Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
I started the website Lay Anglicana in November 2010 to provide a forum for Anglican laity worldwide. So far, most of our exchanges have been within the UK and with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but in all we have had just under 17,000 visits from 7,000 people in 118 countries. The main restriction on worldwide use is of course the language, which is English.
We have thus started on the road leading to the ambitious target I set – a cyberspace where all English-speaking Anglicans around the world could exchange news and views from the pews. Almost all other religious sites are run by churches and clergy, in other words from the top down. I wanted somewhere those in the nave (Anglicans making a great distinction between the nave and the chancel!) could talk amongst themselves.
We are not as exclusive as that may make us sound. We have lay people from other denominations who have joined our community, as well as Anglican clergy – and indeed now one ‘pastor’. I would not like to say we are the opposite of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ but it is more relaxed and, dare I say, convivial!
Since attending the CNMAC 11, I have got to know Bex Lewis and Pete Phillips of CODEC, hence I became interested in ‘The Big Read’ and in particular the proposal that as many house groups as possible should join in the study of Mark’s gospel during Lent, all using Tom Wright’s exegesis. My ‘offline’ house group had different plans, so I thought it might make sense to use the Lay Anglicana forum to discuss the book at the same time as everyone else. In practical terms, we have been enormously helped by SPCK and 12Baskets in making Tom Wright’s text available to copy to the forum. Lots of podcasts are on offer from the main website, as is support and fellowship. I regard it as an online house group.
This is only our second day, but I have already been approached by people from as far afield as New York and China who say they may contribute, but in any case are going to ‘hover’ over the discussions. I don’t mind this at all – some people are shy of joining in this sort of thing, but the hope is that real bonds of friendship will be formed. Assuming that people do actually take part, I have little doubt from my own experience that that will happen. In the last eighteen months, my life has been enormously enriched, and my faith strengthened, by the people that I have met online (many of whom I have gone on to meet offline as well).
I find it an immensely appealing idea that all over the world in different time zones are people reading the same verses of the same gospel and discussing them amongst each other and with people of other nations. (My degree was in International Relations, and I have lived all over the world as first the daughter and then the wife of diplomats, so I suppose that is why I am still a little dewey-eyed about ‘hands across the sea’ and the Anglican Communion).
Friday, February 17, 2012
Dear Ms Crouch,
I write to you as a Medway resident concerned with how alcohol is affecting my community and local services. I note with concern that data from the LAPE (Local Alcohol Profiles for England) website shows that alcohol-attributable hospital admissions in Medway for both men and women are increasing year on year.
While alcohol policy is set nationally, it is in our local communities that the damage caused by alcohol misuse is felt most deeply, particularly disadvantaged communities, which continue to suffer disproportionately from alcohol-related harms.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the Methodist Church and its partners in November 2011 found that 61% of UK adults felt that excessive drinking was a problem in their neighbourhood. You may have seen that there is increasing pressure from faith groups, charities and health bodies, who are calling on the Government to introduce a per unit minimum price on all alcohol sold in England and Wales. A study at Sheffield University found that over ten years, a 50p minimum price could save £1.37 billion in healthcare costs, £413 million in crime costs, £238 million due to workplace absence and £5.4 billion due to unemployment. For responsible drinkers like me this would mean paying only a few pence more per drink. The fantastic staff and services at Medway hospital are already overstretched – less spending on alcohol-related admissions and illnesses would free them up to improve and offer more services.
I am writing to ask you to support per unit minimum pricing and to encourage your fellow MPs to do likewise. The Scottish Parliament is currently discussing minimum unit pricing, and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are working towards a cross-border alcohol strategy including a minimum unit price. The success of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy relies on an appropriate UK-wide solution to pricing, namely per unit minimum pricing of between 40p and 50p. Medical and academic research suggests that other measures, such as the ban on below cost sales previously tabled by the Government, or tax raises, are unlikely to succeed.
I will be sharing this email publicly and will use it encourage others to also write to their MPs. With your permission, I would also like to publicly share your response to my email.
Many thanks for your time - I look forward to hearing from you,