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Latest News From Ekklesia

News Briefing and Comment
Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:28:39 +0200

Christian Aid launches appeal for Sierra Leone mudslide survivors

Christian Aid has launched a public appeal for emergency funds to support its relief operation for families devastated by the flooding and mudslide disaster in Sierra Leone.

Christian Aid has launched a public appeal for emergency funds to support its relief operation for families devastated by the flooding and mudslide disaster in Sierra Leone.

Some 3,000 people lost their homes after seasonal rains caused a landslide that submerged entire communities in Regent and its environs – a mountainous area on the outskirts of the capital city, Freetown.

To date, nearly 350 people are known to have died, including more than 120 children. A further 600 individuals remain unaccounted for, while over 100 people are severely injured. The number of fatalities is expected to rise as the rescue efforts continue.

Using emergency funds, Christian Aid will work through its local partners in Freetown to reach 1,000 survivors of the disaster. They will distribute relief items such as food, clean drinking water, clothing, mosquito nets, kitchen utensils and hygiene supplies – including sanitary kits for women and girls.

Speaking from Freetown, Christian Aid’s country manager for Sierra Leone, Jeanne Kamara, said: “Early on Monday morning a heavy downpour in Freetown triggered a deluge of devastation, as rocks, earth and mud fell on houses and buried several communities: it was like a mini volcano.

“We Sierra Leoneans are resilient people and this week our resilience has been cruelly tested, yet again. As a resident of Freetown, it breaks my heart that another tragedy is unfolding here, while we’re still recovering from the deep-rooted impacts of the Ebola epidemic. We are going from emergency to emergency, and this is wreaking untold emotional, physical and psychological damage.

“The mood here this week is sombre and sober, and as I speak the rains are threatening again. Communities, faith groups, aid agencies and government agencies are working hard, but there are still a lot of gaps: a lot of people are using inappropriate make-shift shelters. 

“We sent out a team to assess the situation and register those who need help: what we’ve seen are lots of people who are homeless, who are confused, distressed and traumatised, and who will need lots of psycho-social support."

Mrs Kamara continued: “I spoke to a group of women who said they and their surviving family members have no clothes, no underwear, no sanitary kits: everything that they owned has gone. People have nothing, not even a pair of slippers on their feet to make their way to some of the local registration centres.

“They are now extremely vulnerable, especially women and children. School resumes in about a month’s time and many surviving children have lost all their uniforms and school materials. That’s why we are working around the clock, with our partners here in Freetown, to make sure help gets to those who need it most.

"In our initial response, our partners here will be distributing food and other essential items, such as malaria nets and basic household items. Our partners will, as always, work alongside community leaders, faith leaders and traditional leaders, so we can capitalise on their local knowledge and experience of their communities.”

Homeless families are currently sheltering in schools, community halls, churches, mosques and other public buildings. The government is expected to announce long-term plans to house displaced families.

Christian Aid’s relief programme will focus on locations in Freetown that are expected to receive less support from state bodies and aid organisations. In addition to launching today’s appeal, it has also applied for funds from other donors such as the START Network. It hopes to use this additional funding to, among other things, help displaced women and girls at risk of violence.

* Donate to Christian Aid’s emergency appeal here

* START Network https://startnetwork.org/

* Christian Aid https://www.christianaid.org.uk/


Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:35:10 +0000

More than half self-employed not earning decent living, says NEF

More than half of all self-employed people are failing to earn a decent living, according to new research by the New Economics Foundation.

More than half of all self-employed people are failing to earn a decent living, according to new research by the New Economics Foundation.

The research, based on data from the ONS Labour Force Survey and the DWP Family Resources Survey, shows that two in every five people employed in the UK last year were in ‘bad jobs,’ defined as jobs which do not provide a secure, living wage. That figure rises to 54 per cent for the self-employed.

In 2011, 63 per cent of the labour force were in ‘good jobs.’ But by 2016, that figure had dropped to 61 per cent – suggesting that the quality of jobs in the UK labour market is flatlining or getting worse over time.

Whilst the latest unemployment figures are likely to be the lowest seen in decades, the reality is less optimistic. Employment figures are being propped up by increasing numbers of self-employed people. While many choose self-employment in order to benefit from flexibility and independent working conditions, this research shows how many fail to earn a decent living. This is combined with record numbers of people on zero hours contracts – which have increased fivefold since 2011.

Hanna Wheatley, Researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said: “The overall unemployment figures paint a far more rosy picture of the labour market than what we know to be the reality – an underpaid and insecure workforce stretched to the limits.

"One in three people on zero hours contracts say they don’t have enough hours to provide for themselves.And while some benefit from the flexibility of being self-employed, many don’t. The rise in self-employment is hardly a cause for celebration when over half don’t earn enough to live a decent life.

"It seems that good jobs were the sacrifice made to avoid the worst effects of unemployment during the recession. But the situation for many is reaching crisis point.

"At the New Economics Foundation we are supporting people to take control of their working lives. It is vital that the voices of workers are at the forefront of the debate about the future of work.”

Good jobs are defined by NEF as secure jobs that pay at least the Living Wage. A secure job provides either a permanent employment contract, or a temporary employment contract where the reason for having a temporary contract is cited as ‘did not want a permanent contract.’ Because there is no measure of whether self-employed people feel secure in their work, we assume all self-employed are in secure work. The number of self-employed not meeting the ‘good job’ standard is therefore likely to be far greater than indicated here.

The Living Wage is independently calculated each year by the Living Wage Foundation, based on what employees and their families need to live.

* New Economics Foundation http://neweconomics.org/


Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:16:40 +0000

Kalahari Bushmen appeal to Dalai Lama

The Bushmen of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve have written a moving appeal to the Dalai Lama, who is scheduled to visit Botswana this month, criticising their country’s government for its brutal policies and urging him to speak out.

The Bushmen of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve have written a moving appeal to the Dalai Lama, who is scheduled to visit Botswana this month, criticising their country’s government for its brutal policies and urging him to speak out.

In the letter, Bushman spokesman Jumanda Gakelebone said: “We still cannot live on our lands freely. The government makes it so that children must apply for permits to visit their parents when they become adults. We worry what the government will do when those parents pass away.

“The government still forbids us from hunting and has introduced a shoot-on-sight policy against poachers. Last year a group of Bushmen out hunting were shot at from a police helicopter. Some of them were stripped naked and beaten.

“People praise President Khama [Botswana’s President] as a conservation hero when he ignores our struggle and our country’s own courts. Yet his government is happy for mining to take place on our ancestral land.

“We are the first people of the Kalahari. We are the ones who have protected this land and the animals that live there. Why has 'conservation' brought us so much suffering?”

Hundreds of Bushmen families were illegally evicted from their ancestral homelands in the name of conservation and moved into government eviction camps between 1997 and 2002, following the discovery of diamonds in the Kalahari.

Although the Bushmen won the right to return to the reserve in a historic court case in 2006, the country still has not respected its own high court’s ruling. Most Bushmen are denied access to their land by a brutal permit scheme. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19117)

They are also accused of poaching because they hunt to feed their families, facing arrest and beatings, torture and death under a nationwide hunting ban.

Survival International, the movement for the rights of tribal people, led the global campaign for Bushmen rights and is urging the Botswana government to allow them to determine their own futures.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Botswana’s President has been violating his country’s High Court ruling and trampling on Bushmen rights for over a decade now. No independent observer believes the Bushmen pose any kind of risk to the country’s wildlife, but they’re still prevented from hunting, and still being forced to get permits just to see their relatives. It’s a terrible stain on the country’s reputation that won’t be erased until they’re treated humanely, and with respect.”

* Read the Bushmen's letter to the Dalai Lama here

* Survival International http://www.survivalinternational.org/


Thu, 17 Aug 2017 06:51:33 +0000

Employment boom improving job quality but not pay

A tightening UK labour market, with employment at a new record high of 75.1 per cent and a significant slow down in the growth of EU workers, is raising job quality but not pay packets, the Resolution Foundation said in response to yesterday’s Labour Market data release.

A tightening UK labour market, with employment at a new record high of 75.1 per cent and a significant slow down in the growth of EU workers, is raising job quality but not pay packets, the Resolution Foundation said in response to yesterday’s Labour Market data release (16 August 2017).

With unemployment at 4.4 per cent, the lowest since 1975, and the annual growth in EU workers falling to just two per cent, the lowest since 2010 and contrasting with growth of 14 per cent last year, the UK labour market is tightening.

The Foundation notes that this jobs boom is seeing some improvements in job security as employers compete to attract workers. Today’s figures show:

  • Though still high overall, the number of workers on a zero-hours contract fell by 20,000 (two per cent), compared to a growth of 100,000 (10 per cent) last year.
  • Self-employment grew by less than one per cent over the past year, compared to six per cent the year before.
  • All of the net growth in employment over the past year came from full time work, with part time work falling.

But this good news on the nature of work is failing to feed through into higher pay. Real growth pay fell by 0.5 per cent. Pay growth is now also negative in 80 per cent of sectors.

Stephen Clarke, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “It’s good news that employers are having to up the security of the jobs they are offering, and that workers can be more picky in turning down insecure work than they could have been a few years ago thanks to a tightening labour market.

“But there is no sign of the jobs boom feeding through into badly needed pay rises. Real pay is now falling across 80 per cent of the sectors of our economy squeezing living standards right across the country.”

* Resolution Foundation http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/


Thu, 17 Aug 2017 06:31:19 +0000

Five million people want more or better work in UK cities

Over five million people in UK cities are missing out because they can't get work or are trapped in low paid insecure jobs.

Over five million people want to work, want more hours, or are trapped in low paid and insecure work across the UK’s 12 biggest cities, according to a new report. The report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) comes as new metro mayors, elected in May, complete their 100th day in office and the monthly employment figures are published.

Although the employment rate is the highest on record, the analysis of official statistics shows the scale of the challenge facing city leaders and national government to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get a good job.

In total, the analysis shows there are 5.3 million people missing out because of a ‘more and better jobs gap’ across the UK’s 12 major city region areas.

The gap is the number of people who are unemployed, underemployed or inactive because of barriers such as caring or disability, but who would want to work if jobs were available (the more jobs gap); and workers earning less than the living wage and those on insecure contracts who would prefer permanent contracts (the better jobs gap).

The report found:

  • In Manchester and Birmingham, where metro mayors were elected in May, more than half a million people are seeking more and better paid work.
  • In Birmingham, 356,000 people are either not working but want to work, or are working but want more hours.
  • In Manchester, one in five people who are in the workforce – 291,000 – are in low pay or insecure work.
  • In Liverpool and Sheffield, two fifths of the workforce are not working but would like to, want more hours, or are trapped in low pay or insecure work. This amounts to 303,000 people in Liverpool and 391,000 people in Sheffield.

JRF is calling on city leaders to work with the Government on devising local industrial strategies that prioritise creating more and better jobs. The Government’s forthcoming report to Parliament on its progress to full employment should consider the disparities in employment rates between places and the quality of jobs on offer.

Dave Innes, economist at JRF, said, “Britain has enjoyed a jobs miracle and the national picture on jobs is good – more people are in work than ever before. But these figures show millions of people across our big cities are missing out on this success and there is still a long way to go.

“The priority for city leaders and the government is to use the industrial strategy to create the conditions for more and better jobs, and ensure people who have been left behind can find work.”

* Download the report, Job creation for inclusive growth in cities here 

* Joseph Rowntree Foundation https://www.jrf.org.uk/


Wed, 16 Aug 2017 08:13:59 +0000

Methodist Church of Great Britain News Service

Methodist Church of Great Britain News Service
Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:28:39 +0200

Booking now open for 3Generate: the Children & Youth Assembly
Children and young people will get the chance to change and challenge the church, the world and each other at this year's 3Generate
Fri, 15 Jun 2012 01:26:25 GMT

Stop blaming the poor for poverty, say Churches
New proposals seek to measure 'faults' of poor, rather than poverty
Thu, 14 Jun 2012 01:26:25 GMT

Reshaping for leadership of the Connexional Team
The leadership structures of the Connexional Team will be significantly re-shaped under recommendations from a reference group of the Methodist Council
Fri, 08 Jun 2012 01:26:25 GMT

Fijian Church given permission to meet
The Methodist Church in Britain has welcomed the news that the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has been granted permission by the Government to hold its annual Conference
Fri, 08 Jun 2012 01:26:25 GMT

CTE Presidents' Statement on the Jubilee
The Presidents of Churches Together in England have issued a joint press release for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It is for all churches and community groups celebrating the Jubilee this weekend. It can be read out in churches, posted on websites, put in literature and passed through social media.
Wed, 30 May 2012 01:26:25 GMT

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