Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Badminton England recently launched a strategy aimed at making the game the most inclusive and accessible in the country. As part of the plan, it intends to open up 200 new spaces for playing badminton, including faith spaces like church halls. Lisa Elliott, a former professional badminton player now affiliated with Christians in Sport (CIS), commended the strategy while cautioning against pressuring players to attend church events. She suggested that this initiative could be a wonderful chance for churches to foster friendships, build relationships, and pray, with the hope that it may lead to meaningful connections in the future. Christians in Sport, an organisation that assists athletes in living out and sharing their faith, collaborates with sportspeople like Elliott to integrate their beliefs with their sporting endeavours.
A family has been allowed to name their late 19-year-old daughter, Sudiksha Thirumalesh, after being denied the opportunity to seek specialist treatment abroad due to restrictive reporting regulations. Sudiksha, who suffered from a rare genetic mitochondrial disease, was engaged in a legal battle with the NHS for over six months to seek experimental treatment that could potentially have saved her life. Although she was fully conscious and able to communicate, a court order prevented her and her family from raising funds to travel to Canada for a clinical trial. Sudiksha's situation gained significant media attention, especially after her tragic death. The family, who are committed Christians, have expressed their distress at the treatment they received from the hospital trust and the courts. They felt silenced, intimidated, and prevented from accessing potential life-saving treatment for Sudiksha. Now they hope to seek justice for her and raise awareness of how critical care decisions are made in the NHS and the courts. There are calls for a more transparent and open system to prevent similar ordeals for other patients and families.
Ian Cole, founder of World Prayer Centre, will be celebrating his 80th birthday by embarking on an eight-mile sponsored "Walk of Blessing" across parts of South Birmingham. The walk, taking place on 30 September, aims to pray blessings on every church and school along the route. Ian has set a sponsorship target of £80,000 (£1,000 for each year of his life) and is asking for support based on the number 8 (£8, £18, £80, £800, £8,000...). So far, £22,773 has been raised. He was recently given the ‘all clear’ after being diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer in 2020. The money raised from the challenge will benefit three charities: World Prayer Centre, Love Your Neighbour (based in inner-city Birmingham), and Advantage Africa (working among the poorest in Kenya and Uganda). World Prayer Centre operates locally, nationally, and globally. The WPC team and Ian's family will join him on the walk, and they are thrilled for any sponsorship support as Ian celebrates his milestone birthday and his service for God and the body of Christ.
The UK's largest untapped oil field has been approved for development by regulators. It is estimated that Rosebank, 80 miles west of Shetland, could produce 300 million barrels of oil - but opponents say those could account for 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The lead company Equinor puts the capacity at about 70,000 barrels per day, which the BBC calculates would be about 10% of the UK’s current daily production. At that rate it would take about twelve years to extract the recoverable oil, although other groups have made higher estimates of the amount that could be found. The Government has welcomed the decision, saying it will raise billions of pounds and ‘make us more secure against tyrants like Putin’. Rishi Sunak said, ‘As we make the transition to renewables, we will still need oil and gas: it makes sense to use our own’. But Scotland's first minister Humza Yousaf said he was ‘disappointed’, while the Green Party called the decision ‘morally obscene’.
Several organisations, including councils, solicitors, an NHS trust, and the police, have faced reprimands for breaching the personal data of domestic abuse victims in the UK. The Information Commissioner has warned that such data breaches put the lives of victims at risk, with many cases involving the disclosure of the victim's home address to their alleged abuser. The breaches have included accidental messages revealing new addresses, and the posting of court bundles containing addresses to the wrong recipient, necessitating urgent relocation of victims. The commissioner has issued reprimands to seven organisations involved in data violations impacting domestic abuse survivors since June 2022. He has called for proper training and systems to prevent such incidents in the future. Domestic abuse charities emphasise the importance of protecting personal information, as abusers often escalate their control after separation. The data violations, which are seen as severely undermining women's safety, highlight the urgent need for improved responses to domestic abuse by public services.
University students in the UK are facing unprecedented rent increases as the value of maintenance loans fails to keep pace. Rents have risen by over 8% since 2022, with some cases seeing increases of up to 27%. The demand for accommodation has soared, with nearly 390,000 more students needing housing in the past decade. Rising operational and development costs, high inflation, and a decline in new bed space delivery have contributed to the increases. The average private sector rent outside London now exceeds £7,600 per year, consuming 77% of the maximum student maintenance loan allowance. Fewer than 10% of beds in major university cities are affordable to students receiving maintenance loans and grants. Rental growth in purpose-built student accommodation has reached 9.4%, exacerbating the affordability challenge. Students are increasingly taking on part-time work to cover expenses, negatively impacting their studies. To address the crisis, there have been calls for increased maintenance loans, rent freezes, and rent controls.
The founder of Soul Survivor Watford has been referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) following a national safeguarding investigation that found he had engaged in inappropriate relationships and physical interactions with young individuals. The Church of England has confirmed that a referral has been made for Canon Rev Mike Pilavachi to be considered for the DBS barred lists, which prohibit individuals from working with vulnerable groups. The DBS will assess whether Pilavachi should be placed on either or both of the lists. Pilavachi resigned from his position as associate pastor of Soul Survivor Watford in July and stated that he would not comment further on the allegations, expressing his desire for the healing of the Church and seeking forgiveness from those he may have hurt. The DBS does not comment on individual cases.
Officials in Glasgow are expected to approve plans for the UK's first drug consumption room. The facility, known as the Safe Drug Consumption Facility (SDFC), would allow users to take their own drugs under the supervision of health professionals. Campaigners believe the facility could be ‘life-changing’ in addressing Scotland's high drug death rate, which remains the highest in Europe. The UK government does not support the plans but has stated it will not block the pilot. The proposed location for the facility is in Glasgow's east end, where a heroin assisted treatment service has been operating since 2019. The Scottish government has committed funding for the first year of operation, and Glasgow's Health and Social Care Partnership will cover building costs and necessary redesign. The plans will be presented to the city council's Integration Joint Board for approval. The move comes after the city council became the first local authority in the UK to formally support the decriminalisation of drug consumption.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has defended the country's commitment to its net-zero targets despite criticism from the government's Climate Change Committee (CCC). In response to concerns about the UK's approach to climate change, Sunak emphasised his confidence in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. However, the recent overhaul of green policies, including a five-year delay in the ban on new petrol and diesel cars, has faced backlash, with the CCC stating that it sets the country back. Sunak framed these policy changes as pragmatic, emphasising the costs of low-carbon technology. The debate highlights the tension between political priorities and climate objectives. Critics argue that these alterations could hinder the UK's ability to meet legally binding climate goals. The controversy comes amid the backdrop of preparations for an expected general election, with the Conservative Party, under Sunak's leadership, seeking to create distinctions between itself and opposition parties.
Over 100 schools in Bristol have faced criticism for using the Think Family Education (TFE) app, which provides safeguarding leads with easy access to pupils' and their families' interactions with police, child protection, and welfare services. Staff using the app have reportedly kept it secret from parents and carers. The city council and Avon and Somerset police, who collaborated on the system, maintain that the app is meant to protect children and is not secretive, with information about its existence publicly available. Critics argue that most parents are unaware of the app's existence, and that it should be shut down to prevent the profiling and criminalisation of children. The app draws data from the Think Family database, which contains information from around 50,000 families in Bristol, collected from various agencies. It uses ‘targeted analytics’ to identify children at risk of exploitation, though critics argue it may disproportionately affect children from minority ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds.