Over the summer I read the Good Childhood Report 2019 published by The Children’s Society, and was sad, but not surprised, to learn that children and young people have become increasingly unhappy as childhood becomes ever more complex. The society’s research shows that many children are unhappy with their friendships and their appearance, and are concerned about wider issues like school culture, the experiences of those with low or strained family finances, and whether or not some children actually feel safe during the school day. Too many children are struggling with their lives now, and large numbers are also anxious about their future. Large proportions of children are worried about everything from money and getting good grades at school, to wider issues like crime and the environment.
It is so important that we keep reminding ourselves and each other that working with children and young people is one of our strategic priorities, and that as part of our Kingdom People vision we are
dedicated to helping children and young people to belong and be nurtured in faith
We can all play a part in this. Even if we don’t have many children in our church, most of us will have contact with children in our family and friendship groups. How can we better mentor them, share faith with them, instill confidence in them and communicate their inherent value to them? How can we help to ease their unhappiness? Perhaps by showing unconditional love, and spending quality time with them; certainly by committing to pray for them.
Mark Russell, Canon of Worcester Cathedral and new Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, said in his introduction to the report, “How can we enable children to thrive not just survive. How do we solve problems like rising mental ill-health, millions living in poverty and the scandal of far too many young lives being lost to knife crime and exploitation? We must start by listening to young people. I mean REALLY listening. We need to stop side-lining young people and harness their enthusiasm and radical energy for change.”
As a new school year gets underway, let’s commit afresh to helping the children of the Diocese of Worcester to belong and be nurtured in faith. Let’s pray for our church schools, all who work with children in paid or voluntary roles, and the Mission Enablers supporting churches as part of our Calling Young Disciples project, and let’s listen to the children and young people we know and harness their enthusiasm and energy for change, that their future might be full of hope, and our lives enriched by the part they play.
Archdeacon of Dudley