News sheet August 23rd

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Dear Friends
We hope Philip and Angela are enjoying a well-deserved holiday in the West Country, so it's Liz here again this week.

Statistics seem to have dominated our news headlines for months. Colleagues who have worked with me in my former life in education will be able to testify that I am not so hot on statistical data. I was never a lover of Maths at school and the use of algorithms largely passed me by! However I understand enough to know that if you put rubbish in you get rubbish out, and that if you are given a specific outcome you can manipulate the data to achieve it. It is Benjamin Disraeli who is attributed with the saying "there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics."

I wonder if you've ever felt that you were just a statistic. A few conversations I have had with people in the last couple of weeks give me that sense.

Jackie (63yrs) has been made redundant due to the COVID crisis. She has just too much in savings to qualify for Universal Credit and although she had expected to get her State Pension at 60 she will not now get it until she is 66yrs. She is busy filling job application forms but many don't even reply.

Now that her son has left home Marcia is being fined £50 as "bedroom tax" from her Universal Credit even though the Housing Association can't find her a 1 bed place to swap to. She doesn't know how to make ends meet.

Jane was extremely anxious about her A level results. Her home life has been complicated over the last 2 years and she felt that her future depended on doing well. She was amongst those whose results were downgraded from teacher assessments and her offers from Universities were rescinded. After the re-grading, and a week on an emotional roller coaster, thankfully she now has an offer — but not from her original choice of universities.

To those feeling depersonalised by their situation I would say: "Don't believe that you are just a number on a list. You are to be valued for who you are, not what you do or achieve. That's the way God loves each one of us; unconditionally — and nothing can separate us from that love."

Romans 8: 38-39 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below--indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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