Theos: Doing Good

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Just reading the Theos report "Doing Good," really like the introduction by Justin Welby and Vincent Nichols:

"Strange things are happening to Christianity in the United Kingdom

While critics prophesy its imminent demise - as critics have done for several hundred years -Christians across the country are doing what they, too, have done for many hundreds of years: worship, pray, witness, serve.

There is nothing, of course, strange about this. What is strange - or at least worthy of greater notice than it usually receives - is that the breadth, depth and intensity of this Christian service is deepening. From personal debt advice to marriage counselling, from foodbanks to street pastors, from rehabilitation to reconciliation, the Church and Christian charities across the country are rolling up their sleeves, struggling on behalf of human dignity, pursuing the common good - and doing it all in the name of Jesus Christ"



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Additional needs Alliance

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Kudos to the AnA for championing, supporting and enabling inclusion.
This resource document is still only a draft edition but it's a useful guide to people and resources, so here it is:

Additional Needs Alliance flyer v3.pdf

Challenges Faced by young people

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Connected to the "Young People Count" report in a blog entry below, this is an interesting article in the Guardian about the effect of Government policy on young people.

"Consider the findings of the Prince's Trust in its annual Youth Index. The overall wellbeing of young people, it has announced, is lower now than at any point since it launched the index eight years ago. Over a quarter of young people report feeling a lack of control over their lives; over a third feel they will have a "worse standard of living than their parents"; 42% feel that "traditional goals" such as owning a home, or getting a steady job are "unrealistic". The young will pay for political developments they overwhelmingly did not vote for: nearly six out of 10 say that recent political events and the current economic climate make them feel anxious for their future"

Continuing Comedic Capers

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I'm continuing to have a lot of fun with comedy (as are my audiences, on the whole) and I am managing to gig most weeks. Reading many comedian's autobiographies it seems that 5 years is the normal apprenticeship, there is also a view from some that you need to do 100 gigs before you begin to REALLY learn the craft. I'm encouraged therefore that last night in Dalston saw my 94th gig in what has been two and a half years of pursuing the art of Stand Up. There are encouragements and there are dismal bewilderments, successes and failures, highs and very real lows; but on the whole I feel like I am moving forward. The other plus is learning so much about humility, about myself, and about the human condition, it's amazing how much the comedy and my work on discipleship interconnect.

Ian Macdonald Comedian comedy Stand Up sequence.jpg

Today is a good day as the gig in Dalston last night was lovely, I got some great laughs. Even sweeter as a friend unexpectedly turned up (huge relief not to die a stage death when you have friends in the audience). I've a gig in Stockwell next week (if you fancy coming to a London night) and then a slot on a great bill in Kettering on the Saturday.

PS If you are within travel distance of Newbury, note that 25th March will be the next Ethos Comedy (a community, clean-ish evening with a great line up and a top Headliner)

Pecha kucha

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I am 'speaking' at a conference on Laughter and Spirituality. I (and other delegates) are being asked to present using the format of Peca Kucha, a style of presentation that requires one to be concise and visual. The format is that you present using 20 slides each of which is on the screen for only 20 seconds.

I love the way that this will require me to approach the session in an entirely different way. Let the musing begin.

Young People Count

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This report draws together data available on aspects of the lives of young people.
The introduction below explains it's scope ... and reveals why this information is important:

"Drawn from official figures, such as the Office of National Statistics, and independent research by community and voluntary organisations, it covers the subjects of; health, youth employment, housing, crime, education, participation, and poverty.

The challenges that young people face are numerous, and interlinked, and are not easily addressed in isolation. Yet one thing is clear: young people are at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the population on almost every area. "


• The overwhelming majority (93%) of youth service employees told us that the local authority they were employed by had cut services since 2010.
• In the period February-April 2016, 27.7% of 16-17 year olds and 11.9% of 18-24 year olds were unemployed, compared with 4.7% of 25-34 year olds, 3.2% of 35-49 year olds, and 3.6% of 50- 64 year olds.
• Each year more than 200,000 young people in the UK start smoking.
• 1 in 3 young people aged 16 to 24 in England were overweight including obese compared with 3 in 5 adults aged 16 and over.
• 7% of young people do not achieve five or more GCSE's and find their life chances significantly impacted
• 48% of pupils across England went on to higher education.
• 47% of 2015 graduates moved back in with parents.
• The number of 16-24 year olds who are unemployed currently stands at 739,400 or 16.5% of the economically active population.
• Unemployment rates are three times higher for 16-25 year olds when compared with the rest of the UK population.
• 71% of UK businesses surveyed by the Princes Trust admit that jobless young people face stigma from employers, while 69% warn of a culture where unemployed young people and those without a degree are unfairly overlooked in the jobs market
• 16-34 year-olds saw the greatest growth in claims for sickness benefits over the last five years. Over half of that age group are unable to work due to poor mental health. • Young people are more likely to be victims of crime than older people, with 16-24 year olds constituting 25% of victims of crime in 2013
• Young adults make up just over a quarter of the prison population. Half of all those who had offended in a given year will have recently been a victim of personal crime
• One third of young people in custody have a mental health disorder 3 times higher than the general population. Many have a history of abuse or bereavement.
• 25% of young women (aged over 13) experience physical violence and 72% experience emotional abuse in their own relationships.
• In the 2015 General Election, 18 to 21 year olds had turnout rate of around 40%, while those aged 65+ were almost double this.
• There are over 1.5m 16 and 17 year olds in the UK denied the vote.
• 76% of press coverage of young people is negative.
• 30% of young people aged 14-24 living in the UK are living in poverty, approximately 2.7m

Full report


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I had the privilege of spending the day with an inspiring group of Ordinands at 'Holy Hogwarts' (aka Ripon College, Cuddesdon) yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, the enthusiasm and the engagement. Definitely one of those days where I drive away feeling really encouraged.

The Powerpoint PDF is here: Cuddesdon TSW 2017.pdf

2017 and all that

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Just back from a two day residential and ready to engage with 2017. The only slight downer is that all the e-mails I have sent this year thus far have somehow been corrupted and didn't actually leave my computer ... and then erased themselves. So I'm trying to remember what I said, to whom, and why .... and trying again. Doh! I'm grateful to the I.T department who have de-bugged and rebuilt my Outlook so I'm back in business.

It feels like an exciting year ahead, workwise and comedically, so very exciting. If I try not to think about Brexit or Trump then 2017 feels like a good place to be. I hit 50 this year which is a weird milestone to be passing, or at least a surprising one.

The blog continues (for a while at least) but who knows what new connection and publishing opportunities the internet will develop and offer this year. I'm still on the margins of Twitter @youthblogoxford but resisting Instagram.

I look forward to:

a) Coffee
b) Beer
c) Laughter
d) lunch
e) Conversation

(Tick all that apply) with you sometime this year. Shalom


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Every blessing for a mellow Christmas full of wonder, community and thanks.

"...... And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine"

Thank you Mr Betjeman
Back on Jan 6th


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Diocesan Youth Workers

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A quick diary note (details to follow) that we have a Network Meeting at St Andrews Oxford on March 29th. 'Naked Truth' will be helping us explore issues around pornography and sexting in relation to young people.


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