Food Banks struggle in school holidays

Food Banks are struggling to meet the demand for food during the school holidays.  David McAuley, chief executive of anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust, has warned that some hubs within the 420-strong network are running dangerously low on supplies.

“Rising demand in the summer holidays as families struggle to get by without free school meals” is at the root of the problem, he said.

Rev Chris Lewis who helps at a Swansea Food Bank said that last Friday,  “We got to a critically low level. The absence of free school meals during holidays contributes to a certain amount of hardship and pressure on food banks.  I wasn’t able to count exactly how many people came in on Friday because I had to go out and get a bag of large potatoes from off site to help with the demand.”

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We learn about the Trussell Trust as part of our GCSE in Religious Studies as we look at Christian Practices.

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In April 2017 Food Banks were in the news when Theresa May as part of her election campaign went onto BBC television and responded to the presenter Andrew Marr’s point that NHS nurses were having to go to Food Banks which was surely wrong.

Theresa May replied: “There are many complex reasons why people go to food banks and I want to create an economy where we have a strong economy where we pay for public services that we need but we are also creating secure jobs.”

Marr said: “The problem people have is that they haven’t got enough money to eat at the moment.”

The Prime Minister said: “Yes, and you’re only going to be able to do this if you have strength in the economy.”

Bread can’t be gluten free says Catholic Church

It’s not a hugely exciting headline. The Vatican (home of the Catholic Church) has said that the bread which is used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic Mass must not be gluten-free – although it may be made from genetically modified organisms. Cardinal Robert Sarah explained that the bread can be low-gluten but should have enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives. What does make it exciting for GCSE Religious Studies students is that the article which explains these precise rules also refers to the fact that Roman Catholics believe the bread and wine served at the Eucharist are converted into the body and blood of Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.

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The Eucharist, which is also called the Holy Communion, Mass, the Lord’s Supper or the Divine Liturgy, is a sacrament accepted by almost all Christians. Most students have heard of the Last Supper and how Christians re-enact the key moment on at least a weekly basis when they celebrate the Eucharist.

The idea of transubstantiation helps explain why in the Catholic Church women can’t be priests, as the Eucharist has to be performed by a male priest for he is acting as Jesus ‘in loco Christos’ when the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Is the 1967 Abortion Act about to get an overhaul?

In our GCSE Religious Studies classes we learn that in England and Wales women have to prove to a doctor that carrying on with the pregnancy is likely to cause harm to health or wellbeing to get permission for a termination. Without this permission, abortion is a criminal offence. There might be changes coming the way of the Abortion law because doctors at the British Medical Association’s annual conference have just voted to scrap that rule.

At the doctor’s annual conference in Bournemouth they decided to stick with the 24 week limit on abortion, but thought the law making abortion illegal should be changed: the majority of doctors were clear that abortion should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one. It will be interesting in the coming years whether the doctors are able to influence the politicians into the same mindset. Resisting such thinking is Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, who said “This decision defies common sense and will dismay thousands of ordinary doctors and nurses with their unprecedented decision.”

Boys Wear Skirts in Uniform Protest

A school in Exeter who has the school uniform rule that male pupils must wear trousers and female pupils can wear trousers or tartan skirts has been on the receiving end of a protest by about 30 male students who turned up to school wearing skirts.

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A mum of a male students at the school, Claire Reeves, said she’d asked the school about her son being able to wear shorts, but had not got anywhere.

“I feel extremely proud of them all for standing up for their rights. People are always talking about equal right for males and females and school uniform shouldn’t be any different”, she said.

The pupils from ISCA Academy in Exeter had asked permission to change their uniform and allow shorts because of the hot weather. One of the boys who took part in the protest said: “We’re not allowed to wear shorts, and I’m not sitting in trousers all day, it’s a bit hot.” The boys who are protesting are hoping that another 100 or so male students will join in the protest and wear skirts on Friday too.

Battle of the Sexes

Today in most tennis tournaments, women earn 20% less than men. Equal pay is regularly opposed by male players and people in the tennis industry, most recently by a former US tennis centre CEO Raymond Moore, who said female tennis players “ride on the coattails of the men,” and Novak Djokovic, who said men deserve higher prize money because their matches are more popular.

In 1973, Billie Jean King the women’s tennis number 1 took on Bobby Riggs a former men’s number 1 and won. Her victory changed women’s tennis considerably. Forty years later there might not be complete equality but without Billie Jean King’s tennis match called the Battle of the Sexes, things might be a whole lot worse.

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A new film out this year called Battle of the Sexes will help younger tennis fans and the wider public understand how important that tennis match in 1973 was. Starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell the trailer has just been released and people are saying it might end up being an Oscar contender.

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Broken – a TV series with plenty of religious content to learn from

The six-part series called Broken, which stars Sean Bean and Anna Friel, first aired on Tuesday 30th May. If you missed the first episode go to BBC iPlayer to catch up (until mid-July). Why? Well for a drip feed of Catholic religious beliefs, teachings and practice for the AQA Component 1 exam, this TV series is a ‘godsend’!

You will be able to see in the first episode the role of a priest in the local community; the preparations for First Holy Communion; the Eucharist; the importance of prayer; the last rites for a dead person and confession. If you’ve never been inside a Christian church before, or it has been a long time, then just by watching this drama by Jimmy McGovern you’ll see how the place of worship is used by a community in Northern England.

To top it off there is also a mention of Food Banks – perfect GCSE content!

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Is it fair that a woman avoids a custodial sentence simply because she’s an exceptional student?

An Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend could be spared a custodial sentence because of her “extraordinary” talent, a court heard.  The aspiring heart surgeon called Lavinia Woodward stabbed her Cambridge-educated boyfriend, who she met on the Tinder dating app, in the leg before hurling a laptop, glass and a jam jar at him during a drug-fuelled rage at Christ Church college, Oxford. The 24-year-old admitted to a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court, and the offence which would normally carry a custodial sentence, might not result in prison because the  Judge Ian Pringle suggested she may be spared jail because of her academic record. 

He said: “It seems to me that if this was a one-off, a complete one-off, to prevent this extraordinary, able young lady from not following her long-held desire to enter the profession she wishes to, would be a sentence which would be too severe.”

Is this fair? Would the same mercy be given to another defendant with the aim of becoming a care assistant, or one who was a checkout assistant at Tesco with aspirations towards becoming a supervisor? The Daily Telegraph even questions whether there is an increase in the punishment by merit!

Francis FitzGibbon, the chair of the Criminal Bar Association, told the BBC’s Today programme the case was “unusual”. “The judge must take into account determination or demonstration of steps to address addiction, so it sounds as though he’s giving her a chance and I think the judge would do that for anyone wherever they came from in the right circumstances. I don’t know if her future prospects are the critical factor in this. Maybe if she does really badly [on her drug rehabilitation] he’ll think again.”