Salvation Army finds loneliness widespread
ALMOST half the UK’s population feel or have previously felt “isolated and lonely” at Christmas, a recent poll commissioned by the Salvation Army suggests. Of the 2004 adults surveyed in November, 17 per cent said that they felt lonely, and 25 per cent said that they “sometimes” felt lonely, during the festive season. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) worried that someone they knew was feeling isolated, while 89 per cent of people were either “slightly or extremely worried” about the increase in loneliness in older people. The Salvation Army is encouraging people to connect with their church; start conversations; offer practical help to and befriend older people. www.salvationarmy.org.uk
Toy shops will close for Sunday on Christmas Eve
THE owner of the toy-shop chain The Entertainer, Gary Grant, will close his 149 branches on Christmas Eve, because it falls on a Sunday this year, it was reported this week. Mr Grant, who has been praised by the Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers, spoke about his faith, and was reported as saying that he accepted that the decision might cost the firm £2 million in sales, but he wanted his 1700 staff to spend time with their families. “I value families,” he said. “I have the best staff in the high street. If that is the cost of thanking them for a hard season’s work, well, that is the cost.”
South Shields residents protest bid to privatise field
MORE than 1600 people have signed a petition to prevent South Tyneside Council’s selling Temple Park, South Shields, to private owners. It is an open recreation ground used by residents, sports clubs, and visitors to the town. The site was given to the community by the Church Commissioners, in 1961, to commemorate “their contribution to the war at sea” in the Second World War, the petition says. Members of the community met with council representatives on Monday to the Westoe Rugby Club’s plans to build a private sports centre there. The deadline for the consultation is 28 December.
Sentamu backs Yorkshire-wide devolution deal
THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has written to the Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, to break the deadlock in Yorkshire over devolution. The Sheffield City Region deal, approved in 2015, stalled in September after the leaders of Barnsley and Doncaster, seeking a Yorkshire-wide deal, voted against it. Dr Sentamu, who was asked to help steer further talks (News, 20 October), wrote a letter this month to Mr Berry, first seen by the Yorkshire Post, in which he said that “urgent steps should be taken now to draw up plans by the end of January 2018 for an All Yorkshire Devolution Deal to take effect with the election of a mayor for the whole of Yorkshire in May 2020.” In the Lords in October, Lord Bourne of Aberysthwyth said that the Government had “no intention to undo the legislation on the Sheffield City Region deal”, but would “welcome any widely supported proposal for a Yorkshire devolution deal involving a single mayoral combined authority and on an appropriate geography that did not include the Sheffield City Region”.
Work of Methodist Homes’ chaplains recognised
THE chaplaincy of Methodist Homes (MHA) has been awarded the Third Sector Care award for its work on end-of-life care. The team was presented the cash prize for its palliative-care programme, “The Final Lap”, at an awards ceremony in London on 6 December. The programme was designed by the former director of chaplaincy and spirituality at MHA, Keith Albans. The current director, Chris Swift, said: “MHA differs from other care providers in offering a chaplaincy service in all its care homes, as we believe the spiritual well-being of our residents is as important as their physical and mental well-being. They provide a source of counsel to residents and relatives.”
CHRISTIAN AIDAptitude: Amanda Khozi Mukwashi has been appointed the next chief executive of Christian Aid, it was announced on Wednesday. She has been chief of volunteer knowledge and innovation for the UN Volunteer Programme, in Germany, since 2012. The Rt Revd Lord Williams, who chairs Christian Aid’s trustees, spoke of her “very special qualifications and aptitude for this enormous and exhilarating position”