“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets”. Zechariah 8: 4-5 (ESV)
Welcome to this May Faith in Later Life newsletter and thank you for your continued interest and support. As ever, if there is any content you would like to see in our newsletters that is currently missing, then do get in touch– and please do invite others to sign up to receive our news; you can do this by pressing the ‘forward’ button at the bottom of this email. We hope you enjoy reading this month’s newsletter.
Old versus young?
Last month saw the House of Lords committee report on intergenerational fairness and provision, which perhaps unsurprisingly focuses on young people, and called on the government to “take steps to deliver a fairer society by supporting younger people in the housing and employment market…” Whilst it is good to invest in young people, it is not an ‘either or’ situation, and Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive for the Centre for Ageing Better, responded saying:
“Britain urgently needs policies that work for people of all ages and which tackle the challenges brought about by increasing socioeconomic and health inequalities. Many young people are struggling on low wages at the same time as pensioner poverty is increasing for the first time in a decade…This is not about old versus young, it’s about creating a society where everyone regardless of income or background can enjoy every stage of life. Headline grabbing proposals like abolishing free TV licenses based on age risk distracting from the big structural changes needed across housing, work and communities.”
Of course, we agree, and want older people to ‘enjoy’ life, but our biblical mandate gives us a much deeper moral purpose when it comes to how we treat those in later life. The scripture at the beginning of this newsletter also paints a wonderful picture of old and young co-existing together- and if churches can model an intergenerational approach, by God’s grace Society will see the benefits. If your church does anything particularly well by way of intergenerational activity, do get in touch, we’d love to hear about it.
Christian groups meet Minister for Tackling Loneliness
Faith in Later Life is part of a loose coalition of Christian charities who all have a common interest in alleviating loneliness (although this is only a part of what Faith in Later Life does). Representatives of ‘Christians Together Against Loneliness’ met last week with Mims Davies, the government minister with responsibility for tackling loneliness.
The coalition of charities is working to highlight to government the vital work that churches and faith groups have been doing for many years to address issues of loneliness and social isolation – which are gaining increasing profile across society. At the meeting, Mims Davies MP recognised the value of faith groups’ work and agreed with the need for this to be effectively joined up with efforts across civil society and government.
The Minister singled out befriending as a key strategy for tackling loneliness and something that churches and faith groups traditionally excel at. She also mentioned the importance of volunteering, recognising Christian groups as important centres for this, particularly when it comes to including people with disabilities and supporting them to volunteer. And she signalled her desire not only to unpick the stigma around loneliness, but also to help find a way to overcome any reluctance that other organisations might have around working with faith groups. The coalition is now developing a toolkit for churches and faith groups to help inspire and equip them as they reach out to their neighbours.
A key part of what Faith in Later Life offers is encouraging church to reach out to those in later life in the wider community, that they many not be lonely, but ultimately that they may come into relationship with the Lord Jesus. Does your church hold any outreach groups at which older people are particularly welcome? If so, please tell us so we can add it to our Activities Directory. To do so please click here.
Book of the month
The Pilgrims’ Friend Society annual conference (at which Faith in Later Life was featured) was an excellent day, with 350 delegates enjoying fellowship and (scriptural) feeding. Professor Wyatt delivered an excellent and quite profound, but also practical, keynote Bible address. This and the other sessions will be available to view online in due course, but in the meantime his latest book “Dying Well”, features as our ‘book of the month’ on the Faith in Later Life website, so do have a look- it is well worth a read. Click here for more.
Thanks to the continued growth and interest in Faith in Later Life, we now have approaching one hundred Faith in Later Life ‘Church Champions’, across churches in the UK and beyond. As the year progresses and we start planning a number of practical resources and toolkits for churches in their ministries with older people, our ‘Church Champions’ will be kept updated and will be first in line to benefit from the various resources that Faith in Later Life produces. Our Church Champions are a really valuable link between us and churches- and the role is not onerous, so if you are interested in finding out more, do get in touch.
In the media
I was recently invited onto UCB2 (Christian radio) to talk about Faith in Later Life, in more depth than on previous occasions- as well as sharing a bit about myself. If you would like to listen to the podcast, you can do so via our website by clicking here.
Yours in Christ,
Director, Faith in Later Life