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Improving mental and spiritual health, digitally

A Bristol digital company led by a Baptist minister has won contracts to support new prayer and mental health resources following surge in people accessing faith online during lockdown

better story website 2

Lockdown has driven innovation in many sectors – but a company led by a Baptist minister is at the forefront of perhaps one of the most surprising new developments of all; the thriving relationship between faith and technology.

Digital impact company Better Story in Bristol has won contracts with two national charities to improve mental and spiritual health, as surveys show that since lockdown one in four (26 per cent) British adults have prayed for an end to the Covid-19 crisis and for people working on the frontline, and a quarter (24 per cent) of UK adults also say they have watched or listened to a religious service.

Dan Doherty Better StoryBetter Story was founded by Baptist minister the Revd Dan Doherty (pictured) who trained in IT and videoconferencing before working as a minister and charity CEO. Part of his time is now spent leading the Better Story team who are inspired by their faith to tell stories of the world becoming a better place.

Better Story combines story-telling, video-making, graphic design and app development to help organisations share their messages, and has been commissioned by national charity Hope Together to create a digital resource to help new people understand and engage in prayer.

Better Story is also working with national charity, The Ugly Duckling Company, to create an online tool to help young people improve their mental health.

Dan said, 'There was a joke on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that ‘the Church had broken the internet’ one Sunday morning because of the surge in use by people accessing church online.

'These are the kinds of phrases we could never have imagined a couple of months ago. But the desire to connect is strong and many churches are embracing the opportunities that a digital presence brings.

'A survey commissioned by the charity Tearfund showed that one in 20 people who are accessing services online have never gone to church.

'With that in mind we are working with Hope Together to help people new to prayer to understand and engage in prayer by creating an animated ‘prayer journey’ and interactive ‘prayer wall’ website. The resource will be available online by mid-July and hopefully also in pop-up shops throughout the country, giving people the opportunity to access free resources to continue their spiritual journey.

'We are delighted to be able to help people explore spirituality and faith at a time when Covid-19 has led to many of us asking the bigger questions about life.'

A report by children and young people’s mental health charity, Young Minds, also found that 32 per cent of young people surveyed felt that coronavirus had made their mental health much worse, while more than 50 per cent agreed it had made their mental health a bit worse.

Dan continued: 'We are also working with The Ugly Duckling Company to create 10:10, an innovative resource designed to help young people discover and experiment with ideas that can enable them to develop a happier and full life.

'It uses film, expert content, group discussions and creative exercises to help young people explore ideas such as purpose, thankfulness, kindness, forgiveness, healthy relationships and coping strategies to help equip them to look after their mind, body and soul.

'The impact of lockdown and coronavirus has been so far-reaching and to be part of giving people tools to find a way through it is hugely rewarding for us. It feels as if churches and faith organisations are just scratching the surface of where the relationship between faith and technology can lead and we are delighted to be part of that journey.'


Baptist Times, 29/06/2020
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