Displaying items by tag: Scotland
Scotland's unemployment rate is now the highest in the UK, having risen by 30,000 to 127,000 between February and April as a result of the pandemic. Many people will be feeling a deep sense of anxiety about their livelihoods. The UK’s Scottish secretary Alister Jack said the impact of coronavirus was clearly seen in the latest figures, which are ‘expected to continue for some time’. There is no obvious reason why Scottish unemployment should have risen so much, although it could be the downturn in oil and gas consumption, or a bigger dependence on tourism jobs. The UK government is providing comprehensive coronavirus support packages to help people get through this unprecedented pandemic. We can pray for redundant young people and those already on company loans and universal credit.
NHS field hospital sites in Scotland will be identified ahead of a predicted rapid rise in coronavirus cases. Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said, ‘We have had quite detailed discussions very recently and I know that there are sites being considered.’ Referring to comments by the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine that the dramatic explosion in coronavirus case numbers in London could be replicated in Scotland, she said, ‘Unfortunately, he is absolutely right. We have people with mild illness, which we know 80% of people will experience - but up to 20% of people will have a much more significant illness.’
Alex Salmond is on trial for carrying out 14 sexual assaults on 10 women. He has pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges alleged to have happened while he was Scotland's first minister and the leader of the SNP. The first woman to testify, a former government official known as Woman H, told the court that she was scared to come forward at the time because he was a ‘powerful man’. She raised the allegations after getting ‘flashbacks’ around the time of the #MeToo movement. The charges include allegations of assaults and rape at Mr Salmond’s official residence in Edinburgh. She said she had emailed a colleague the day after the first attack to say she would not be attending a sporting event with him. She said she felt ‘hunted’ by Mr Salmond. Nine other women will also be giving evidence.
Scotland's Destiny Church has begun fundraising for £150,000 to enable them to take legal action against Edinburgh Council, believing the case will have ramifications for the UK Church. It stems from the recent cancellation of a booking made at the city's Usher Hall for the church’s annual SURGE conference with Gavin Calver and Larry Stockstill. The cancellation came after the venue said it had received complaints linked to comments Mr Stockstill had previously made. He is a preacher, author, and pastors' mentor who runs a church-planting network. According to the Times, Stockstill has described same-sex relationships as ‘offensive’, ‘repulsive’, and ‘deeply grievous’. See Destiny Church, a thriving Pentecostal network focusing on evangelism and social action with congregations across Scotland, has been criticised by the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Praise God for Operation Risbalit. Four people have been charged as part of a probe into human trafficking in Scotland. The probe was supported by national counter-terror and financial crime experts, and led by Edinburgh's public protection unit. Thank God that identifying human trafficking and supporting victims of such offences is a top priority for Police Scotland. Pray that this would send a powerful message of deterrence to would-be traffickers in Scotland and across the UK. On 26 February IJM begins #SlaveFreeLent. Please pray for hundreds to sign up, and for this to become a mass movement to shed light on hidden slavery in our supply chains.
The Duke of Cambridge has been made the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland by the Queen, while the Duke of Sussex begins his search for freedom away from the monarchy. The high commissioner role was established in the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland, and the Queen pledged to continue it during the first Privy Council meeting of her reign. William will make the opening and closing addresses to the Assembly, and will carry out official visits across Scotland. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian and recognises only Jesus Christ as ‘King and Head of the Church’, so the Queen attends services as an ordinary member, and appoints someone to represent the role every year.
A ban on children heading the football in Scotland could be implemented due to fears over links between football and dementia. The Scottish FA wants to lead the way on the issue after a report found former players are more at risk of dying from the disease. An announcement on banning under-12s heading footballs in training is expected this month. A similar ban is in place in the USA. Scotland would become the first European country to impose such a restriction. Discussions have been ongoing since an October study found the first links between former players and degenerative brain disease. Although former players are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia, there is no firm evidence linking heading the ball to the disease. A neurosurgeon said that England striker Jeff Astle died from a brain condition normally linked to boxers rather than Alzheimer's disease.
Children’s panels recognise that offending behaviour is usually a sign of other problems. The panel system was introduced in Scotland in 1971, with a wholly different approach to supporting children in crisis. They focus on welfare and protection. There are no juvenile courts, unless the case involves homicide or rape, which go into the mainstream legal system. There are no prosecutors or police officers sitting in, even though 75% of cases are referred by the police. The panel members are not judges or magistrates, but trained volunteers who act as the child’s guarantors, often directing social work departments and schools to put in place tailored support and services. Nearly 3,560 children went before a children’s panel last year. Hearings are not interested in innocence or guilt, but only in the young person’s welfare; they listen really hard to the young person, to the family, and to the professionals. Then they decide whether the young person needs the protection of the law.
Rev Dr Richard Frazer has said, ‘Climate change will change the lives of children growing up today, and they will experience profoundly the impact in decades to come. It now casts a long shadow over their lives, and they have responded to the inspiring example of the Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg and want to be heard. We are mindful of the many arguments for and against schoolchildren “striking”, and appreciate the strong feelings this evokes. Rather than taking a stand for or against climate strikes, we urge churches and congregations to listen to children in their communities. Churches can provide a safe space in which to express their concerns and aspirations. By listening to them we can learn and understand better, and this will in turn help us to respond more effectively to the climate emergency.’ Dr Frazer spoke ahead of a series of school strike events planned in many Scottish cities on Friday 20 September.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Place for Hope, a Scottish charity responding to the need for mediators within faith groups and congregations in Scotland. In October they are hosting a three-day event, ‘Gathering in Glasgow on Conflict and Faith’, to explore the nature of conflict faced by churches and faith communities, and ways of working together in conflict transformation. The event, aiming to respond to the hunger for reconciliation and peace in churches and communities, will give delegates the opportunity to network while developing the art of conflict transformation, reconciliation, and peacebuilding across faith communities. Victoria Mason, part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s reconciliation team, will lead one of the workshops. ‘Knowing how to transform conflict is crucial for following Jesus in a world that is ever more complex and divided,’ she said.