Latest research from Church Urban Fund

Church Urban Fund report

Survival Strategies: A survey of the impact of the current economic climate on community organisations in the most deprived areas of England

Church Urban Fund’s latest research report examines the impact of the current economic climate on community organisations in the most deprived areas of England.

It follows two reports published by Church Urban Fund in 2011, ‘At the Cutting Edge’ and ‘Holding on by a Shoestring’, which looked in detail at how public spending cuts were affecting people and organisations at a grassroots level. Returning a year later to the same organisations, we wanted to examine the ongoing effects of the economic climate.

We found that the current economic climate is having a significant impact upon community organisations and people living in deprived areas of England. This impact can be seen in the rising demand for services and the difficulty of securing funding.

However, in response to these difficulties, organisations are employing a range of survival strategies in order to meet rising demand with rising service provision.

Megan Fox on Speaking in Tongues

 

Megan Fox

Megan Fox is best known for her role in films like “Transformers”, but in an interview with Esquire, she’s talked a bit about her faith, the church she’s been attending and speaking in tongues.

The actress revealed that she first began speaking in tongues at the age of eight, growing up in a Pentecostal church in Tennessee.  Fox, who gave birth to a son last September, said she is making church a priority these days.

In the Esquire feature story, she described what it feels like to speak in tongues:

“It feels like a lot of energy coming through the top of your head – I’m going to sound like such a lunatic – and then your whole body is filled with this electric current. And you just start speaking, but you’re not thinking because you have no idea what you’re saying. Words are coming out of your mouth, and you can’t control it.  The idea is that it’s a language that only God understands. It’s the language that’s spoken in heaven. It’s called ‘getting the Holy Ghost.'”

She also talks about how she’s seen “crazy things happen.”

“I have seen magical, crazy things happen. I’ve seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during Praise and Worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I’d have to shut it off because I don’t know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back”

Just as interesting are Fox’s musings on being a sex symbol.  While her photo shoot for the magazine suggests she hasn’t exactly turned a corner, she talks like she has. “I didn’t feel powerful,” she says of her time spent as Hollywood’s go-to teen-boy bait.

“It ate every other part of my personality, not for me but for how people saw me, because there was nothing else to see or know. That devalued me. Because I wasn’t anything. I was an image. I was a picture. I was a pose” …

 

Subway’s 11-inch Footlong

11 inch subway footlong

Last week, Australian teenager Matt Corby uploaded a photograph showing an 11-inch Subway sandwich. The original Facebook post has since been deleted, but Subway did respond to Corby.

“Hi, Matt. Thanks for writing. Looking at this photo, this bread is not baked to our standards,” Subway wrote on Thursday in response to his post.

“We have policies in place to ensure that our fresh baked bread is consistent and has the same great taste no matter which Subway restaurant around the world you visit. We value your feedback and want to thank you again for being a fan.”

If it were just one sandwich, the picture probably would not have gone viral, but apparently it touched a nerve with sub sandwich eaters.  Quite a few other Facebook users posted similar pictures of a Subway footlong as 11 inches or a bit less. By the time Subway Australia responded in the comments of this Facebook post, they could no longer pretend it was an isolated incident.

Subway Facebook page

So if a Subway Footlong®  is not intended to be a measurement of length, does the same logic apply to a 6-inch sandwich, which is made from cutting a Footlong® in half?

I have not seen a picture of a 13 inch sandwich, at least not yet. A quick survey of New York City sandwiches found four out of seven at 11 or 11.5 inches.

Some say that the internet uproar over an inch of sandwich is silly. Others point out some of the greater implications of the controversy:

  • What happens if the Footlong® was actually only ten or even nine inches?
  • What if we decided the physical money we pay for the sandwiches with was not intended to be a measurement of money?

So what do you think – is this a tempest in a teapot or a place where customers should draw the line?

How to survive being 13 by a 14 year old

Be careful what pictures you put on Facebook …

A Netmums survey suggests that 13 is the most difficult age of all.  A 14-year-old has written a fantastic piece in The Guardian explaining how to get through it, well worth a read:

According to a Netmums survey, 13 is the most difficult age. But it’s not only parents who find it hard going – it’s tough for the teenagers too. Here’s how to make it through to being 14, by Miranda Smith, aged 14 and four months.

1. Don’t put up pictures of yourself on Facebook with a bottle of WKD beside you and a comment like: “Got SO drunk last night.” No one thinks it’s cool – and WKD is only 4% proof.

2. You’re going to feel a whole lot more grumpy when you’re 13 than you did at 12. But the thing is it’s not just you – every other 13-year-old feels exactly the same. Knowing that helps a bit.

3. It’s tempting, but try not to be on your phone 24/7. It really bugs your parents but, worse, it’s boring for your friends.

4. Thirteen is the age when you’re likely to start getting attention from the opposite sex. Don’t get carried away by this – there’s nothing more moist than a lovesick 13-year-old.

5. Don’t send pictures of yourself in your underwear to ANYONE – because they’ll end up being spread around, and you’ll regret it.

6. Your friends will annoy you, make you angry and get on your nerves. But don’t insult them on Twitter – 13-year-olds do that all the time. Twitter is a public forum, and if you start tweeting about your issues anyone can get involved even if it’s none of their business.

7. A few months ago, you hardly thought about your body at all. Now it’s the only thing on your mind. Of course your body matters: but the thing to think is that no one else notices it as much as you do. So try to chill about it.

8. At precisely the moment when you decide there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than staying in bed til late afternoon, your parents will become obsessed with you doing the chores for them. Rule of thumb: you can only say, “I’ll do it later,” five times. After that, just do it.

9. Thirteen-year-olds have massive fights with their friends, all the time. A year on, you won’t even remember what those fights were about – but you will remember how unhappy they made you feel.

10. Plan a really good party for when you reach 14. When the parents say they want to be around you’ll think, “OMG no,” … but it’s probably going to be best to let them stay. Agree on the conditions, and stick to your side of the bargain provided they stick to theirs.

Books I have read: Only Half Of Me: British and Muslim: The Conflict Within

Only Half of Me - Being a Muslim in Britain

I finished reading Only Half Of Me: British and Muslim: The Conflict Within by Rageh Omaar last night.  I found it a fascinating read as he describes both the personal tensions and cultural tensions he has seen over his life and the way in which society makes big assumptions against British Muslims.

Following 9/11 and then the 7/7 London bombing society has become much more suspicious and negative towards British Muslims.  Omaar shows how this goes beyond what should be acceptable.  Having grown up originally in Somalia and then moving to Britain for a private education, he struggled to develop into an adult who straddled both his parents Islamic faith and the Western society in which he was living.

The point that I found most interesting was the sub culture of wealthy upper middle class Muslims moving to the UK to provide their children with a top quality education, sometimes staying, sometimes moving back to their country of origin.  In Omaar’s case with Somalia falling into civil war his family decided to stay in the UK and it was only as a reporter for the BBC that he went back to visit his homeland.  Alongside his own story, Omaar details the responses of a number of people who fled from oppression in their native land.

The book challenges the reader to a better understanding of Muslims coming to live in Britain.  But it does leave a number of key questions unanswered – there are positive challenges for how white British people can respond better to British Muslims, whereas there seems little in response as to how a British Muslim should engage with British society.

I feel as if Omaar has written part 1, but could write more suggestions as to how society could function better as a whole.

Books I have read: Childhood Under Siege

Childhood under siege

As a children’s and youth worker I am fascinated by how culture, media and business shapes our children, and so it was with interest that I read Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Ruthlessly Targets Children by Joel Bakan.

In many ways I felt like Bakan wrote in a similar way to Michael Moore, arguing that big business and governments that look the other way had created a society that instead of encouraging, developing and supporting children and young people actually feasts upon them.  Using Nelson Mandela’s comment that:

‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’

Bakan shows that we fail to protect our children, even though we profess to hold them close through things like in 1989, governments worldwide promising all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The book explores education, pharmaceutical business, ecology, child labour and more in the USA showing that across industries business is targeting children putting profit first.

The book at times can be scary and feel overly dramatic, but I think it is a helpful cynical look at how business and children work together.