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UK news in brief

12 February 2021

Sleep material added to Daily Hope helpline

NEW material to aid better sleep has been added to the Daily Hope helpline, which was opened at the start of the pandemic to bring comfort and prayer to people in need (News, 1 May 2020). The new content — a four-part series that can be listened to on loop — has been written by a co-founder of Daily Hope, Pippa Cramer, an occupational therapist who offers tips and Bible readings. Ms Cramer, who is also pastoral-care and seniors minister at Holy Trinity, Claygate, said: “There is a Covid-19 sleep crisis. But, while there are many online resources to alleviate stress and help sleep, these are not available to the 2.5 million over-75s who do not access the internet. My hope and prayer is that ‘Sleep Well with Daily Hope’, which is available on 0800 804 8044, will make a real difference for this vulnerable and isolated part of our community.”


Bishop at Lambeth to retire

THE Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, is to retire in September after 41 years in ordained ministry, it was announced on Wednesday. Bishop Thornton, who has held his present post since 2017 (News, 7 April 2017), has supported the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the House of Bishops, General Synod, and the Archbishops’ Council, including preparations for the Lambeth Conference, of which he will continue to be a trustee for another year. He has chaired the Development and Appointments Group and the review of the Clergy Discipline Measure (News, 18 September 2020). Bishop Thornton, who was previously Bishop of Sherborne, said on Wednesday: “I have been challenged and excited by all that I have done. During this year, I will have been ordained priest for 41 years, and Bishop for 20 years. Sian and I have both chosen to retire, and we look forward to taking on some new opportunities together in a variety of areas.”


Survey probes helpfulness of churches in pandemic

A NEW public survey has been launched to find out how places of worship can best help their communities to recover from the pandemic. It includes questions on how individuals have been personally affected by the restrictions on church buildings and activities, how the Church has supported the community through the lockdowns, and what the Church could do next as the nation moves towards recovery. It is the second survey to be set up by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture (University of York), in partnership with the Church of England Mission and Church Buildings teams, the Association of English Cathedrals, Historic England, the National Churches Trust, and the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance. The first, in July, assessed the human cost of the first lockdown. The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: “The evidence of grass-roots needs and experience is making a really significant contribution to decision-making, providing food for helpful guidance, and enabling the sharing of creative responses to Covid-19.” churchesandcovid.org


Gravestone inscriptions to be removed

THE Chancellor of the diocese of Chichester, the Worshipful Mark Hill QC, has ruled that a “derogatory and racist expression” must be removed from the headstones of two music-hall singers, G. H. Elliott and Alice Banford. Owing to their “offensive” inscriptions, their gravestones were removed from the churchyard of St Margaret’s, Rottingdean, last June, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests (News, 19 June 2020). In his judgment, Chancellor Hill said that, while there was a need to avoid “airbrushing history”, the headstones had “no intrinsic heritage significance”.and the inscription “evokes degrading stereotypes of people of African heritage” and was “likely to cause distress to those visiting the churchyard”. The performers, who wore blackface until the 1950s, died in 1962.


London project for homeless women to be 24-hour

THE Marylebone Project, which runs a drop-in centre for homeless women near Edgware Road, in London, is to begin 24-hour opening in April — allowing the centre to safeguard women who otherwise ride night buses or shelter in cafés to avoid threats of violence, abuse, and sexual exploitation. The project, set up and run by the Church Army and Portman House Trust, is being funded by the Evening Standard’s Homeless Fund, which recently received a £500,000 donation from Barclays. The Church Army’s chief executive, Des Scott, said: “I am really excited that the Marylebone Centre will be able to extend its service for homeless women at a time when it is so desperately needed, and with thanks to the Evening Standard.” The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, described it as “fantastic news”.


Church calls on Amazon to be ‘neutral’ in union campaign

THE Church of England Pensions Board is among a group of 70 investors in Amazon calling on the global retail giant to end internal efforts to dissuade its US-based employees from joining trade unions. More than 5800 employees in Bessemer, a suburb of Birmingham, are attempting to vote for representation from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has pledged to focus on grievances including packing quotas, workplace safety, and time allowed for bathroom breaks, the Financial Times reported this week. Voting closes on 29 March. In response, Amazon has waged an anti-union campaign through posters, text messages, and compulsory meetings during working hours. In their letter, the investors urge Amazon to be “neutral”, and suggest that its current position goes against its own Global Human Rights Principles, published on the company website. Amazon, however, has said that it simply “provided education that helps employees understand the facts of joining a union”.


Correction: our news story about Christ Church, Oxford, last week, stated that the college’s action against its Dean meant that mediation was no longer an option (News, 5 February). This is incorrect. ACAS mediation is separate from any Christ Church processes, and may take place at any time. Our apologies.

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