The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—
Families and Marriages
My hon. Friend will be delighted to learn that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have launched a families and households commission, which will be chaired by Professor Janet Walker, emeritus professor of family policy at Newcastle University, and the Bishop of Durham, who is the Church of England’s lead on family policy.
This has been a tough year for families, but the strain on family life began long before covid, with policies encouraging parents to work longer hours, the breakdown of family relationships and the toxic effects of social media. In my surgeries, I meet many parents deeply concerned about their children’s mental health but not knowing where to turn for help. The local church could be well placed to support families in this area, so what plans does the Church have to encourage, empower and equip parents as they do their best to raise children in such a challenging time?
My hon. Friend is right to raise all those issues. We know that it is generally far better for the mental health of children that they are in school, which is why Church schools have stayed open as much as possible. Millions of home-schooled children have also used the “Faith at Home” online resources provided by the Church. Many parishes are now reopening their early years and children’s programmes, and the Church is actively working to provide more children’s and youth work in future.