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UK news in brief

08 October 2021


Dual image: a panting in an exhibition on modern slavery and human trafficking, by the London-based Syrian artist Sara Shamma, in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, until the end of this month. elycathedral.org

Dual image: a panting in an exhibition on modern slavery and human trafficking, by the London-based Syrian artist Sara Shamma, in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, until the end of this month. elycathedral.org

Cross-wearing nurse claims unfair dismissal

AN NHS theatre practitioner, Mary Onuoha, told an employment tribunal this week that she had been discriminated against by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust because she had refused to remove a gold cross around her neck. Theatre managers told her that the cross was a health-and-safety risk, and yet they permitted people of other faiths to wear jewellery, she said. She was removed from theatre work and resigned in 2020. The Christian Legal Centre is claiming harassment, victimisation, direct and indirect discrimination, and constructive and unfair dismissal. Ms Onuoha, who worked at Croydon University Hospital for 19 years, said that she had worn the cross without attracting any complaints until 2015. The hospital said that it was a breach of its dress code and uniform policy.


Children’s Society wins Lottery funding

THE Children’s Society has been awarded £2.5 million from the National Lottery Community Fund to support its work to tackle child exploitation. Through its project Disrupting Exploitation, the charity works with the police, social-care agencies, schools, businesses, and community groups to reform the way in which they respond to criminal, sexual, and labour exploitation, and support young victims. It now hopes to help more than 250 children and 270 parents and carers in London, Birmingham, and Greater Manchester by 2024.


Quaker concern over Charity Commission appointment

THE appointment process for a new chair of the Charity Commission must not be politicised, an open letter to the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, signed by the Quakers in Britain, together with other groups, warns. The letter refers to a Daily Telegraph opinion piece written by Mrs Dorries’s predecessor, Oliver Dowden, last month, which complained of “a worrying trend in some charities that appear to have been hijacked by a vocal minority seeking to burnish their woke credentials”. He wrote: “In so doing they not only distract charities from their core missions but also waste large amounts of time and money. . . The public’s trust depends on charities remaining true to their founding missions. The recruitment of a new Chair of the Charity Commission provides an opportunity for this refocus and resetting of the balance.”


Bishop of Ripon calls for police commissioner to resign

THE Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, has joined others in calling for the resignation of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Allott, who suggested that women “need to be streetwise” in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard. Dr Hartley said that she was “shocked and appalled” by the comments. An officer of the Metropolitan Police, Wayne Couzens, was given a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey last week. He arrested Ms Everard on false pretences in March before raping and killing her. Mr Allott said that she should “never should have submitted” to the arrest. “Women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested.” He has since apologised.


Memorial service for yachtsmen who ‘crost the bar’

MORE than 200 former crew members of the Royal Yacht Britannia and their families attended a memorial service on Saturday at Portsmouth Cathedral for the 41 members of the Association of Royal Yachtsmen who have died since 2020, most of whom were given restricted funerals owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, Portsmouth News reports. Among those remembered were the association’s founder, Albert “Dixie” Deane, and the Duke of Edinburgh. Readings included the Naval Prayer, and Lord Tennyson’s poem “Crossing the Bar”. The Dean, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, said: “This is the cathedral of the sea: it’s our identity.”


Chelmsford CathedralChelmsford Cathedral 

Second cathedral wins Eco-Church gold award

CHELMSFORD Cathedral has become the second cathedral in the UK, after Salisbury, to secure a gold Eco-Church Award from A Rocha UK. The cathedral no longer uses disposable cups and plates, has changed its lights to LED bulbs, installed motion sensors, deployed renewable electricity, and introduced pond dipping, bug hotels, and bird feeders in its grounds. Chelmsford diocese aims to be carbon-neutral by 2030. There are now 4000 Eco Churches in England and Wales.


City of London rejects plans affecting synagogue

THE City of London has rejected plans for an office block that threatened to darken the Bevis Marks synagogue, the UK’s oldest synagogue (News, 3 September). The 48-storey tower would have overshadowed the synagogue, which was built in 1701 and is lit by up to 240 candles, supplemented in 1928 by limited electric lighting. Its listed status prohibits any enhancement of the lighting. Councillors voted against the plans by 14 votes to seven.

ST MARY’S, HOOKRain riders: cyclists at the start of the Hook Church Big Sponsored Cycle Ride, launching the restoration and funding appeal for St Mary’s, Hook, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, on Saturday. The fund-raising is taking place in time for the 800th anniversary of the church’s construction, in 2025

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