YCCN Relay to COP26

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YCCN Rise to the Moment logo

The Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) are organising a relay walk/pilgrimage which started at the G7 in Cornwall in June and will end in Glasgow at the end of October, ready for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26) in November. The purpose is to #RiseToTheMoment and raise awareness of the climate crisis and the urgent need for action, requiring bold commitments at COP26.

YCCN has organised the Relay to call upon the UK government to:

  1. Reinstate the foreign aid budget to pre-COVID levels;
  2. Secure agreement from rich countries to double the commitment of $100bn a year for climate finance;
  3. Develop with other governments and international organisations a new regulated climate loss and damage mechanism which not only saves lives but livelihoods;
  4. Push for the debts of the world’s poorest countries to be cancelled so they can better confront the climate crisis and other urgent priorities.

The webmap here and below shows the approximate route, which comes through the south of the diocese at the end of July, with a residency in Reading from 28-31 July on its way to London from Salisbury, then comes back through in mid-August, moving through Aylesbury, Oxford and Banbury before heading on to Birmingham. Some stops are still being confirmed so check for the latest details on the YCCN website.

YCCN Relay webmap screengrab with link

We are encouraging parishes to get involved and support this. There are many opportunities to help on the YCCN website and not just by walking – churches are needed to host walkers overnight or provide lunches as they pass, individuals are needed to be on-call support drivers in case of need or to check the routes make sense to those with local footpath knowledge. Register on their website.

Bishop Olivia, Reading Minster and other churches in Reading are involved in the Reading residency, when the relay stays from 28-31 July in Reading. Reading Minster is hosting a Climate Justice Weekend and other events are on the poster below. Join in if you can.

Reading Climate Justice Weekend Events

 

Reading Green Christians are organising an art exhibition as a chance for children and young people to tell political leaders and those in power what they want done to protect the environment and the climate. Entries from those age 6-18 are to be delivered by 20 August. Information below and more details here.

Art Call Out poster with link

 

When the route enters Oxford on Sunday 15 August ,Christ Church Cathedral will welcome the walkers. Bishop Gavin and Bishop Steven will be involved the following day as the Relay moves on from Oxford and arrives at Kidlington on Monday 16 August.

We know of some youth groups joining the walking for a day and churches hosting lunches or providing accommodation for walkers. Thank you to those for your involvement. It would be good to have a complete picture, so please email us if your church is involved.

Let’s #RiseToTheMoment and support this courageous, youth-led initiative and show that the church is deeply concerned about climate justice.

On your bike!

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Could you consider cycling?

Why not give it a go when you return to travelling more. Here are some tips and inspiration from three regular Church House Oxford (CHO) cycle commuters.

Steven Buckley, Director of Communications

How long is your commute?

I live near Reading in Berkshire, about 35 miles from the office and a couple of miles from the local train station. Prior to lockdown, I commuted daily via the train and my trusty Brompton foldable bike (which is over 16 years old). If I’m feeling fit, I cycle in from central Oxford. Otherwise, I get off at Oxford Parkway and cycle from there.

What do you gain from cycling?

The great days are when the journey by train and bike is faster than it would be by car. Oftentimes it only takes a little longer. The big thing for me is getting to work and read on the journey, rather than dead time in the car, and I’m getting my daily exercise too while doing my bit for the planet.

What’s your top cycling tip?

Just start – sticking with anything new for only a few weeks will quickly become a habit, and you’ll be amazed at the difference in your energy and happiness levels. If you’re new to cycling or unconfident, remember it’s OK to ride ‘defensively’ about a foot away from the kerb. It means you’re safe and easily seen. A common worry is arriving sweaty at work. Avoid this by wearing natural fabrics, dressing in layers, and not cycling too fast. As long as you shower before you set off you won’t be smelly, even if you do sweat. If you do want to don some Lycra and race in, then the shower facilities at CHO are fab. cycletoworkday.org has some great tips if you’d like to find out more.

Any essential equipment?

Punctures do happen from time to time, so carry a spare innertube and pump. Good lights are important too, even in the summer months.

What about bad weather?

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. I always have a rain jacket and waterproof trousers with me.

Best moment?

Cycling out of CHO and sailing past lines of traffic on a summer evening is always a special moment!

Steven's folding bicycle

Rhodri Bowen, Parish Development Adviser (Berkshire Archdeaconry)

There have been times in my life when I have commuted by bike most days. Since becoming a PDA those opportunities have been more limited, but (outside of lockdown) I cycle when my meetings are local, and I’m always using the bike to get to the post office or the shops: definitely my preferred form of transport…

What do you gain from cycling?

I love cycling, but I’m not a recreational cyclist: you’ll find no Lycra here! Ever since I was a child trapped in a rural village with limited public transport I’ve always viewed cycling as the most efficient, environmentally friendly, cost-effective way to get places – with health benefits! I like my car, but I take great pleasure in leaving it untouched. I guess it’s also turned into a bit of an unintentional challenge to keep my road bike on the road without consuming more resources. The bike itself was saved from years of disuse languishing in someone’s shed and has been repaired using reclaimed parts. I was annoyed recently at having to buy a new spoke, but since then I’ve pulled a discarded wheel out of a skip so I won’t ever have to do that again! I’ve often picked up tyres from the tip with years of use still in them – some people think they need a new set when the tread is a little bit worn like on a car: they think it improves grip (it doesn’t).

What is your top cycling tip?

You don’t need to spend any money. I haven’t ever bought any special clothes for cycling. I’ve never bought a bike, for that matter: my last two bikes were both given away by their previous owners – one through Freecycle – and if you’re a bit resourceful you can maintain them with minimum cost. I know that most people won’t want to do the repairs and maintenance themselves, and taking bikes to a repair shop is pricey. Maybe you know someone who’ll be happy to do the work for a beer! When I returned my daughter to university recently I pumped up the tyres, adjusted the brakes and oiled the chains of all the bikes that belonged to her shared house. No beers though, sadly…

Any essential equipment?

A lock. Even my rusty old rat bike will disappear at some point if I don’t lock it up. It doesn’t need to be an expensive lock unless you’re leaving it anywhere overnight or at a railway station, in which case go for a strong U lock plus a chain/cable for both wheels and, ideally, the saddle, and lock it to a post. Oh, and a set of basic LED lights, preferably rechargeable.

What about bad weather?

I get wet. But waterproof trousers are the business. A set of mudguards can make things more pleasant. I was once cycling back from a church service in a thunderstorm with a guitar on my back that was acting as an (unhelpful) sail, so I don’t recommend that. On that occasion another member of the church really kindly stopped and took my guitar home!

Advantages of cycling?

When you’re in your car you can’t just stamp on the brakes and look at a butterfly, whereas I do that sort of thing all the time when I’m on the bike, and stopping to chat is easy. I used to regularly bike across Newbury, from the logjam of the A339 on one side to the busy A4 on the other. You went from the freneticism of the road to the oasis of the canal towpath, with the opportunity to hear birdsong and greet people on the boats. For that five minutes, the pace of life just slowed, giving space for breathing and listening.

 

Rhodri on his bicycle

Tracy Makin, School Support Officer

How long is your commute?

The most direct route for me is about 10 miles from home to office, but I tend to do longer to avoid town and in summer usually make my commute home into a long training ride. Currently I am also commuting off road a lot because of the race I am training for.

What’s in it for me?

Time to clear my head.

What’s your top cycling tip?

Just get out and enjoy it.

Essential equipment?

Helmet, lights and puncture repair kit.

What about bad weather?

With the correct clothing it doesn’t matter.

Best moment?

Crossing Port Meadow on a morning with hardly anyone around and enjoying beauty and quietness.

 

Tracy with her bicycle

Climate emergency

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Schools, churches, parishioners and families will have to work together if we are to achieve net zero.

Just Three Words: Reflecting on life with Parkinson’s

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Three words is all it takes.

Three words.

But these three words will change the way you see your future…your life ahead.

And, like the tension of awarding Oscars. There seems to be a pregnant pause and then…

“You have Parkinson’s”

These three words.

For those who hear the diagnosis, it is devastating yet it is with a sense of relief that at last they know what has been bothering them for so long.

You see, the symptoms of Parkinson’s have been evident for some time, years maybe, but we didn’t know it, we didn’t realise.

One of the first things you learn when you are diagnosed is that everyone who has Parkinson’s is different.  By that it means no two people have the same symptoms.  Yes it seems unbelievable that the tell tale sign of the tremor in your hand….but wait a minute!  About a third of people diagnosed with this condition do not have a tremor.  So what other symptoms are there?

Some start to lose their sense of smell, some ‘live out’ loud and active dreams, shouting out, screaming and sometimes hitting their bed partner.  Many drool with excess saliva and have a damp pillow when they wake, lots of us find it really hard to turn over in bed, trying to shift your body but resembling a beached whale.  Walking becomes difficult, with some people ‘freezing ‘. Stuck to the spot, some taking sort shuffling steps.  Dexterity seems to leave you as you fumble in your purses, trying to pay your bill, doing up buttons and zips is challenging.  Your future looks grim as Parkinson’s is not an illness that will get better.  It is a future of not knowing what will happen to you, or your friends and partners……

Just three Words –  Your Way Ahead

Another Three Words

New friendships will be forged as common interests develop.  The WWW becomes a huge resource not just a vehicle to send pictures and e-Mails.  You can become your own expert as you keep up to date with newly published papers on areas that particularly appeals to you.

Being based in Oxfordshire there are many opportunities to take part in research projects being run by Oxford University and Brookes University.  This gives you an insight into the world of research and provides an opportunity to meet researches who are devoting their lives to helping to find ways to improve your future.

The annual Parkinson’s Awareness Week provides you with the opportunity to make your own contribution to developing a cure by raising funds and increasing awareness. There is no state funding for Parkinson’s research so every contribution is very welcome. The Oxford Walk; the BBQ in Wytham Woods; the Cheats Pub Quiz; Christmas Shopping day and Branch Meetings and Holiday are some of the ways we support fund raising and each other.

We are advised that mental and physical exercise help slow the progression.  The Branch supports this in a number of ways, with Zumba; Physiotherapy; ‘Voice’, singing in a choir, Wellbeing; Dance for Parkinson’s (Ballet with English National Ballet) to mention just some of the events that the Branch supports.

Securing shoe laces may seem to take too many attempts, but there are slip-ons and shoe horns! There is also support aids to help ones life be a little bit easier to cope with, a handle to help getting out of bed, slippy sheets to help you turn over in bed and many more small but useful things.  Life has definitely slowed down a pace and its good to cram as much as possible in the morning, and early afternoon when the drugs seem to be more effective.  Perhaps medically retired there are opportunities to volunteer at a local charity shop, take up silver jewellery making, attend the local gym and even try street dancing.

So whilst many day to day activities may take a little longer and be the cause of irritations a “Parky’s” life isn’t all bad.


This article was written by David Salisbury, a member of the Parkinson’s Society in Oxford

Take a look at www.parkinsons.org.uk for more details or get in touch with your local branch.

What’s your housing story?

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What’s Your Housing Story?

Last week I watched the BBC documentary No Place to Call Home. It told the moving stories of people facing homelessness in the Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The diversity of the stories were a reminder of the ways in which housing is becoming an increasing problem for people from all parts of our communities.

Stories of Homelessness

A student parent shared her story of being told to leave her family home after she became pregnant. As a student she had no entitlement to housing benefit and began sofa surfing. Three years later she, her boyfriend and their 2 year old child were still sleeping on sofas.

Whilst her partner worked full time as a railway worker, his £900 per month earnings couldn’t match the £950-1000 needed for even a basic flat in the borough. Housing officers suggested that the student give up her teaching degree in order to qualify for housing benefit, but the degree was the families main hope for a more prosperous future.

For a South African woman, ill health was the tipping point between maintaining a private rental and a rapid fall into homelessness. After 12 years of working as a special needs teacher, a serious car crash led to the loss of her job. Without this income her rent became a struggle and the woman had to leave her tenancy. As a single person without a significant disability, the council decided it had no duty to house her.

After one cold and fearful night in her car, the woman found a way to a church-run winter night shelter. She was relieved to see mattresses spaced out for privacy, fresh bedding, a hot meal and people to talk to. In tears she told the staff that it was the first place she had felt safe in a long time.

The Bigger Picture

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Homelessness is rapidly increasing as housing becomes less affordable and private rentals remain relatively insecure. In Milton Keynes there has been a 96% increase in the number of families in temporary accommodation since last year. And in Oxford 3000 people are waiting for social housing with only 500 expected to be placed over the course of the year.

Churches’ Response

We already know that many churches are responding to meet the needs of those on the streets through winter night shelters (like those in Bracknell, Milton Keynes, Reading and Slough) and through longer term work in supported housing projects (such as St Aldate’s ACT project). We would love to hear from other churches and groups involved in this work.

Responding to wider issues of housing need is crucial in providing long term solutions to homelessness. We know that there is a real need for landlords to get involved in social letting, and in modelling the highest ethical standards (perhaps through supporting initiatives such as the Quaker run Ethical Landlords Association). Investors may be able to support social letting funds or set up deposit guarantee schemes. Churches with land to spare can contribute by working with external agencies on developing genuinely affordable housing (as Littlemore Baptist have done).

Others may be able to volunteer as befrienders, offering the relational support which can help people to sustain a private tenancy for the first time.

What’s your Housing Story?

Over the coming months we’ll be listening to stories from across the diocese as part of our efforts to respond to issues of housing and homelessness. If you have experienced difficulties with housing or if you work to provide for housing needs we’d love to hear from you.

Contact: Bethan Willis – bethan.willis@oxford.anglican.org