Published: Friday, 25 April 2014 15:19
Marking International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, Kay Parris, freelance journalist and former editor of Reform, asks whether deregulation is jeopardising workers’ safety:
"Most of us work primarily to survive. Additional aspirations may be involved but, at the basic level, we expect our labours to enable our lives rather than hasten our deaths.
"For far too many working men and women though, the reverse turns out to be true. International Workers’ Memorial Day is about remembering those who have tragically died in the course of their work – and also about confronting systems that fail to prevent over two million deaths and many millions more non-fatal casualties each year as a result of workplace-triggered accidents or diseases.
"Our government is currently engaged in a war on red tape, which explicitly targets health and safety regulations – “an albatross around the neck of British business” as the prime minister has described them. Everyone wants to see measures that encourage economic growth, and it is easy to lambast health and safety “gone mad”, but some experts worry that deregulation could prove to be an unhelpful business tonic.
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 14:17
John Ellis, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, reflects on the life cycle of daffodils and what it can teach us about retaining our Easter confidence all year round.
"Coming out of York station, I was confronted by a magnificent display of daffodils carpeting the banks leading up to the city walls. All on cue for Easter.
"The grassy bank continued round the corner tower of the city walls and I looked forward to another stunning display. But in drab contrast the banks here were bare of daffodils save for a few floppy and nearly dead flowers. The explanation was simple: this bank faces south and catches the sun so the display had already come and gone.
"I was struck by the parallels with many of our churches at Easter. Not just through the flower displays, Easter Sunday morning is a special service when there seems to be ample confidence – even joy – to carry us through the coming week and all the challenges to our faith. All too soon a corner is turned, all the confidence seems to drain away and we are back to being anxious and nervous, slightly drab and not too sure The Greatest Story Ever Told is one we want to mention over coffee.
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 12:30
David Grosch-Miller, moderator-elect of General Assembly, reflects on Good Friday and its centrality in our faith.
"This day more than any other day separates the Christian believer from contemporary culture. What could possibly be “good” about a day that is mired in defeat and humiliation? The invitation at Christmas to celebrate the birth of a baby – all be it in unusual circumstances – is one thing; but the sight of a man broken and dying on a cross is quite another – with much less popular appeal. And yet, it is this symbol of defeat that Christians revere, while their contemporaries reduce the cross of faith to a piece of jewellery without emotional connection.
"The antecedents to this most perplexing of days lie buried in the history of the Hebrew people and their ability to trust their God when all the evidence was to the contrary. When Jerusalem was destroyed its leading citizens were led in captivity to Babylon. In exile they were humiliated and they wondered if their God cared or even existed; these tenacious forbears of Jesus dug deep and nurtured hope.
Published: Wednesday, 16 April 2014 09:26
•900,000 needing to use foodbanks "should shock and anger us"
•Figures "should lead Government to examine why the post-Welfare Reform benefits system allows so many people to go hungry."
Leaders of the Methodist Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain and United Reformed Church have responded with concern to the latest figures from the Trussell Trust, released today.
"These figures should shock and anger us," said Methodist President the Revd Ruth Gee. "Hunger should not and need not be a problem in a rich country like the UK - and yet clearly it is. We thank God for foodbanks, which provide a vital lifeline to people who would otherwise be forced to go hungry.
"Wherever I have travelled in my year as president I have asked the same two questions: do you have a foodbank here and have you seen increased need for it?
"Wherever I have travelled the answers to both questions have been 'yes' and I am not hearing about small increases in need; I am hearing about huge leaps in demand and foodbanks that are struggling to keep up."