2,000 Food Banks in UK giving out food parcels

New research by the Independent Food Aid Network has supported what the Trussell Trust (the biggest food bank network in the UK) has been saying: food banks are having to give support to more and more people in the UK and the needs have been increasing over the last nine years. Professor Jon May and chair of Ifan announced: “There are now food banks in almost every community, from the East End of London to the Cotswolds. The spread of food banks maps growing problems of poverty across the UK, but also the growing drive among many thousands of people across the country to try and do something about those problems”.

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The reasons why people are having to turn to Food Banks to provide their food are varied:

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The Ifan survey revealed a wide variety of food-banks with some faith-based, others non-religious; some with strict rules on the amount of food given to individual clients, others with open-ended commitments to families in need; some requiring clients to have a voucher validated by outside agencies, others operating a self-referral system.

British government have repeatedly played down the rise of food banks, rejecting growing evidence that financial pressures on families caused by welfare cuts, benefit delays and low income have pushed a demand for emergency food. Recently, the prime minister, Theresa May, attempted to brush off claims that nurses had been forced to use food banks by saying there were “many complex reasons” why people use them. The graph above showed that there are different reasons why people use them but basically families in 2017 Britain are starving and need emergency food to survive.

Food bank investigation by the Sunday Mirror

The Trussell Trust is a 400 strong network of food banks in the UK and a case study in our GCSE Religious Studies.

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It is a charity founded on Christian principles. They work with people of all faiths and none (just like Christian Aid), and are inspired by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 35 – 36. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Students will recognise this as coming from the Parable of the Sheep and Goats which we learn in our studies of evil and suffering, as well as Christian beliefs and teachings. In the parable Jesus returns to reward all those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited those in prison, and cared for the sick, teaching Christians to care for those who are suffering. Jesus’ message here is that by ignoring a sick or hungry person, a Christian would be ignoring Jesus himself.

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The Trussell Trust’s vision is to end hunger and poverty in the UK and their mission is to bring communities together to end hunger and poverty in the UK by providing compassionate, practical help with dignity whilst challenging injustice.

Better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic

Hypocritical – behaving in a way that suggests one has higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.

The Pope who is the leader of the Catholic Church has today criticised Catholics who show off about attending Mass each week and being members of different Christian organisations but don’t “pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, [I lead] a double life’.”

This is not the first time the Pope has told Catholics to walk the walk as well as talk the talk of being a good Christian!

Family Court Refuses to Grant a 66 Year-old Woman a Divorce

In the new AQA GCSE for Religious Studies students need to know about divorce. In the UK there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The person who starts proceedings, (called the Petitioner) must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery (spouse has had sex with another person)
  • Unreasonable behaviour (see below)
  • Desertion (spouse has completely left you for 2 years or more which rarely gets used in divorce proceedings)
  • 2 years separation with consent (you and your spouse both agree to a divorce)
  • 5 years separation with no consent required (you or your spouse might not agree to divorce though you do have to be living apart for this)

Out of these five the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales is Unreasonable behaviour. For this you’ve got to show that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. If the allegations are particularly serious, e.g. violence, then one or two allegations might be enough. If the allegations are relatively mild, for example, carelessness with money or devoting too much time towards a career, then you might need five or six allegations.

Well, Tini Owens was refused a divorce from her husband Hugh Owens in the family court and so has now taken her case to the Court of Appeal. One of the three Appeal judges who is hearing her case, Sir James, said the judges would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.”

In the first failed effort at getting a divorce Ms Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her, including that he was “insensitive” in his “manner and tone” and said she was “constantly mistrusted” and felt unloved. “The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years,” she said in a witness statement. “There is no prospect of reconciliation.” The judge though failed to see this as unreasonable behaviour.

What do Christians and Muslims say about divorce?

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David Beckham praised as the Good Samaritan

You  may have read in a couple of newspapers over the weekend about how David Beckham, ex-Manchester United, LA Galaxy and England footballer, wife of the fashion designer and ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, had helped an elderly lady who fell over and banged her head at the side of the pavement. The Daily Mail headline said that when he offered the bottle of water he was being a good Samaritan. Photographs showed him pulling over to the side of the road when he saw the emergency:

good-samaritanOther news websites who reported the story repeatedly referred to David being a Good Samaritan… A five minute YouTube video from the Mormon channel tells you the Parable of the Good Samaritan which you can find in the Bible in Luke 10: 25-37.

The parable can teach Christians to care for others and show agape love (unconditional love to others simply because they are human). This means that in GCSE exam questions about  Christians opinions on medical ethics such as euthanasia, abortion, IVF, genetic engineering, transplant surgery; or how to use natural resources and the environment when it impacts future generations; or whether to go to war or not; or whether punishment should bring reform and reparation; you might refer to the Parable of the Good Samaritan as making a Christian act in a way to help others and show agape.

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#packitout

Have you heard of the friends who are walking famous hiking trails and picking up rubbish as they go? The project called #packitout has grown and grown, with new trails and hikes planned for 2017. You can follow their 2016 Pacific Crest Trail and read about how their love of the outdoors lead them to clean up other people’s mess as they walked along. You can watch a short video of Seth and Paul’s adventures.

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Seth said “If you go to someone’s home and it’s really clean, you’re like, ‘I’m not going to throw trash on their floor.’ I hope people will start seeing the outdoors as less of a commodity and more of a community that we respect and value.”

Danish Care Worker voted most Most Inspiring Person of 2016 by German magazine

Read about how Anja Ringgren Lovén rescued a Nigerian ‘witch child’ to be voted the Most Inspiring Person of 2016, ahead of President Obama, the Dalai Lama, Charlize Theron, Pope Francis and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Reading the article reminded me of assemblies this week about Giving and showing kindness to others, as well as a word we’ve referred to in Year 11 and Year 10 GCSE classes: agape. Unconditional love, or agape, is something to remember when you’re looking for gifts to bring in for the charity shoebox collections, or the Food Bank donations, that are big on the agenda this December.

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The Lost Boys of Sudan

They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.” Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety.  Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3,600 lost boys, as well as girls, to the West. Their story has been told in a feature length film as well as documentaries.

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The Good Lie is a film with Reese Witherspoon playing an employment agency counsellor who has been enlisted to help find the young Sudanese refugees find jobs.

  1. What was your immediate response to the film? Were there any scenes that you found particularly powerful and memorable, and why?
  2. How does Margaret Nagle’s script put the Sudanese characters at the centre of the story? What is the significance of Carrie’s role? What is the effect of having their different perspectives brought together in one story?
  3. What did you think of the performances of the four lead Sudanese actors – Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel? What unique qualities and life experiences do they bring to their individual roles, and to the film as a whole? ‘This is my story being told here.’ – Actor Emmanuel Jal
  4. How did you feel during the early scenes in the film, when we see the children escaping violence and undertaking a tough journey? How do the group form the emotional bonds which will sustain them?
  5. How did you react to the character of Carrie, and what emotional journey does she go on over the course of the film? How is she changed by her relationship with the refugees? ‘Carrie’s experience of getting to know these three boys and their sister really opens her up in a way she hasn’t before.’ – Actress Reese Witherspoon
  6. How did you feel about the character of Mamere, and the emotional journey he goes on throughout the film? What are his priorities? How did you react to his decision to tell a ‘good lie’? ‘He has to be strong. He has to be the guy that takes the lead and looks after his family.’ – Actor Arnold Oceng
  7. How, and why, do Carrie and Jack (Corey Stoll) develop compassion and understanding for the refugees? How can we learn to listen to the stories of those who’ve lived very different lives from us? ‘What’s their story, anyway?’ – Jack
  8. What motivates Mamere to make his decision at the end of the story? Do you think he was right to tell his ‘good lie’, and why or why not? Under what circumstances, if any, might lying be justified?
  9. Does the film have anything to say about our responsibility for those who aren’t family, or who aren’t even known to us personally? In today’s connected world, how might our actions and attitudes affect people on the other side of the globe?
  10. What hopeful message does The Good Lie have for Sudan, and for people everywhere who have been affected by conflict? What messages might the story of Sudan’s Lost Boys have for those of us who haven’t experienced this kind of suffering first-hand? ‘The journey is not yet finished… because this is the story of the nation.’ – Actor Emmanuel Jal
  11. What does The Good Lie have to say about the power of sacrifice? Why do you think self-sacrifice is such an important theme in so many stories? Which examples of self-sacrifice have been particularly poignant to you?
  12. How do the film’s characters learn the importance of human connection? How might life be different if we all felt able to ‘lean on’ each other in this way? ‘We find out through the course of the story . . . the importance of human connection, and how much we need each other, to communicate, to lean on, to provide for each other.’ – Actress Reese Witherspoon

On YouTube you can watch a CBS documentary in 3 parts tell the story of the Lost Boys; a BBC documentary which provides a follow up story to their tale; a NY Times clip about a Lost Boy who joined the Police; and a documentary called Lost Boys of Sudan (2003) with a grainy trailer on YouTube; and the documentary which originally sparked my interest in this story which was narrated by Nicole Kidman called God Grew Tired of Us.

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