Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Many people took the time to write to their MP to oppose an amendment that would completely decriminalise abortion in the UK and support pro-life amendments to the Health and Care Bill. The amendment to decriminalise abortion was withdrawn before it could even go to a vote, and there was strong support for the amendments even though they were withdrawn. Also the second reading of the Down’s Syndrome Bill was approved in the House of Commons, meaning that people with Down’s syndrome would be recognised as a minority group of people. This would ensure that they are not neglected and their abilities are recognised.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is when Jewish people remember the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem. For eight days Jewish families around the world are lighting a candle-holder called a menorah during Hanukkah. For the first time ever, on 5 December, the final night of the festival, the iconic London Eye will also be lit to symbolise a menorah. The world’s second largest Ferris wheel will be transformed as its 32 observation pods rotate, beaming lights across London. We can pray for the Light of God’s Truth to cut through the darkness in London and stream into our country’s towns and cities, bringing enlightenment and hope.
Rediscover Church, in Devon, has been sharing the spirit of Advent by distributing a thousand Christmas hampers to the needy for the past six years. The recipients often include families struggling with finances during the festive time when strains on bank accounts cause stress, anxiety and worry. With the reduction of Universal Credit and the ongoing effects of Covid-19, there is an even greater need for acts of kindness. The hampers hold a range of food to support people through the festive period. The church receives daily calls for help and support, and this is a practical way to make a difference while showing kindness and hope. The hampers are symbols of love that let people know that they are valued and cherished.
The impact of the Omicron variant on the UK is uncertain but may require a very stringent response, according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Ask God to give SAGE officials all the wisdom and stamina needed as they collect data on the variant. May they have ample discernment analysing the data and preparing for a potential wave of infections. Officials are throwing everything at a campaign to roll out booster jabs to all adults this winter in response to Omicron. Pray for Pfizer and others which have already begun to explore making new vaccines. The CEO of Moderna said it will take 95 days; also, the high number of mutations the virus uses to infect humans could mean that existing vaccines need to be modified and a higher dose booster jab needed to be the ‘first line of defence’. See
More than 17 million UK customers have now used a buy now pay later (BNPL) company to make an online purchase. The payment method is also set to have its biggest Christmas yet. BNPL firms allow people to manage their shopping, either by postponing their bill for a short while, or splitting it into more manageable chunks over time, interest free. But users too easily end up in debt and tougher rules are needed. Klarna, the biggest UK provider, has seen its customer base double to 15 million since 2020. Other companies, Clearpay and LayBuy, are also expanding fast. The fastest growth is among 40- and 50-year-olds. A recent Citizens Advice survey found almost one in ten plan to use BNPL for Christmas shopping. Citizens Advice urges consumers considering using BNPL to ensure they understand what they are signing up for, how they will make the repayments, and what will happen if they can't pay on time.
The Church of England has released a Christmas single as part of a campaign to encourage more people to hear the real Christmas story through their local church. The single, a new carol version of In the Bleak Midwinter by one of the country’s top young composers, Rebecca Dale, will form the soundtrack to this year’s CofE Christmas campaign. It was released on all streaming platforms on Wednesday 1 December and can be downloaded online. All royalties from the digital streams and downloads of the track will be donated to charity, helping people experiencing homelessness in the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that we often dress Christmas up with trimmings, but they are not the heart of Christmas. The only thing that makes Christmas perfect is Jesus, and the only thing we need to give him and each other is our hearts.
Although Storm Arwen has abated, the widespread disruption has left tens of thousands of people in the north of England still without electricity. Damage to power equipment has been described as unprecedented. As repairs are being made, more faults are being discovered and it is expected that properties in Cumbria may not have electricity until 8 December. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-59396135 On 30 November the Met Office reported, ‘There is an 80% probability of severe cold weather/icy conditions/heavy snow between 9am on Wednesday 1 December and midnight on Saturday 4 December in parts of England’. Prolonged periods of cold weather can be dangerous for older people, those with underlying health conditions, and young children. We can pray for a speedy return to full capacity electricity across all areas, and for friends, family, and neighbours to be aware of others who may be vulnerable and need support. See also
A quiet crisis has been unfolding in the homecare sector where the system is expected to reach breaking point this winter - unless urgent action is taken. Long-standing pressures on council funding meant that homecare providers were already operating on a shoestring with a limited capacity to withstand unforeseen shocks when Covid-19 hit. They face high fuel costs and unaffordable insurance, running the risk of closing. But demand for homecare is rising, with more complex requirements due to early hospital discharges. Workers face burnout. Unless additional funding is made available, we will likely see even more care staff leave this winter, at the worst possible time. Many disabled people choose to employ their own personal assistants to help them with tasks like getting out of bed in the morning and supporting them through the day so that they can work. There are 100,0000+ vacancies in the social care sector. See
Former first minister Arlene Foster has spoken out against those who say that religion and politics should never mix. When speaking at the St Patrick Centre to a live audience, she discussed her own faith as well as her political career. Expressing her frustration she said, ‘Christianity doesn’t call you to be neutral. It calls you to be salt and light about what you believe in. It does annoy me when people say you have to take religion out of politics and leave it at the door, or like it only happens at the weekend. It is part of who you are. Your Christianity and your faith is something that is with you all the time. You can’t just leave it at home on Sunday night and go out without it on Monday.’
When she checks her son at night, Sandy Birtles can hardly see her teenager for all the coats on his bed. The single mother of two says they have to be careful not to use too much hot water, and they do all they can to keep warm but the bills keep rising. ‘I do not have the heating on when the kids are at school. If I'm not running around and clearing up, then I'm wrapping up in a coat.’ She said that financial pressures mean she has been ‘penny-pinching all the time’, but rising energy bills have added to the strain. A charity has predicted that she - and millions of others - will face a particularly difficult bill shock early next April when domestic energy prices rise. Domestic gas bills will have doubled in 18 months. Pray for suppliers to give more support to struggling customers.