31 August 2005

Meetings to highlight the importance of spirituality for young people

Recent research commissioned by the Commission on Urban Life and Faith shows that, while 70% of young people who live in urban areas said they felt live was worth living, 52% said they often feel depressed and 27% have sometimes considered taking their own life.

The World Health Organisation shows that young people in Britain are amongst the unhappiest in Europe and this detailed research adds to the concern. At the same time the media often give young people a hard time. There is therefore a pressing need to consider the well being of young people in Britain, especially those in areas of multiple deprivation.

There is now an opportunity to discuss these and other issues that affect young people's well being and how this may influence our work with young people today. The Methodist Church is organising events around the country to enable all those who work with young people in any capacity to be involved in such discussions.

These events will draw on the extensive research prompted by the Commission on Urban Life and Faith and undertaken by the University of Wales, Bangor and The Children's Society. They will inform the churches' and others' youth work and will provide useful material to feedback to government in response to their Youth Green Paper.

Steve Pearce, Methodist Secretary for Children, said: 'Young people in our towns and cities face tremendous pressure, and we owe it to both them and those who work with them to offer all the time, support and insight we can. The churches and other faith groups have a genuine desire to help young people and their know-how in the area of spirituality can be a major contribution to youth and children's work. The research conducted by the Commission on Urban Life and Faith and The Children's Society shows just how much difference spirituality makes to young lives and their sense of purpose. The Church, through this initiative, is sharing its commitment with all who are working for the well being of young people.

'These seminars offer a chance for church leaders, youth workers, local government and everyone else concerned with the well-being of young people a chance to come together to discuss these vitally important topics. The report gives us a previously unavailable insight into the role of spirituality in young people's lives, and these meetings will provide a unique opportunity to develop this further.'

Baroness Kathleen Richardson will chair some of the seminars. She said: 'these seminars will be very interesting to anyone involved with children's work in our urban areas. The research from CULF and the Children's Society raises many important questions about the spiritual needs and beliefs of children, and how these make a difference to their lives and actions. Faith communities of all types have important roles to play in the development of our children, and in overcoming the negative image of urban youth that too many people have. Faith groups can provide the positive adult role models, sense of purpose and the moral practical guidance that children clearly need.'

The seminars take place in Brixton, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Newcastle in September and October. They are aimed at voluntary sector professionals, children and youth workers, social workers, health care professionals, local government workers, clergy, and others concerned with the well being of young people.

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