Crisis, Comfort, and Celebration: The future of community services for the non-religious

Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services for the BHA, came to speak to Plymouth Humanists in July.  


He was a last minute substitute for Andrew Copson, who unfortunately was unable to join us.  Although Teddy had never given this talk before, he was an excellent speaker and gave a fascinating and lively account of the BHA’s work providing ceremonies to mark significant life events, supporting initiatives to promote the teaching of Humanism in schools and engaging with the wider community.

Teddy was once an evangelical Christian, but teaching in a faith school made him realise how wrong he was.  During his ‘angry atheist’ phase he discovered videos by Andrew Copson, and thought Humanism was a ‘nice thing’. After a career as a teacher and a period as National Development Manager: children, families and education for Mencap, Teddy joined the BHA as Director of Community Services .

Funerals and weddings are the most well known forms of Humanist ceremonies, but naming ceremonies are also popular.  Although some may doubt their value, Teddy pointed out that anyone who thinks Naming Ceremonies are self indulgent, are missing the point of celebrating a new life.

As well as providing occasions to mark significant stages in people's life, the BHA also provides support to teachers to help them teach about Humanist. It is important to get  actual Humanists into schools, as research has shown, that if you are presented with someone who holds a particular belief, it helps breaks down any barriers there might be. As Teddy said, it is now more important than ever that we need to expose children to a wide variety of different people.

Teddy pointed out that It is not always best to debate theists (even if it is fun), but instead is better to build bridges, create dialogue and remove misconceptions.  

Faith to Faithless is a service the BHA are trying to get started to support people leaving their faith. Having the right to choose to leave faith is a fundamental one and the BHA want provide support for people who wish to do so.