Displaying items by tag: United Kingdom
Britain is considering becoming the first country to send Western tanks to Ukraine in what would be a major stepping up of international support. Last week foreign secretary James Cleverly said Britain was open to sending Ukraine Challenger II battle tanks and ‘will continue to evolve our support as Kyiv readies the next phase of their self-defence’. The remarks were a shift in the Government’s position, with No 10 previously being in step with other Nato allies in being reluctant to supply heavy armoured vehicles. Any pledge by the UK could be made at the next meeting of the US-led Ramstein Contact Group of international supporters of Ukraine, due next week. Defence sources said the UK could supply Volodymyr Zelensky with the British Army’s main battle tank to encourage other Western allies to follow suit and stop the war.
There has been a significant downturn in avian influenza cases since the beginning of November. Case rates peaked at over six a day in mid-October, but are now running at less than one a day, the majority of those being backyard flocks: the housing order for kept birds in England and Wales is seen as a contributing factor. Epidemiologists still predict another peak and are genuinely perplexed as to why we have not seen one yet, as there is a sustained increase in winter cases in wild bird carcasses. Housing orders and good biosecurity by commercial flock owners no doubt continue to play their part. Thank God for His mercy and continue to pray for His protection as the upturn threat is still anticipated for our wild bird colonies.
Humanitarian workers Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry were last seen on 6 January heading to Soledar, where fighting is intense. The Foreign Office is supporting their families. Christopher travelled to Ukraine to help people to evacuate Bakhmut, in the eastern Donbas region. He recently described having a ‘drive to help, as the people here are so lovely’. He spoke of continuous bombardment as he worked near the front line. Andrew wrote in his online crowdfunding page for vehicle repairs, fuel and equipment to help evacuate civilians. He also has been helping children and families to flee the front line, delivering food and medicines and assisting elderly people move away from the battlefront. On 13 January the Russian Wagner group said it had found the body of one of the two missing men in eastern Ukraine. The Foreign Office has not confirmed the claim and is in touch with Ukrainian authorities. See
One patient’s time in A & E: ‘I witnessed the devastation of thirteen years of government underfunding of emergency care. After I phoned 111 they told me to travel immediately to my local hospital’s emergency department. They booked me in for a 9pm arrival time. I imagined I would be seen then but there were sixteen ambulances waiting to offload their patients. The waiting room was a vision of hell. Every chair was occupied. Sick people looking dangerously unwell leaned against walls; the wait went on and on for all of us. I was seen by a doctor at 3am. During those six hours, I witnessed a man with what appeared to be cardiac symptoms collapsed onto the floor, possibly from a heart attack. A toddler was screaming “It hurts, it hurts!” for almost three hours without a break. It was devastating to hear. When I asked a nurse if this was an especially busy night, she said, “This is a quiet one”.’
Health secretary Steve Barclay will hold another round of talks with union leaders ahead of planned strikes by nurses. Whitehall said ministers were working on options for resolving the strikes, which could include a one-off payment to reflect cost of living pressures. They recognised that union leaders ‘have to get something for this year’ before they will consider calling off the current wave of industrial action. What level of payment might be offered, and how it could be funded, is not yet clear. There are also concerns that any payment to resolve the health dispute would set a precedent for other sectors facing industrial strife, including education and transport, potentially landing the taxpayer with a bill running into billions of pounds. The moves came as 25,000 ambulance workers staged a second day of walkouts and unions warned they could boycott talks on the next pay round in April.
This week the Conservative and Labour Party Leaders delivered speeches with their ideas and policies to tackle the challenges we face. Both agree that only through change will we restore hope and progress. Every new leader has bold ambitions to change the country, then they realise they are not fully in control. What a contrast to biblical hope, which is not uncertain, but solid, sure and reliable. This hope is the hope of glory to come. We live praying for improvements and policies that will uphold the most vulnerable in our society; but we do not depend on that; our happiness is not based on it. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:12), and our hope is stored up in heaven (1 Peter 1:3). Whatever is achieved over the next 18 months, we can be thankful to God that we are looking forward to a city whose foundations can never be shaken.
Investment into expanding sewage treatment works by Thames Water falls far short of what is needed to stop raw sewage discharges into rivers, according to a campaign group who analysed 106 treatment works from the Chilterns into the Cotswolds. A treatment works is where wastewater is stored and treated, before being released to the environment. The research suggested three-quarters of the works examined did not have enough capacity to cope with the amount of wastewater from the population, and therefore increases the likelihood of raw sewage being released to the environment. Investment plans for 2020 to 2025 by Thames Water involved only 15 of 83 works in the area which needed their capacity increased now, or in two years. The expansion of a sixteenth treatment works in the area has been cancelled. Pray for an end to appalling stewardship of assets that were privatised a third of a century ago.
Rishi Sunak wants all pupils to study maths until the age of 18, arguing that too many of the country’s children are being ‘let down’ by leaving school without the numeracy skills to prosper in the workplace. He is making a shake-up of education beyond the age of 16 one of the defining priorities of his early tenure in No 10. The reorganisation has been in the pipeline for a while and was addressed on 4 January, when Mr Sunak said that one of the biggest changes needed in education is to reimagine our approach to numeracy. Only half of all 16- to 19-year-olds study any maths at all, in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job. Future jobs will require more analytical skills than ever before. Around eight million adults in England have the numeracy skills of primary school children, according to Downing Street.
The Cry is a gathering of Christians from across the nation to pray for revival at Wembley Arena on 7 January focusing on empowering young people and refreshing the body of Christ. This is the first of a series of such gatherings, across the nation and internationally, over 2023. Please consider attending, or praying at home, for a generation of young people to arise: people who know they are forgiven, loved by Father God and know His Word. May they be a generation of overcomers, because they have seen and overcome the enemy in their own lives. We can pray for the power of the cross to rend their hearts so that they move in humility, stand in purity, withstand the culture of the world around them, and pioneer new territory for the Kingdom in today’s society. May friendship with Jesus undergird them, strengthen and lead them in all His ways.
The bosses of Britain’s biggest companies will have made more money in 2023 by Thursday afternoon than the average UK worker will earn in the entire year. TUC’s Paul Nowak called on the Government to ‘bring back some fairness on pay’. ‘Everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. But working people are told not to ask for more. FTSE 100 chief executives are paid £3.4m on average, which is 103 times the £33,000 average full time worker’s salary. The figures highlight how executive pay has increased dramatically after a dip during the pandemic, while ordinary workers are struggling to secure pay rises anywhere near inflation. Workers should have seats on executive pay committees to bring some common sense to top pay. And ministers must set out plans for fair pay for everyone, starting by agreeing to pay negotiations in the public sector.’