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Posts Tagged ‘state’

George Osborne is apparently going to announce today that 260,000 2 year olds will be allocated nursery places, especially targetted at deprived areas. This sounds like it will result in children in poorer homes being given great education (a whole extra year at school!) and impoverished parents being able to get back into employment earlier.

But will it work? I can see there’ll be a benefit for parents already back at work – they’ll bear less of their childcare costs. And childcare may look more affordable for someone getting a full time job. But in our parish, I can’t see many full time jobs available and barely any of those part time jobs that someone could do in between dropping a child at nursery and returning to collect them 3 hours later. One friend would love to work during the school day (and year) but very few jobs are that flexible, unless they’re in a school. So perhaps that’s the government’s plan – employ all those unemployed parents in the nurseries that will be expanding.

It’ll be a good break for some knackered (mainly) mums but then it supplies the message that a 2 year old is better off in the hands of a government run nursery than at home and out and about with their family. I think that this was what the communists did. Aren’t we heading for the ultimate Nanny State? Am I missing something, or is this just something that the Chancellor is announcing to deflect attention from the horrors of the economy? I note that it’s been used as the headline in the online Telegraph site and doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the Guardian. Hmmmm.

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When you live in the inner city, people from the council or from government agencies are always coming round asking what facilities you need, or suggesting events that you should go to, that they have laid on. I never encountered government in such quantity until I came to live in a deprived area. They are involved in everything!

Sometimes I just want to suggest that the people asking the question give up their well paid job so the council can give the money to the church instead. And other times I want to say that they should come and live here instead of swanning in and trying to build “community cohesion” from outside, 5 days a week, 9am-5pm. Community doesn’t work like that. You need to be here. And you need the gospel to help you.

The Breathe Network seem to have a much better idea of what makes good community. NB From 3min30s onwards there’s no more action…

[HT Mark Meynell]

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Do come in, but perhaps you won't find what you're expecting...

Not everyone knows the real answer to this question. And sometimes it’s tempting for us to do something worthy but low down on our priority list in order to help people who think the church is really a sort of extension of social services.

That was my temptation earlier today, when local social services telephoned us. The lady calling didn’t introduce herself, but asked if we had a room available for a parent to have contact with their children. They needed two hours, twice a week. I answered that our church hall was available to hire if they were looking for space.

But that wasn’t what this lady wanted. She was after space that was free. Or was there somewhere else? Perhaps the Vicarage? ‘Because churches want to support families staying together.’

Well, obviously, that is something the church wants to support. But we are a small congregation in a deprived area. So we can’t afford to let people use our rooms for free. And you all know that the Vicarage already has plenty of people in need passing through its doors. And, when we consider what we’re really about, our mission is not social service, to keep families together (for example), just because that is a good thing. Our mission is to help bring people out of the dominion of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son. And stronger families are a result of that, not an end in itself. We need to keep the main thing the main thing, otherwise we could spend all our time in worthy, but ultimately fruitless, activities.

I was interested that they thought the church would help (which we might have been able to do I guess, if we were a wealthier church with a church hall that was open anyway). There is still a perception that churches care about people and their troubles. I can’t imagine Richard Dawkins gets many calls asking him to make his living room available for use by families in crisis.

Incidentally, I wonder if this is part of a new plan for councils to reduce their spending? Perhaps they are looking to the church to provide free facilities for all their other activities as well. Will we be getting a call from their finance department asking if we’ve got space for a few of their accountants? Is this an initiative that Grant Shapps has launched?

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