The Church of England’s volunteering crisis

John Betjeman knew that a church cannot run on prayers alone. ‘Let’s praise the man who goes to light the church stove on an icy night,’ he wrote in his poem ‘Septuagesima’, going on to celebrate the ‘hard-worked’ wardens, cleaners, treasurers, the organist and, most of all, ‘the few who are seen in their accustomed pew’ come rain or shine. ‘And though they be but two or three,’ he concluded. ‘They keep the church for you and me.’ In smaller churches, filling voluntary vacancies is a headache, not helped by ever-increasing bureaucracy Some vicars today may feel fortunate to garner two or three volunteers. A recent Church Times survey found

Letters: Why aren’t Italians fighting for their liberty?

Wage concern Sir: Martin Vander Weyer’s call for higher wages to end the shortage of British HGV drivers (‘Your country needs you at the wheel of a lorry’, 7 August) should be extended to other hard-pressed economic areas which have lost cheap labour from the poorer EU countries. For far too long, farming, hospitality, construction, care homes and other vital services have failed to recruit and train local staff or pay a decent wage. Low wages at the bottom of the economy increase the cost of social welfare benefits, bring in less or no money from income tax and VAT and thus adversely affect the whole economy. David Thompson Capel

My failed attempts to be a good Samaritan

I’ve been trying to be a good Samaritan for some time now and failing. But this week I discovered that even well-trained, experienced good Samaritans — who work for the Samaritans — can fail too. Reports have surfaced revealing the ‘abuse’ of vulnerable callers by a small number of the charity’s phone volunteers. It’s a sad state of affairs when even the Samaritans are subject to scandal. They do excellent work and have always been the Eton of Britain’s volunteer sector. Two years ago, I tried to get in and failed, which was a bit of a shock. I’d assumed that my listening skills would make me the ideal volunteer.