Bishop of Durham says social and spiritual health needs to be part of Government’s covid lockdown decisions

On 14th October 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Covid-19 update that had been given to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister. The Bishop of Durham spoke in response:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: In welcoming the fact that places of worship have been allowed to continue to open—that is partly a recognition of their important place in the life of the nation—I note that the Prime Minister spoke still in the binaries of economic health and medical health that we have heard throughout the course of the pandemic. However, the nation’s health is more than this binary. The Government must surely no longer overlook the need to protect the nation’s social and spiritual health too. The Christian faith is clear that well-being is far more than being medically healthy or simply alive; rather, it involves social engagement, emotional nourishment, spiritual rest and love from good community. Will the Government acknowledge the nation’s need for social and spiritual health by including experts on social well-being in all future conversations around lockdown measures?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con): I agree with the right reverend Prelate that that is the dilemma being faced. As he rightly says, harm to health is harm to the economy and harm to the economy is harm to health: these things are all interlinked, which is why this is a very difficult situation and why difficult decisions are having to be made about how to balance them. I can assure him that that is at the forefront of our thoughts. As part of the ongoing discussions around decisions being made about national and local levels, I know that Cabinet colleagues and the Prime Minister are talking to a huge range of people with different backgrounds to make sure that we get that right and get the country moving in the right direction.

Bishop of Durham on lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 31st October 2019 Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth moved a Motion, “that this House takes note of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, drawing attention to the work of churches and others in supporting the survivors, and the wider issues of neglect within the community.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Whips Office for understanding that my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans cannot speak due to the change of time, and that I have been allowed to speak in his place.

It is important for us to remember that for the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, who have now suffered for so long, the past week has been particularly difficult. The report mentions many contributing factors, including issues of fire safety, communication between emergency services, building regulations and the use of materials. In his introduction, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, spoke eloquently on all those, and many other noble Lords will be able to speak about them from a position of informed authority.

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Bishop of Coventry on the place of theatre in upcoming Coventry City of Culture celebrations

Coventry171122 bOn 11th June 2019 the Earl of Glasgow led a short debate on the question to Government, “what assessment they have made of the operation of the theatre market in (1) London, and (2) elsewhere in the United Kingdom; and what steps they are taking to ensure that theatre is accessible to as wide an audience as possible.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Dr Christopher John Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, even though the Arts Council analysis of theatre in England reveals how the Midlands is underserved in theatre, I speak from a diocese that has international, national, regional and local treasures, and from a city that will be the UK’s City of Culture in 2021.

The million or so people of Coventry and Warwickshire are rich in creativity and are reaching out for the sort of accessibility that is the intention of the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, whom I thank for securing this important debate and for his wide-ranging introductory speech. I am very glad to speak in this debate, not least because I am the only speaker in costume today—fittingly dressed.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 10th June 2019 the House of Lords heard repeated a statement by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

Coventry171122 bThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I echo the praise that has already been given to the emergency services following both Barking and the Grenfell disaster. I welcome the Statement’s recognition of the power of community and its commitment to a new and stronger partnership between residents and those who serve them, for trust to rebuilt and, in particular, for the council to listen and the community to be heard.

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