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UK news in brief

27 May 2022


Protesters at RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, UK on Saturday

Protesters at RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, UK on Saturday

Christian groups join protest against nuclear weapons

MEMBERS of the Anglican Pacificist Fellowship (APF) were among the 200 demonstrators who gathered at RAF Lakenheath, in Suffolk, on Saturday, after reports that US nuclear weapons would be returned to the base, 14 years after they were first removed. The Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Quakers were also represented. A message was read out from the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, who said: “The return of nuclear weapons on British soil represents a very dangerous development; one that must not go without challenge or protest.”


Government must tackle energy crisis, charity says

THE Children’s Society has warned of “awful consequences for families who are barely managing” after Ofgem revealed that typical annual bills could rise to £2800 a year in October. The energy regulator plans to raise the cap on what suppliers can charge by a further £800 over the year, on top of the £700 increase introduced in April (News, 22 October). Its chief executive, Mark Russell, said on Tuesday: “The Government must step up quickly to meet the huge scale of the challenge ahead.”


Retired Clergy Association appoints new chair

THE Retired Clergy Association of the Church of England (RCA) has appointed a former Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, as its new chair. The current chair, a former Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Ian Brackley, will stand down in the autumn. The RCA seeks to support 3000 retired clergy across the country.


Chichester awarded £1.6 million to ‘revitalise’ Crawley

THE diocese of Chichester has been awarded £1.6 million in Strategic Development Funding (SDF) to work with St John’s, Crawley, an HTB church-plant, to help “revitalise” the town in the wake of the pandemic. Crawley was among the towns worst affected by unemployment, debt, hunger, homelessness, and mental ill health during national lockdowns. The Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Revd Ruth Bushyager, said: “Back in 2017, St John’s Crawley was revitalised in partnership with St Peter’s Brighton with funding from the SDF. . . Five years on, we are delighted that the SDF board are keen to invest further. . . Our vision is to see St John’s partner with churches in West Green and Three Bridges, and on new estates, so that even more people come to discover the saving grace of Jesus Christ.”


Archbishop urges MPs to amend Online Safety Bill

THE Archbishop of York, together with 23 bishops and faith leaders, has called for a series of amendments to the Online Safety Bill to increase protection of children. These include mandatory standards for age-checking and an enforceable code of practice. In a letter to The Times on Tuesday, they write: “We do not wish to see them locked out of the digital world but their safety and autonomy online must be protected. The Bill should ensure that the tech sector creates services that are age appropriate by design and default and they must be accountable when they fail to do so.”


Lichfield Cathedral becomes ‘Healthy Healing Hub’

LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL has been designated a Healthy Healing Hub — a place that supports health and well-being in the community — in partnership with the Guild of Health and St Raphael, a church voluntary organisation that explores the link between faith and health. As a “Gold-Tier” Healthy Healing Hub, the cathedral will also offer training to allow other organisations within the diocese to become hubs. www.lichfield-cathedral.org/hhh


Welsh Bishop launches cost-of-living toolkit

AN ONLINE toolkit to help churches to address the cost-of-living crisis has been launched by the Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd June Osborne. It includes practical information about setting up foodbanks and community pantries and tackling period poverty, and advice on how to lobby MPs and petitions to sign. About one quarter of people in Wales are living in poverty, and up to 45 per cent of households experience fuel poverty.


Newcome joins new select committee on social care

THE Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, has been appointed to a new House of Lords select committee on adult social care. The committee is to report on the planning and delivery of adult-social-care services by 30 November 2022.


Modern-slavery app finds situations to investigate

ONE third of the 7800 reports of modern slavery made through the free Safe Car Wash app since its launch in 2018 (News, 1 June 2018) have been of enough concern to indicate potential labour exploitation, its creators have said. The app was commissioned by the Church of England’s Clewer Initiative, a three-year project to help dioceses to detect modern slavery and support victims (News, 20 October 2017). The idea was to identify exploitation in the hand-car-washing sector by allowing users to report to statutory organisations. The app has been downloaded 31,000 times. It has recently been updated, allowing users to report concerns automatically to the Modern Slavery Helpline at the touch of a button.


Spurgeon’s to award degrees in its name

SPURGEON’S COLLEGE, the Baptist Bible college in London, has secured Full Degree Awarding Powers from the Office for Students after an assessment by the Quality Assurance Agency. Students joining its courses from the next academic year will have their qualifications awarded in its name for the first time. The award is not subject-specific, and allows the college to create new degrees in other disciplines.


ISB to report on issues at Christ Church, Oxford

THE new Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) has announced the terms of reference of its investigation into the handling of safeguarding concerns at Christ Church, Oxford. A statement from its chair, Dr Maggie Atkinson, on Thursday, said that it was “important that those who have been caused pain by what has happened, including the former Dean, have their concerns heard and reviewed by an independent body”. The review would not, however, consider the long-running dispute between the former Dean, Professor Martyn Percy, and the college. The review will begin at the end of May, and the final report is to be published by the end of January. The ISB was created to provide scrutiny of the National Safeguarding Team (NST). In September 2020, the NST cleared Professor Percy of all safeguarding charges (News, 8 September 2020).

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