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Church News

Bishop of Durham says the "well being of children should be at the heart of national policy"

by Cara Bentley

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, has told Premier about the importance of children in the decisions the Church and Government makes.

As schools and churches remain closed for majority of families, children have had an unusual few months. 

Parents have had to juggle Zoom calls with activity books and children have been rather at the mercy of how much time, money and experience their parents have. 

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, has been speaking to Premier's Sunday Night Live programme about the Biblical importance of children. 

He said: "I've been reflecting over recent days on where we've placed children in our thinking as a nation and as a church, throughout the whole of the pandemic and in this whole business of recovering and recovering well and 'building back better' - to use the political phrase. 

"Well if we're going to 'build back better', one of the things might be that we put the child in the midst of us, to help us in our thinking about how we do church better...What does it look like if we think first 'So how are the children being welcomed and accommodated?' and 'how are the children being involved in our worship and in our learning, as we begin to worship afresh?' Or is all our thinking around how we get back for adults and then 'oh, what about children? What about the young people?'"

Schools across the UK have been closed for weeks, with some year groups going back in England but all expected to return in the new term. 

Bishop Paul added: "Children have not been at the heart of the forward planning, national government or at local government level. They need to be at the heart of our planning. Their well being, their welfare has to be not simply about health - it has to be about their social well being, has to be about their relational well being, it has to be about their spiritual well being. 

"So returning to school matters enormously, but so does the capacity to be able to mix and to play and so on. There's all the difficult issues around how you do that in the context of a pandemic. But the well being of children should be at the heart of national policy. That should be the core priority for us as a nation. How are the little ones being cared for?"

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