New round of grants seeks to fight hate crime
PEOPLE of faith in the UK can now apply for the second round of the Government’s £2.4-million Security Funding Scheme for places of worship, it was announced on Wednesday. To qualify for a grant, worshippers must provide evidence that the buildings that they use are vulnerable to a hate-crime attack, or that they have experienced one within the past two years. The first round was announced by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. in July: 45 churches, 12 mosques, one Hindu temple, and one gurdwara benefited from a total of £405,000. The closing date for applications is 19 May. www.gov.uk
Churches condemn income-support limit
CHURCHES have said that the Government’s new two-child limit on Universal Credit “deliberately ignores” the needs of the poorest people in the UK. It was imposed yesterday, and will reduce income support payments to about 640,000 families, affecting at least two million children. The vice-president of the Methodist Conference, Rachel Lampard, said that the rule “takes a knife to the social-security safety net” for thousands of vulnerable children. The Church of Scotland, the United Reformed Church, and the Baptist Union also opposed the change.
Bishop speaks out over Ebola-virus stigma
THE Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has said that religious groups can “act as a bridge” between aid agencies and the population in Sierra Leone to prevent the ongoing stigmatisation of survivors of the recent Ebola-virus epidemic, which he said had been a “profound” problem. He also urged government agencies and charities to be aware of the “social and religious contexts” when attempting to tackle the impact of disease in communities.
Religious discrimination noted at work
A POLL by ComRes this week suggests that workers in the UK are more likely to face harassment, discrimination, or bullying because of their religion or beliefs (three per cent) than disability (two per cent) or gender reassignment (one per cent). One respondent said: “In our office, everyone is very respectful of minorities and would never be disparaging about women or people with disabilities, but when it comes to religion, it’s fair game. People can be very insulting, especially when they express it through humour.” Age (seven per cent), gender, and race were top of the list, but, of the more than 300 managers and employees who responded to the survey, in February, the majority (77 per cent) said that they had never faced discrimination of any kind.
Chaplaincy offered at Sports Direct HQ
CHURCHES are offering chaplaincy services to staff at the Sports Direct headquarters in Shirebrook, Derby, more than a year after a Guardian report revealed that temporary warehouse staff were being paid less than minimum wage, and suffered pay deductions for clocking in for a shift one minute late. Church of England, Methodist, and Roman Catholic clerics have been given a space in the canteen to discuss, confidentially, any personal, relationship, or work issues raised by staff. The Revd Karen Bradley, Team Vicar of Holy Trinity, Shirebrook, said: “We’re here to provide a listening ear and give help and direction to those who need it.”