It's time to gossip some good news

LOVE and money may make the world go round, but gossip can also put people in a spin. Minding one’s own business used to be a quality learnt at home and school. Nowadays, thanks to social media, it seems that personal business is no longer quite so private.

In our celebrity-fixated society hardly a day goes by without someone’s reputation or career being ruined by a few careless words – whether they reveal a kiss-and-tell story or are part of a deliberate campaign to damage the popularity of someone in the public eye.

Picture perfect

IN 1988, I lost my older brother in a car accident. In 1989, my dad, who was also involved in the accident, died. The following year, my mum could no longer cope, so she took her own life. In three consecutive years, I lost three important people in my life. I was 18 years old and completely mentally and emotionally shattered.’

It’s not the life Adebanji pictured for himself when he was young. Born in Hackney, East London, he filled his days by learning about football players and drawing them.

Seen and heard

THEY are the unheard victims. Young children who have been sexually assaulted by other young children. According to an investigation carried out by BBC One’s Panorama, since 2013 the number of reported sexual assaults perpetrated by under-tens on other primary school children has doubled. In 2013, the figure was 204. Last year, it was 456.

The programme spoke to a senior police officer, who calculated that only one in eight such offences are reported. If true, this puts the number of such incidents in the thousands.

We offer women ex-offenders a working chance

‘WOMEN prisoners aren’t the problem,’ says Jocelyn Hillman who, in 2009, founded Working Chance, a recruitment consultancy for women with convictions. ‘Employers are the problem because they are prejudiced towards people with convictions.’

Working Chance began when Jocelyn started cold-calling businesses, trying to get them to rethink their attitude towards hiring ex-offenders.

Wealth is no safe haven from suffering

THE advice of a well-meaning friend can sometimes have the opposite effect to what they intended.

For instance, when worried about whether an outfit looks OK, we don’t really want a negative answer to the question, ‘Do I look good in this?’ If a less-than-flattering comment comes, we might reply: ‘Oh, you’re a proper Job’s comforter.’

This phrase stems from an Old Testament story. The Bible describes Job as ‘blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’ (Job 1:1 New International Version).

We're all part of the circle of life

Lizzie, you have visited hundreds of schools and churches to talk about God and science. What is the hardest question you are asked?

It’s usually something along the lines of, ‘If the God you believe in is good, why do bad things happen?’ or ‘Why do good people die?’

Bet your life

BET there’ll be a gambling advert at half-time. Barely a Sky Sports ad break goes by without armchair fans being invited to pick up their mobile and have a punt. From score predictions and casino games to bingo and slots, laddishly guised Lady Luck invites would-be punters to tap-tap-boom their hard-earned cash away. Oh, and coyly warns ‘when the fun stops, stop’. And that’s the problem – there are many who can’t stop.

Detention is going nowhere

‘I SAW a lot of people in detention who were struggling with mental health problems,’ says the Rev Nathan Ward, who, before becoming a priest, worked

from 2011 to 2014 as a manager in two immigration removal centres (IRCs).

‘One of the most disturbing instances I experienced was when a man threatened to kill himself while he was on the phone to his nine-year-old son, saying goodbye to him,’ Nathan says. ‘I was in charge of managing him. Thankfully, the man did not kill himself. But the incident shows how desperate people

Dodgy characters trade on vulnerability

EVERY couple of weeks I receive an email from the county council Trading Standards department, warning me about rogue traders in my area.

This week’s email contained news of several high-pressure doorstep salesmen selling solar panels, new roofs, home improvements and fake but expensive-looking French cookware.

Teaching children is a big ask

Lizzie, what does your work entail? I am a scientist by background, having studied natural sciences at Cambridge University. My team and I meet under-18-year-olds in schools, churches and youth groups to help them explore questions about science and religious faith.

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