Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Hope is on the horizon. Health secretary Matt Hancock predicted that every adult would be offered a Covid vaccine by the autumn, as regular rapid testing for people without coronavirus symptoms started this week. Some high street pharmacies started vaccinating people from priority groups on 14 January, with 200 providing jabs in the following two weeks. The chemists will offer appointments to those invited by letter. Anyone who does not want to travel to these sites can still be vaccinated by their local GP or hospital service, but they may have to wait longer. Over 2.6 million people have now received their first dose.
Parents will be able to claim food vouchers from 18 January, after an outcry over paltry free school meal parcels. Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs he was 'absolutely disgusted' by images shared by angry parents of the meagre contents of food packages which lacked the components of a rounded diet and fell short of the £15-per-child value. Boris Johnson branded the boxes 'disgraceful' and 'an insult to the families receiving them'. Catering firm Chartwells will also start including breakfast in free school meal deliveries in response to the fierce criticism of its meagre parcels.
Fraudsters are sending out fake texts offering a Covid vaccine, trying to steal personal and financial information. Other scams include selling fake Covid cures and non-existent or low- quality PPE, as well as posing online as official sources to steal personal and banking details from victims. One scam message reading 'We have identified that you are eligible for your vaccine' prompts people to click on a link to 'apply’ for it. Pray for more police warnings about providing financial details to strangers. Criminals preying on people's fears over the pandemic are stealing millions of pounds, according to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. There have been fraud attempts posted on local Facebook pages and an ‘extremely convincing’ fake NHS website. Action Fraud warns people to never give out personal details to organisations or people before verifying their credentials first, even if the message appears to be genuine. See
Pastor Paul Song was a volunteer prison chaplain at HMP Brixton for 19 years, bringing many to Christ. In 2015, a Muslim imam became senior chaplain and placed heavy restrictions on the pastor's ministry, eventually banning him from the prison without explanation. Numerous other Christian prison volunteers leading Alpha courses, Christian drama courses, prayer groups and other vital ministries were banned from the prison. After taking the Ministry of Justice to court, Pastor Song was promised he would be allowed to return. But then he spoke to the media about the reality of Islamic extremism and radicalisation at HMP Brixton (see). As a result, he was suspended from prison work for ten years. He sought a judicial review of this decision on 12 January. At the time of writing the outcome is not known.
Hedgerows play an important role in the British countryside. They mark boundaries, shape landscapes, provide wildlife havens, and control drought, pollution and soil erosion. As enclaves of relatively 'wild nature' amidst sometimes intensively managed farmland, and providing all these services, they are also powerful symbols of God's loving and caring presence (through His creation and His people) in the midst of sometimes destructive human activity and endeavour. However, many of the best hedgerows have declined in recent decades and need to be repaired, protected, and maintained. Give thanks for the beauty and usefulness of our hedgerows and pray that landowners will care better for them.
Mary, a former resident of Marianvale Home for mothers and babies in Newry, said, ‘My baby was taken from me. We have been asking the Executive to set up an inquiry for years. Ministers have brushed us aside.’ Her statement echoes the cry of women and babies in near-identical institutions who suffered arbitrary detention, forced labour, ill-treatment, and the removal and forced adoption of their babies. These criminal acts were carried out by both Catholic and Protestant churches and organisations. They enforced a regime of praying, knitting and scrubbing floors. Women were treated as prisoners, not expectant mothers. There were over a dozen of these institutions, where 7,500 women and girls gave birth. The last one closed in the 1990s. Two UN committees have recommended that the government should establish an inquiry into these abuses.
The following is based on prayers by Suzanne Ferrett. God is changing the face of the Church and resetting society values. Pray that across our nation, every shift and change which is taking place will move us closer to the way He created us to live, aligning the lives of individuals, families, and communities with His heart, His values and the plans within His word. For those changes to last beyond the limits of our current lockdown, forming a new foundation on which society will rebuild. God is re-aligning this nation. Pray for righteousness, justice, honesty, truth, mercy, godly discernment, and divine wisdom to be the foundations upon which this nation will build. Pray also for the Lordship and Sovereign will of God over all trading negotiations taking place, so that this nation will be aligned and connected for trade according to God’s design. May the complexities of new arrangements be understood and smoothed.
The Met Office issued amber ice snow and flood warnings on 14 January. Nearly 12 inches of snow was predicted over eastern Scotland and north-east England. Overnight temperatures are expected to fall to -7C in eastern England, while Scotland could plunge to -12C. Snow and ice is anticipated down the length of the Pennines as far as the Peak District. The rest of England will see heavy rain and flooding. Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust is operating a mass vaccination centre, but has urged the elderly to rebook another time for their jabs to avoid the treacherous conditions. Pray for them to be safe and warm as more wintry weather is forecast in the next few days. There are 100+ flood alerts across England. Pray for the safety of families living in flood-prone districts and for all who have to travel on flood-hit motorways. See
The home secretary has said the government will not announce new Covid restrictions before the weekend, but did not rule out further measures being put forward next week. It is thought ministers are considering requiring masks to be worn outside or allowing people to exercise only with people from the same household. Mrs Patel emphasised the current stay-at-home rules, under which people are only allowed to go out for a limited number of reasons, including work, essential shopping and providing care to a vulnerable person. Asked whether further restrictions could include a three-metre social distancing rule, or the requirement to wear masks outside, the home secretary said, ‘The plans are very much to enforce the rules. This isn't about new rules coming in - we're going to stick with enforcing the current measures.’ But she did not rule out new measures being announced next week and would move more quickly to fine people who break the rules.
Boris Johnson warned the coming weeks will be the hardest yet, in another national lockdown for England. Schools and universities must switch to online learning, and summer exams will not go ahead. Pray for anxious families facing isolation at home with lack of income or adequate technology to support their stay-at-home school children or effectively work from home. May God give them peace of mind and hope for the future. Some schools are open for vulnerable and key workers' children. Pray for those who are caring for these groups to have a full complement of staff to meet students’ needs, and be able to implement appropriate safety measures to prevent pandemic transmission. Pray for the children who will not now be taking their exams this summer. May the educators and assessors be anointed to give honest and fair grades. Pray also that this lockdown will prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed in the next few weeks.