Barriersbetweenpeople-300x225The sidelined

This is the second post in a series of blogs about Brexit by guest contributor Edd Graham-Hyde. (More about Edd below.)

As a result of Brexit, there are many people feeling disempowered. Whether they feel unheard or just angry at the situation, the outcome of disempowerment is the same.

I mentioned in my previous blog that there are sidelined demographics and I want to unpack that more now. When I refer to a sidelined demographic, I am referring to a group of people that feel isolated from established society; in sociological terms this would be the socially excluded. The reason I use 'sidelined', however, is because it describes more the phenomenon that has occurred with these demographics as much as it pulls away from potentially controversial sociological theory.

Sociologist Anthony Giddens suggests that social exclusion is a consideration included in modern policy-making and describes the phenomenon of social exclusion as:
"Social exclusion refers to ways in which individuals may become cut off from full involvement in the wider society. For instance, people who live in a dilapidated housing estate, with poor schools, and few employment opportunities in the area..." (2006)

He goes on to suggest that policy is created to try and rectify this and it varies in different societies.

I want to suggest an amendment.

While good intentions are to be found behind policy proposal in Parliament, implementation of such policy is in a political dead-lock. The upper echelon of society stands to only lose out from policy that brings equality, and those in power cannot deny their need for help from such types – they fund their campaigns (this obviously does not apply to everyone). I wouldn't mind betting that the premise of the 'Big Society' was David Cameron's way of bypassing political deadlock in a bid to do his best to bring more equality to the UK.

The political establishment will never be able to centrally accomplish social inclusion. The hope of achieving this is through the Church.

Coming back to my use of the term 'sidelined' – various things have caused these demographics (young, old, middle-class, working-class, etc.) to become sidelined. While I do not want to negate individual responsibility, I believe that these different demographics sideline each other and this is fuelled by the media, poorly constructed policy, and fear – all of which are disempowering.

I'm being on purposely vague as to what I am referring to as sidelined demographics because this will largely vary based on the micro-society you find your church in. Central Blackpool will have a vastly different sidelined narrative to those who live in Mid-Sussex. However, despite the differences, the remedy is the same. Empowerment.
Churches need to find unique ways to empower those who have been disempowered in their communities. Empowering individuals through the Church will enable them to re-engage with wider society, be more involved civically, and thrive as an individual too.

Seek some individuals from these sidelined demographics and include them in the decision-making process. Let them have a steer in what your Sunday meetings look like, or what an Alpha Course might look like. Ask them what they think is the most important need in their community and then provide a solution that puts that individual at the centre of it, leading it through.

In light of all the above, I think that it is more essential than ever before to seek out the disempowered. As a result of Brexit, up to 48% of the country's population will feel disempowered, while a significant proportion of the 52% have previously been disempowered. If we truly want to seek community cohesion, with the Church being at the centre as I'm sure you believe it should be, then we need to be active in this pursuit of the sidelined demographics. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.

Edd is a fully qualified RE teacher and currently teaches A-level Sociology and Politics; he is also currently lecturing ad-hoc at the University of Central Lancashire while completing his PhD in socially fringed groups and religious narratives with a focus on social policy. He is part of the Christ Church Blackpool church plant and is an advocate for planting more churches by the beach!


If you haven't yet booked in for Churches that Change Communities, there's still time. More info and booking here.


Edd Graham-Hyde, 20/10/2016


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Chavs-300x225The side-lined culture

This is the first post in a series of blogs about Brexit by guest contributor Edd Graham-Hyde. (More about Edd below.) In this post, he offers an explanation about some of the socio-economic background issues that led to, and will continue after, Brexit.

Owen Jones wrote a fantastic book called Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, in which he identified how working class people have become victims of political posturing. Examples are many and varied; most striking to me was the way in which the media has huge influence over the way we view and talk about working class people. The connotations that are conjured when meeting someone that could be described as a 'chav' are often negative and we need to be careful with this.

An 'aspiration ladder' has been given to this demographic that has led to many rejecting the very notion of being identified as working class (W/C), as it is seen as undesirable (Jones, 2011) . Many declare themselves 'middle class' instead and this has led to the working class being considered an underclass of benefit scroungers, apathetic and criminal. News articles and user-edited media use a rhetoric that perpetuates these connotations (for example, these articles on the ILiveHere website and The Telegraph).

There has also been a furore of debate about how middle income earners (MIE) are often overlooked in terms of the welfare system and other agencies designed to support the impoverished (e.g. Student Loans). It certainly could be argued, although that is another blog entirely, that the new 'working class' are indeed this demographic.

We have seen a plethora of different policies that have hit the W/C and MIE demographics the hardest. The most prominent example of this would be the Spare Room Subsidy, also known as the 'Bedroom Tax' (see Shelter and HM Gov websites). This happened alongside tax breaks and other beneficial policies for the top earners such as increasing the inheritance tax threshold (see these Huffington Post and Guardian articles). Equally, we still have not seen a concerted effort from any government to ensure that tax avoidance and corporation tax are paid proportionately for what is earned.

All of the above has been implemented in the name of fiscal responsibility, economic stability or supporting hard-working Britain. At a time when economic stability is more of an urban myth than physical truth, is it inconceivable to suggest that there will be more policies being pushed through, in the aforementioned guises? I don't think so. Ultimately, regardless of opinion based politics, in which the merit of said policies can be debated, the evidence points towards new policies that will continue to sideline the W/C and MIE demographics.

There is clear disgruntlement among the so-called lower social grades of society. When it came to Brexit, both C2 and DE overwhelmingly voted leave, while AB voted remain. Interestingly, Ashcroft's poll showed that 58% of those that voted leave 'paid little to no attention' to politics (Ashcroft, 2016). I'm assuming, of course, but it would not be illogical to suggest that a significant number of those 58% are first time voters. If I'm right, then that begs the question as to what switched them on enough to vote in the first place.

Research suggests that there is a clear link between political disengagement and the socially disadvantaged; there is a perceived social class difference between the politicians and 'the masses'. Could it be there has been a passive aggressive revolution of the political establishment here? I guess time will tell.

Inevitably, the above is a back story for much of what is to follow in this series of blogs. The 'sideline' narrative will be one that filters through into our churches and challenges lie ahead in how to deal with sidelined demographics. This referendum not only saw the proverbial rug pulled out from underneath the political elite (all overwhelmingly in favour of remain!) but also saw young pitted against old (New Statesman); educationally achieved against vocationally achieved (FT Blog); and the north against the south (Business Insider); among other divides. We need to be incredibly careful, and more knowledgeable about sidelined demographics (and communities), in order to ensure that everyone has a home where they know they belong in our churches. My aim with further blogs is to highlight the issues for your consideration. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.

Edd is a fully qualified RE teacher and currently teaches A-level Sociology and Politics; he is also currently lecturing ad-hoc at the University of Central Lancashire while completing his PhD in socially fringed groups and religious narratives with a focus on social policy. He is part of the Christ Church Blackpool church plant and is an advocate for planting more churches by the beach!


If you haven't yet booked in for Churches that Change Communities, there's still time. More info and booking here.


Edd Graham-Hyde, 12/10/2016


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A message from Care

To view the latest newsletter from Care, which features timely information about the Abortion (Equality Disability) Bill and how you can constructively contact your MP, click here.


Sue Lyndon, 03/10/2016


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An invitation from Jeremy Simpkins...

Jeremy Simpkins heads up the ChristCentral international family of churches, which is hosting this year's Churches that Change Communities conference. Here is a short video from Jeremy inviting you to the event...
 


Natalie Williams, 23/08/2016


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Brexit3-300x225Brexit Britain: what now for the nation?

This is the third in a three-part series of blogs by Martin Charlesworth on Brexit. Read the first part here and the second part here.

From where I stand, here are the four most important and obvious issues that the UK faces in post-Brexit Britain:
 
The first issue is political leadership.
 
I’ve been in Westminster recently. The paparazzi and the media circus has been buzzing around Parliament relentlessly in the uncertain and tense circumstance of both major parties concerning their leadership following the EU referendum. Walking past a press photographer poking his lens through the railings of the Houses of Parliament I asked what he was looking for. “Oh just a glimpse of Michael Gove,” he replied half-heartedly and despondently.
 
It will take extraordinary political leadership in Westminster and elsewhere in the UK to negotiate the multiple political, constitutional, social, legal and economic issues that lie ahead. We have a new Prime Minister, but it’s still an uncertain road ahead with many opportunities and many dangers. Christians need to commit themselves firmly at this time to praying for our leaders.
 
The second issue is economic stability.
 
There have been significant economic jitters since the Brexit decision. I’ve been keeping an regular eye on stock markets, business news, investment trends, currency exchange rates and the statements of the governor of the Bank of England. It is too early to say what the economic fallout of Brexit will be, but all the evidence seems to point to high risk of some negative economic factors affecting us ongoing for a time. We need to be aware – and to pray.
 
The third issue is social harmony.
 
I’ve discussed this a little in my previous post. Part of this is the issue of attitudes to immigrants. Another part of it is dealing with the social divisions that came to the surface, such as the divisions between London and the regions, between the old and the young, within families where differing opinions are held, etc. Churches need to address this in their congregations, but they also need to be a reconciling force in their wider communities.
 
The fourth issue is national unity.
 
I’m in London as I write this. Many Londoners are horrified to find themselves part of the Brexit process that they vigorously opposed. Similar feelings are shared by the majority of Scots and in Northern Ireland. National unity has been severely strained by the EU referendum – another of those many unintended consequences of the referendum. Christians need to focus on these realities and seek ways to relate to those concerns wherever they appear across the UK.
 
Every challenge is an opportunity: there is no doubt that the Church has real opportunities in the strange new world of Brexit Britain. Jubilee+ is on the frontline. I trust you are too!


Martin Charlesworth, 26/07/2016


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Brexit2-300x225Brexit Britain: what now for the Church?

This is the second in a short series of blogs on Brexit. Read the first part here.

So where do we go from here in the strange surreal world of Brexit Britain? The decision has been made, but the divorce with the EU has not really begun. No one quite knows what is going to happen or how it is all going to work out. It is like a married couple who have decided to split up but are still living in the same house until alternative accommodation is organised for the leaving partner!
 
We have a new Prime Minister, Theresa May, but political life in Britain remains in turmoil in the wake of the Brexit vote. So what should the Church be doing now?
 
Here are three things that I think we should address at this time:
 
Firstly, we need to pray for our nation with urgency and faith! There has hardly been a time of such uncertainty in living memory. We are embarking on a significant change of direction with no certain outcomes. We should not underestimate the power of prayer. Don’t forget the words of Paul the apostle in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanks giving be made for all people – for rulers and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” The peaceful and quiet life that Paul had in mind implied political stability, social harmony and economic security – things we need in the UK right now!
 
Secondly, we should be proactive and vigilant in promoting social harmony – especially concerning the issues of race and immigration.  Friends all over the country are alerting me to the fact that racial tensions are currently more evident in their communities and that many EU nationals (and others) are feeling particularly insecure right now. The Church has a vital role to play here. Public statements on this issue are important. Reassuring and supporting people we know is important. Many churches will also have the opportunity to work with local authorities, schools and the police to combat any spike in racism at this time. It will take courage and focus – but it needs to be a top priority right now.
 
Thirdly, the Church remains the voice of the poor. This is a key part of the Jubilee+ mandate. In all the Brexit discussions that are taking place there has been very little said about the poorest sectors in our society and the implications for them of any political changes or economic changes in the months and years to come. As I said in a previous post, economic downturns always lead to greatest pressure on the poorest. This is a significant risk. We need to be alert to this and willing to speak and act on behalf of those who might lose out in the strange world of unintended consequences arising from the Brexit decision in the recent referendum.

Next week we'll look at what's next for the nation...


Martin Charlesworth, 22/07/2016


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As a result of Brexit, there are many people feeling disempowered. Whether they feel unheard or just angry at the situation, the outcome of disempowerment is the same. More ...
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