**NEW Feb 14th 2021** COVID-19


Introducing ‘The Wellbeing Journey’

Lockdown has led to the death of many of the hopes people have had…”but from a Christian point of view, there’s a deeper hope,” says Roger Bretherton, a clinical psychologist and university lecturer, who is one of the experts contributing to ‘The Wellbeing Journey’.

This eight-part video series produced by HOPE Together and KingsGate Community Church, Peterborough, focuses on different aspects of wellbeing. The videos are presented by Simon Thomas (ex Sky Sports/ Blue Peter) and Joanna Abeyinka (CBeebies), with contributions from specialists like Roger Bretherton, bringing expertise from different fields alongside Bible teaching.

As well as the videos there is a book published by Waverley Abbey Resources, ‘God’s Plan for Your Wellbeing’ by Dave Smith, which offers a 50-day devotional – fuel for the journey.

Launching in January 2021, ‘The Wellbeing Journey’ aims to be accessible to people who would not yet call themselves Christians, as well as regular church-goers. Roger described it as ‘bite-sized’, meaning people can access different chunks of it as appropriate. “It’s beautifully biblical,” he said. “It integrates lots of spiritual material into the psychology. I love it as a resource and it’s just my absolute delight to advise on it!”

Roger is convinced of the role of the church in supporting people’s wellbeing. “Whole services in the NHS keep people out of hospital by being their friend, helping them decorate, making sure they eat, making sure they get their benefits – so all those things we naturally do as Christians, the projects that many churches run, they do an enormous job of helping people with their wellbeing.”

Roy Crowne, HOPE Together’s executive director said, “At this time when so many in our national are facing added psychological pressure, churches are in an ideal place to offer ‘The Wellbeing Journey’ to invite more people to experience the life to the full that Jesus offers.”

Find out more at www.wellbeingjourney.org


Smokers stubbing out

Smoking is on the decline. The number of people who successfully quit smoking last year was the highest in a decade,

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) reckons that more than a million people in the UK stopped smoking during the lockdown period. By the end of last year, smoking prevalence in England was at an all-time low: 13.9 per cent.

That made it the most popular lifestyle change of the year, according to Public Health England. There was also a significant surge in smokers who are trying to quit.


The challenge to some over-60s

Last year saw a steep rise in redundances among the over-60s, and a lack of proficiency with digital work tools such as Zoom helped contribute to the problem.

The number of workers over 60 who were made redundant increased from 8,000 between April and June to 31,000 between July and September – twice the percentage increase of any other groups.

According to research by Rest Less, a jobs site for older people, older workers are less likely to receive workplace training than their younger counterparts, and once made redundant are significantly more likely to find themselves in long-term unemployment. “Contrary to popular belief, most 60-somethings are not revelling in their gold-plated final salary pensions – a long lost preserve of their parents’ generation.”


Giving gifts of HOPE

When Angie Godsell’s husband died she had an idea, which she says, “I couldn’t shake off.”

She explained, “I sadly lost my husband, after a long illness with vascular dementia, at the end of February. I was looking for a way to commemorate his life, when I heard about the booklet – Hope in Uncertain Times.

“I ordered 25 initially, but then was so struck by the presentation and clear Christian message, that I thought it would be brilliant if every home in the parish I live in, could receive a copy.”

Having shared the idea with friends “in case it was one of my mad ideas, and so they could pray about it too.” Angie says she was “really excited to be able to do something in memory of Ken that has the potential to give real life to those who receive it”.

She ordered 1,000 copies of the booklet and had labels printed to put on inside front cover with a personal message explaining that the gift was to commemorate Ken’s life, “sharing the message, which was so central to his life”.

Angie attends St Giles Church in Bredon, near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire and has bought the booklets to be delivered in Bredon and also to homes in the surrounding villages of Kinsham, Westmancote and Bredon’s Norton. People in the village who usually give out Christian Aid envelopes, have agreed to help distribute the booklets.

Copies of Hope in Uncertain Times are available for just £1 each, 25-49 copies are 50p each and 50+ copies 30p each, form www.hopetogether.org.uk/shop


Stress and depression for home-schooling parents

Parents are under enormous pressure just now, as they seek to juggle the demands of work, home-schooling, and of meeting their children’s emotional needs.

A recent Oxford University study has found that parents of primary school-aged children between 5 and 10 years old are suffering high levels of stress because they are concerned about their children’s behaviour, and their emotional and social development.

On the other hand, parents of secondary school children, aged 11 or older, report more symptoms of depression. More than four in ten of such parents report deep concern about their children’s education and future career opportunities.


Your daily walk should be a sacred ritual

Under lockdown, millions of us who rarely walked around our immediate locality are now well acquainted with every nearby driveway, every crack in the pavement, and every pothole in the road. We have developed views on our neighbours’ gardens, on their oddly coloured garage doors, and on their dogs, children and cars. If we go out at the same time every day, we may even be saying hello to the same people we don’t know every day.

For many of us, that daily walk has become the high point of our day. After all, it is one of the few liberties we have left. Some of us go early, to enjoy the relative peace and quiet. Some of us go midday, to at least see other people, even if we can’t talk to them. Others of us opt for dusk, the dark comfort of a street with lit houses and stars in the sky.

Whatever time you most enjoy, make sure you do make the time to go for your walk. Your mental and physical fitness can only improve!


An easy way for fathers to feel closer to their children

When fathers work with their children on puzzles, it helps them grow closer, because their brains ‘synchronise’. This leads them to being more ‘psychologically in tune’ with each other.

A study at the University of Essex said that “the synchronising of brain activity is interesting, because we knew it happened between mothers and children, but didn’t know if the same was true with fathers.

“This is important for two reasons. It shows that men are biologically wired to provide off-spring care; and second, dads are increasingly being recognised as care-givers and attachment figures to their children.”


Visit the C of E online page

There is now a range of digital resources for to you connect with God at this difficult time.  These include:

Time to Pray app (https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/time-to-pray) which is free and has an accompanying daily audio offering on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Mental health reflections (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health)

Tips to tackle isolation (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/dealing-loneliness-and-isolation-five-top-tips)

Finally, there are the Church’s smart speaker apps, which provide a range of Christian resources.  https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/our-smart-speaker-apps  In March alone, the number of people using the Alexa app rose by more than 70 per cent.

More details at:  https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online