
- Melted Butter – oils of embalming
- Cinnamon and Sugar Mix- spices used to anoint the body.
- Crescent Roll – the wrapping of Jesus’ body or the tomb.
- Oven – the tomb
- Cavity in bun – the empty tomb or the empty cloths
- 1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 8 large marshmallows
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- Separate rolls into eight triangles. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip each marshmallow into butter, roll in cinnamon-sugar and place on a triangle. Pinch dough around marshmallow, sealing all edges. *Make sure to seal well or all the marshmallow will escape.
- Dip tops of dough into remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar. Place with sugar side up in greased muffin cups. It helps to use jumbo muffin tins so that the juice doesn’t overflow.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes. Eat warm.
Censorship and the church
By Victoria Etherington
On Monday a Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova staged a live protest, holding a sign that said ‘Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you…’ Through state owned media the Kremlin is attempting to control the perception of the Russian people regarding the war with Ukraine. They are not the first state to try and do this, in 213 BC Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang is reputed to have buried 460 scholars alive for owning books he had banned, in his attempt to control how history would remember him.
Throughout history, states, communities, institutions, and individuals have tried to control access to information and education to prevent the expression of ideas or thoughts that might undermine their power over others.
Sadly, this includes the Christian Church, which through its history has attempted to suppress scholarship and punished differences of opinion by death or excommunication. Jan Hus, Wycliffe, Copernicus, Galileo, the Spanish Inquisition, Witch Hunts are all names or movements that are familiar to many.
The Western Christian Church is far more open today, with most denominations recognising that humanity does not know the mind of God, and accepting a broad range of theological views and expressions as legitimate.
However, this does not stop some Christian communities or individuals attempting a form of censorship. Children and young people are discouraged from engaging with books and films with themes that might be seen as challenging in some way. A few examples of these might
The Canterbury Tales – sexual innuendo and perceived criticism of the church
The Well of Loneliness – a story of a lesbian love affair
The DaVinci Code – criticism of the church and the person of Jesus Christ
The Harry Potter books and films – magic
Thirteen Reasons Why – a story about suicide
All Boys Aren’t Blue – a memoir about growing up black and gay
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – sexual content
Possibly the best known of these is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which has been criticised by both ends of the theological spectrum. More conservative faith communities are concerned that these books offer a doorway into the world of black magic and the occult. With some going so far as to claim that the spells are real, and risk conjuring evil spirits or causing physical harm. Those of a more liberal persuasion are concerned by the lack of diversity and J.K. Rowling’s reported anti-transgender comments.
Does it matter what our children and young people, or even what we, watch or read? Well, yes…and no. We are shaped by the culture we live in, and this includes media of many different types with very different perspectives on the world. We cannot prevent them being exposed to this. So, rather than limiting what our children and young people watch and read we could help them be ‘in the world, but not of the world’ (John 17 paraphrase), by discussing the things they are watching, learning, or reading about. The Harry Potter series contains some very strong positive themes such as the power of love, loyalty, and friendship.
Christian communities can claim these, even the presence of magic offers the opportunity to talk about the dangers of playing with something we don’t understand and Christian beliefs around witchcraft and black magic. Similarly, Rowling’s anti-transgender views offer an opportunity to talk about gender dysphoria.
Rather than censoring what we or others watch, encouraging them to view the world through a Christian lens, to intelligently assess the opinions they hear and see espoused equips them to remain Christian in an increasingly inhospitable culture.
Social Justice, Methodism and Young People
Written by Victoria Etherington
Unlike Naomi, I am not a cradle Methodist. Rather, I became one as a result of working for them, prior to this, I was Anglican. For me, one of the most attractive features of Methodism, is their commitment to social justice. This is more than something they talk about, or even do, it is a part of the DNA of the church. Faith is not just about personal spirituality, it is about love for others as fellow children of God, something which is expressed through campaigning for social justice in many arenas.
Young people may be a little more impatient, whilst older heads realise it is a long-term process, despite this frustration at the rate of change and the desire for a better world are shared throughout every generation in the church.
Yet, I wonder how much young people in the Methodist church understand this pedigree and realise just how much support and expertise is available through the church?
Many Methodist churches, even today, refuse to allow gambling or the serving of alcohol on church premises. Many young (and some not so young!) people see this as the church being out of step with the society in which we live. After all gambling is advertised on the television during family shows, I can download a gambling app on my phone and buy alcohol and a lottery ticket with my weekly supermarket shop. And the majority of ordained ministers and lay members of the church consume alcohol with a clear conscience. When the temperance movement began alcohol and gambling were seen as real social ills, with children going hungry or being subjected to violence because of the money spent on beer. The situation is different now though – right? Perhaps, we should be interrogating our culture and not our church? Despite the erosion of social taboos around gambling and alcohol consumption the link between them and crime, poverty, domestic violence, and poor mental and physical health remains strong. The continued commitment of the Methodist church to these founding principles is admirable, if misunderstood.
Although they may not allow permit alcohol or gambling on their premises, these same buildings are pressed into service as food banks, debt counselling centres, and community support hubs. They host carer and toddler sessions, parenting courses, AA meetings, dementia support groups, supper and coffee clubs. As a youth worker, I sometimes struggle to find a venue for a youth group, as the churches are already booked up with community outreach and support groups!
Away from the local church, the Connexion remains active on the political front, through organisations such as the Joint Public Issues Team. If you are reading this as a young person, did you know that Methodists were influential in the Trade Union movement and founding of the Labour Party at a time when both these institutions had a clearer role in fighting for the rights of working-class people?
Or that today the Methodist church continues to campaign in areas such as the alleviation of poverty, climate justice, asylum and treatment of refugees, peace-making and modern slavery?
If you are a young person, with a heart for social justice, go and tell your church – you may just be surprised by the response you get.
If you want more information on the opportunities available within the district, get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org 07473 065856
Or visit one of these websites
Safeguarding and Youth Leadership from the perspective of a young person
Written by Naomi Prince
Hello everyone, I’m Naomi Prince, the Yorkshire North and East District Youth Teams Social Media Manager and Developer. For those of you who don’t know me I’m a Methodist through and through and since a young age I’ve been involved in the church. For me being involved in the church meant being on church council when I was 13, training as a worship leader when I was 16/17, helping out on the PA/PC rota alongside other volunteering roles. For the past 2 years I’ve also worked for the church, with my current role in the YNE District, as well as part of a scheme from the Northampton District where I worked within my circuit.
This blog is going to be exploring 2 different aspects and experiences that I have had as a young person in the church, looking at my frustrations at safeguarding and also the experience of being a young leader and someone who is wanting to be active in the church.
As a young person in the church, I was protected by safeguarding until I turned 18, and I’m very grateful for that, however I found some safeguarding policies very frustrating and limiting.
Due to some of the roles I had in my church at home I needed to do safeguarding training when I was 16/17yrs old, so I attended some training which was being run by my minister at the time. While attending this training session I was told by my minister that because I was under 18, safeguarding policies meant that I technically shouldn’t be attending this meeting on my own, and that as an under 18 yr old I shouldn’t be allowed to go to the toilet on my own.
As someone who was quite an independent teen, being told that I should be chaperoned to every meeting that I was invited to or expected to attend, and that I shouldn’t be going to the loo on my own really frustrated me. In every other part of my life I was doing things independently. I was working in a cafe where I was trusted to open up, going to London and Oxford on my own. In other words I was being a normal teen. However, my minister at the time suggested that due to safeguarding I should have been treated by a child.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I understand why safeguarding exists and I don’t want to disregard how important it is but I struggle to understand how the church expects its young people to flourish and become independent people if they are treated as children and looked down upon due to their age.
Supporting Youth Leadership
How churches support their young people is something else that I have had a mixed experience of, and I have another anecdote for you.
When I was 17 I organised a district wide youth event at my church and invited the Youth President at the time to come along. In order to plan this event I was co-ordinating with different people in the church who were doing different workshops for me. I was planning 2 lots of worship and persuading people to sign up. My minister at the time was aware of the event, and was being sent planning documents and meeting minutes, however took a backseat in the planning, and didn’t contribute anything in the run up to the event. It wasn’t until the day was underway that she started complaining that safeguarding procedures weren’t being followed – and to be fair to her they weren’t. But that was because when planning this day it was something that had slipped my mind and I hadn’t properly considered. I was 17 yrs old and planning an event, balancing a lot of plates and safeguarding was a plate that I had dropped and not properly considered.
This is an example though of how not to support a young person within the church. It’s amazing that she gave me the space to plan this event, however as someone who was young what I needed was support and guidance to help make the event as good as it could be. I needed someone to ask me questions such as ‘have you thought about safeguarding’, ‘how are you planning on signing people in’, what about this…’.
Supporting young leaders isn’t about spoon feeding them information if they get it wrong. It’s about prompting them to think about the things that they might not naturally think of in order for them to achieve their best and to develop their leadership skills.
In my previous job within my circuit at home I struggled again with support. My line manager didn’t really have time to be my line manager and therefore didn’t reply to emails or want to meet me, meaning I didn’t feel like I had any support. Because of the nature of my personality I just got on with my job and figured things out for myself, however at times I felt very alone and struggled.
Whereas I have had a completely different experience working in this district, as Victoria (my line manager) actively works in meetings with me, trusts me enough to let me get on with my job however will also ask questions and get me thinking about the things that I might need to consider. I know that if something happens, or that I’m really stressed and struggling she is there as a port of call to help listen and support. She gives me the space to learn from my mistakes and that is what is really important. Because I am a young person. I’m 20 years old so I don’t have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and I’m learning as I work and this is the best support I have had from a line manager/minister and I’m very grateful for it.
Youth Ministry and Sleepout for Homelessness
I really hate camping. Seriously! My tent is over twenty years old, it was purchased for my children to camp in the garden, as I wouldn’t take them camping for a holiday. I don’t understand why people do it for fun. There must be something wrong with me, as so many people love it. I have even tried glamping: that didn’t convert me either. So, sleeping out is not something I do for pleasure. Yet at least once a year I find myself involved in some sort of event that involves me sleeping outside, either with or without a tent. This year was no exception, on the 22nd of January 2022 the district youth team, Leslie Newton, a group of students from JustLove at York university alongside other brave souls, once more slept out to raise money and awareness for the issue of homelessness.
If I hate camping so much, why do I do it you ask? I ask myself the same question each time as well, especially as very often I am the one who suggests it, organises it, or who is in some way responsible for the event!
One answer is money. Such events raise vital funds for organisations that support homeless people and work towards eradicating the causes of homelessness. Yet, it is more than that. It is an unpleasant experience which challenges most of us to step out of our comfort zone, this creates a bond between those who have slept out, building community. The wider church community engage through donating to our JustGiving page and sending messages of support and encouragement, cheering us on. We basked in the approval and admiration of those who had not felt able to brave the cold, but who applauded those of us who had. Although this leaves me feeling a fraud, after all I haven’t done much, to spend one night in rather uncomfortable circumstances is not that hard.
It does however offer a tiny insight into the life of someone who finds themselves homeless. This year I had an ear infection. When I rather hopefully, asked the doctor if it was infectious, the answer was, ‘no…but I wouldn’t advise sleeping out on Saturday.’ As I pondered the wisdom of going ahead it occurred to me that I had a choice, I could withdraw from the event with all honour intact. What does someone who is homeless do when they are unwell? Although I don’t know the numbers, I am sure that someone sleeping outside picks up infections much more frequently than the general population. A life of insecurity that involves constant cold and damp during the winter and excessive heat in the summer, with no access to clean running water and food with (generally) low nutritional value must exact a heavy cost on the immune system. For someone living on the street, there is no warm cosy bed to retire to in order to sleep the infection off.
Another reason for doing sleepouts and similar events is the hidden benefits such activities offer youth ministry. One of the big challenges of the role is in encouraging and recruiting others from the church to get involved. Often adults feel intimidated by young people; that they are not ‘cool’ enough; they are too old or have nothing to offer. When they join the youth group in a sleepout, these same people don’t realise that they are doing youth ministry. They believe that they are participating in a fundraising event; yet the next morning as they sip their coffee or tea and chat with the young people who also slept out comparing notes about how cold, wet, noisy, uncomfortable it was they are engaged in youth ministry. Stepping outside their comfort zone together, supporting one another breaks down boundaries and creates bonds between the age groups. It could be argued that an activity of this nature is true all age worship!
Finally, engaging in the mission of young people is a crucial part of youth ministry. It turns the church model of a young person assisting in adult ministry on its head. Adults participating in or facilitating something at the invitation of young people sends a very powerful message. It is a recognition of their ministry and calling, their equality with and place alongside the adults in their faith community.
So, next time a young person proposes an event or activity however unpleasant or impractical, think carefully before countering with the suggestion they join an established ministry in the church, even a similar one. Consider working in their ministry and not yours, you might find yourself doing youth ministry.
Alternatively, you could join us and sleepout in 2023. Yes, the date is already in the diary, 21st January. Maybe this will be the year I buy a new tent!
Tackling homelessness together
Written by Mark Bevan
The Vagrancy Act 1824 was introduced to help clear the streets of ex-soldiers who were struggling with homelessness after the Napoleonic Wars. Some people might say these men were heroes. The Vagrancy Act labelled them as ‘vagabonds’. Fast forward to 2021 and some members of the House of Lords attempted to get the Act repealed. Unsuccessfully, as it happens. A number of Law firms have flagged the anachronistic nature of an Act like this in current society, not least because there are modern approaches to enforcement, along with the argument that efforts are better focused on supporting people away from street homelessness. Fortunately, use of the Act has declined in recent years, but nevertheless, here we are in January 2022 and the Vagrancy Act can still be used to criminalise and punish people for being homeless. Another thing that hasn’t changed much since the early Nineteenth Century – and this shames us – is that we also still have veterans from the Armed Forces who are homeless, although at least our response to this issue has radically altered.
I was watching a webinar before Christmas looking at how public health organisations tackle health inequalities. One presenter described their exasperation at having to spend time in their working life patiently arguing against the perception that somehow people ‘want’ to be homeless. Certainly, one of the ironies of this perception is the extent to which people who live with homelessness are targets for violence and abuse. Let’s have a little look at some of the reported experiences of street homelessness from a survey in 2016:
- Seventy-seven per cent (353) of survey respondents reported anti-social behaviour and/or crime against them in the past 12 months.
- Three in ten (30%/139) rough sleepers reported being deliberately hit or kicked or experiencing another form of violence in the past 12 months (women proportionally more).
- Six per cent of respondents (25) had been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months.
- Thirty-one per cent (141) had had things thrown at them.
- Seven per cent (33) of rough sleepers had been urinated on.
None of this is inevitable. The government’s response to protecting rough sleepers during the first lockdown with the ‘Everybody In’ policy showed that this aspect of homelessness can be dealt with, even if it was on a temporary basis. Countries such as Finland, however, show the way in terms of permanent solutions to homelessness at national level using approaches such as Housing First. Organisations like Crisis have also set out their own ‘Everybody In’ proposals to bring about a comprehensive end to homelessness in Britain. One thing that certainly helps is the latest prevention fund to support efforts to tackle homelessness on the ground.
Another reflection on the statistics above is that haters don’t always have to win. There is real traction now in how we share learning and experience as churches in helping to tackle homelessness. Part of that learning is a growing understanding that what works to prevent homelessness aligns very closely with the things we do as Christians in our daily lives, as well as supporting the actions of others around us who work tirelessly to address homelessness.
So let’s share the love.
Homelessness and the changing face of extreme weather
The charity Centrepoint is predicting the highest level of youth homelessness this winter since they started collecting this data five years ago. One of the trends they’re seeing this year is a higher number of calls to their helpline. This is something repeated across Yorkshire, with Shelter also reporting a high level of calls – on average 66 per day across our region.
As always, a host of local agencies are gearing up to cover another winter across Yorkshire North and East Methodist District for people who don’t have somewhere they can call home. To support this effort Homeless Link have published the latest toolkit for Winter Provision and Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP), which brings together good practice from all around the country about the ways that local areas can help homeless people during extreme weather. Traditionally SWEPs have been used in response to cold weather, and in many areas SWEPs continue to be triggered only in freezing conditions. Look closely at more recent toolkits, however, and you’ll see something new emerging. Severe weather no longer just covers extreme cold. Increasingly we’re having to factor in the effects that more frequent extreme rain events, wind and storms have on the homeless. As I write this blog, we’ve just been through Storm Arwen – imagine coping with that if you live outside.
Increasingly we’re also seeing guidance emerge on ways to support homeless people during periods of hot weather and heatwaves. In July 2020 Homeless Link produced guidance that covers responding to the impact of heat on homeless people, along with advice on how we can all help out during periods of extreme heat in the UK.
In the last few years there’s been a surge in work all around the globe looking at how we can try and cope with the impacts of climate change on homeless people. Evidence from Australia, The United States and Canada all point to the way that natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, extreme hot or cold weather events and hurricanes not only cause homelessness, but have a significant impact on people who are already homeless. On one level this has always happened throughout history, but the difference now is the frequency and depth of what we’re experiencing.
Whether we want to hear it or not, climate change is already driving millions of people across the world into homelessness. As the effects of climate change continue to escalate more people will need to move, either because they’ve lost their homes, or the impact on them of having nowhere to live in the first place. Currently what we are tending to see is internal displacement due to climate change – that is, people who move but stay within their own country’s borders. One thing is clear though, climate change has now overtaken war as the primary cause of displacement. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported this year that weather-related crises have triggered more than twice as much displacement as conflict and violence in the last decade. One way we can respond to this is by supporting efforts to improve the resilience of areas where the damage is taking place so that we address the root causes of displacement and reduce the reasons why people are moving. The UN General Assembly also recognise, however, that “climate, environmental degradation and disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movements”.
This has implications for host areas around the globe and also the kind of welcome we can provide in this country. There’s a debate at the moment on whether we should call people who move when they lose their homes ‘climate refugees’ or ‘climate migrants’, in an attempt to reduce the stigma and negativity that flows towards people who try and make the best of a terrible situation. The Lancet published an article earlier this year looking at homelessness and climate change. Perhaps the most depressing thing about its conclusion was that the authors draw attention to the level of apathy and xenophobia that greets people who have had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own.
Why not do a little experiment by putting “heatwave” and “homelessness” into a web search and see what comes out. When I do this, up pop blogs, reports, and news items from all over the world, mostly from the last year or so. And there’s a bit of a theme: we’ve not had to think about the impact of heat on homeless people before – but now we do.
Written by Mark Bevan
14th December 2021
Post-pandemic homelessness: moving towards a new normal, but with the same old problems
Written by Mark Bevan
The Big Issue is thirty years old this year. There’s always something in every publication that grabs my attention and makes me reach for my phone to find out more. As well as being a fantastic read, the Big Issue continues to campaign on things that matter in society and to highlight emerging trends that affect homelessness.
Looking back over the last couple of years, one of the positive responses to the pandemic was the central and local government response to rough sleeping. For one thing, households were accommodated under the ‘Everyone In’ campaign, whereby local authorities were asked to provide emergency accommodation to rough sleepers, people who were living in shelters with shared sleeping arrangements, and those at risk of rough sleeping. Another key intervention was the restriction on evictions from the rented sector, and lengthened notice periods for landlords. The latest statistics published in September this year seem to bear this out, which showed that in 2020/21, the number of households with children who were either threatened with homelessness or already homeless had fallen compared with the previous year.
But as the Big Issue has recently pointed out, the policy measures and levels of support that were available have now fallen back or come to an end. The ban on evictions that was put in place to protect households during the pandemic ended earlier this year, and this change is starting to feed through into an increase in court orders. Ministry of Justice statistics show that 1,516 evictions took place in England and Wales between April and June this year. As we move towards winter things are looking much more uncertain for people living in vulnerable and insecure housing circumstances.
Careful attention will also need to be paid to levels of homelessness in the coming months as households are facing a greater squeeze on their budgets. Household finances are clearly going to take a hit this autumn. Unless there is a last-minute change of plan, the £20 uplift in Universal Credit is set to end in October. Household incomes will also be affected by the increase in the energy price cap, which will also start from October. As National Energy Action point out, many households on the lowest incomes will bear the brunt of this change, as they are unable to take advantage of lower energy price tariffs if they are on Pre-Payment Meters or struggling with debt.
Other trends also became apparent during the pandemic. Levels of domestic abuse have risen in the last year or so, and this has translated into an increasing flow of people forced into homelessness to get away from violence – mostly women, but also including thousands of children. In 2020/21 15,370 households with children were homeless or threatened with homelessness due to domestic abuse, which was up 13.9 per cent from 2019/20. Housing Justice highlight that the trauma associated with violence experienced as a child is deeply woven into the lives of many people who go on to later experience street homelessness in adult life.
Housing Justice has pulled together a wide range of resources that can help us reflect on homelessness as part of worship on Homeless Sunday on 10th October this year. They have also identified diverse ways we can get involved to provide practical help and support. A key theme on their website for this year is to think about how Covid-19 has changed the way that churches and individuals are able to respond to homelessness, and what the church response to homelessness might look like post-pandemic in 2022 and beyond. A huge amount of thought, planning and action goes on in the local authority, voluntary, community and charitable sectors across our District to try and tackle homelessness, and as churches and individuals we continue to be part of that response. By the time we get to the Sleepout for Homelessness on January 22nd next year, I’ve got a feeling a lot more people are going to need help.
The Plastic Problem
From Lorraine Jones, Children and Families Worker York Methodist Circuit…
Eeuuurrgh!! When you look into it, it really is scary how much plastic is out there and it seems to be in EVERYTHING. It’s hard to avoid — it’s even in teabags! Teabags?! Seriously?!
I once heard the phrase “There’s no ‘away’ to throw to.”
We never truly get rid of anything. Instead it’s turned into something else, or else just sits there in landfill or the oceans. That seems to be even more true for plastic — once created, it never goes away. We can recycle some of it, but less than 10% of the plastic we collect actually gets recycled [Greenpeace, 2021]. Some of it ends up getting incinerated, but well over half of the plastic that we put out for recycling in the UK gets shipped to other countries for ‘recycling’. At the moment that’s to Turkey and Malaysia but, funnily enough, they aren’t that keen to have it either!
Greenpeace have made a great video called Wasteminster, which is well worth watching. You can find it here.
They’ve also written a great article about the problem, called What really happens to your plastic recycling? It’s a cracking read.
The Greenpeace video calls on our Government to take action on plastic pollution. Yes, the Government does need to take action.
But we can do our bit too.
The Plastic Free July Challenge
We do need to keep up with our recycling but, ultimately, the answer is to use less in the first place. There are so many things we can do: simple changes we can make to make a difference.
This short video — it’s just over a minute long — explains the Plastic Free July Challenge: one or more simple changes we each can choose to make that will make a difference and you can find that video here.
It’s all too easy to think “well, one person can’t make a difference”.
But it does.
It already has.
You can now see the variety of sustainable alternatives available for everyday items — so producers are listening, people are starting to demand more environmentally friendly products and take the natural world into account when making decisions.
What Can We Do?
[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.yorkshirenemethodist.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Plastic-Free-July_Action-Picker_Getting-started-1.pdf” title=”Plastic-Free-July_Action-Picker_Getting-started (1)”]
Amy Shephard, the York Circuit Youth Worker, has created this very good guide that asks What Does the Bible Say? and explains what the problem is with plastic — why it’s bad for humans, nature, the world. It also has some great ideas for simple changes that will help you reduce your use of plastic. It even gives step-by-step instructions for making your own reusable bag from an old T-shirt! And to help you get started it has a page you can print out and challenge yourself: to write down what you plan to try in order to avoid single-use plastic and, later, somewhere to record how it went.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.yorkshirenemethodist.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/4-Zero-Going-plastic-free-1-compressed.pdf” title=”4-Zero – Going plastic free”]
If you’re the sort of person who’s “in for a penny, in for a pound” then great, go for it: try all of the ideas!
But if you find the thought of that completely overwhelming, just try one or two things and get them under your belt for a while before trying anything new.
An easy start might be to take Plastic Free July’s Pesky Plastics Survey — in less than five minutes you will:
- help Plastic Free July to track the trends in the common plastics that households use
- discover for yourself all the plastics that ‘sneak’ into your shopping
- set yourself up to measure your Plastic Free July success
Every day throughout July we’ll be posting a Plastic Free July Top Tip to the CYF’s Facebook page to give you even more ideas.
Some of our young people in the ONE X youth group are really getting into the spirit of this challenge and are having a Plastic Free Picnic in July. I’ve also challenged them to come up with some top tips we can share with you.
And of course, if you have any top tips yourself do please email them to me — at email@example.com — so I can share them with everyone!
I’ll leave you with a quote from Anna Lappe, an American Author, which has really struck a chord with me:
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
And a prayer:
Loving and creative God, help me to make wise decisions today; decisions that are a vote for the kind of world You want. Amen
Lorraine Jones <Lorraine.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Counting the cost: Price rises & homelessness
Written by Mark Bevan
It’s no surprise that the cost of living crisis is pushing people into homelessness. The University of Yorkhighlight some of the different ways that this is happening. One of the many pressures they note is the rapid rise in private rents and the costs of people’s mortgages. Not only does this trigger homelessness, but it makes it is so much more difficult for people already homeless to step back into accommodation as the costs of housing spiral away from those on the lowest incomes. A recent campaign by Shelter, for example, notes that almost 2.5 million renters are either behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent, which is an increase of 45% since April 2022.
What is making things unmanageable for so many households are the additional pressures on incomes such as utility bills in combination with rising food costs. Again, researchers at the University of York have calculated what this looks like in terms of numbers, with increases in food insecurity for households with children. In other words, more children are either skipping meals or not eating at all in any one day. On top of this are the pressures people face with paying for energy. Even with the energy price cap and supports in place, over a quarter of all households will be spending over a fifth of their incomes on energy by April 2023. Spare a thought for people on prepayment meters this winter who are self-disconnecting their own power as they cannot afford to top up their meters. The Citizens Advice Bureau have reported a surge in requests this year for advice from prepayment meter customers who are facing impossible choices.
Put all this together, and for an increasing number of people their lives are unravelling to the point where they lose their homes. Projections by the Homelessness Monitor for 2022 point to a sharp uplift in the anticipated numbers of people who are likely to be homelessness in the coming years. However, the way that people experience homelessness varies hugely. People sleeping rough is often how homelessness is portrayed in the media, but the recent projections are careful to note that the largest increase in homelessness is likely to be amongst people sofa surfing. That is, people staying with friends, extended family or others on a temporary basis. However, these projections were made at the start of 2022 – let’s see what the revised projections for 2023 and beyond will look like as the pressures of the last few months are added in.
So, what can we do to help more than we are already? The Big Issue continues to be at the leading edge of reporting on the cost of living crisis. Pick up a copy any week and not only will you be supporting the vendor, but each issue is packed with articles and updates, along with practical suggestions for getting involved. Local organisations such as the York Council for Voluntary Service have set out how people can get help, as well as help others. In addition to all the things that local churches are already doing, there’s national support and guidance on further ways churches can offer support within their surrounding communities, especially in relation to homelessness.
Bear in mind that inflation, utility bills, and other spiralling costs are not only having an impact on individuals but are also taking their toll on the frontline services that tackle homelessness. The researchers at theUniversity of York also point to the precarious state of many agencies across the UK that people living with homelessness look to for help. One thing that we can all do is support the supporters.