Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

UK needs help, warns Archbishop

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in Edwards Bar in Cardiff

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told a gathering of young drinkers that the UK is a "society that needs help" because it thinks it is "going down the tubes".

Rowan Williams told an event organised by Solace, a church group that meets in pubs and clubs, that the nation "does not seem to like itself very much".

In his talk at Edwards Bar in Cardiff, Dr Williams, who is from Swansea, asked: "Can God mend broken Britain?".

He said the challenge was to tackle how people felt about their society.

The talk was advertised on the social networking site Facebook, while Christmas shoppers were also targeted with fliers ahead of the event.

At the start of the meeting Dr Williams and the group were shown a video using the music from the film Mission Impossible.

We feel that somehow or other we are always at risk of collapsing still further... we feel we are going down the tubes
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

The archbishop said the video illustrated "a picture of a country and a society that doesn't seem to like itself very much".

"I think if you picked up almost any one of the national papers, if you looked at lots of news shows, one of the impressions you would carry away is this is not a society that really likes itself very much," he said.

"We feel uncomfortable about all kinds of things. We often say in surveys, especially younger people, that we are not very happy.

"We look around for people to blame. We feel that somehow or other we are always at risk of collapsing still further. We feel we are going down the tubes.

'Nothing in the bank'

"And when a society is that unhappy about where it is and how it is that society has a problem.

Members of the audience listen to Dr Williams in the Cardiff bar
Members of the audience listen to Dr Williams in the Cardiff bar

"If you listen to any individual talking day after day week after week saying 'Oh I'm rubbish, I'm not worth it, I'm worried about what will happen to me tomorrow because I've got nothing really in the bank.'

"Sooner or later you would say to them, I think, 'You need help'. And I think this is a society that needs help."

"So, broken Britain not in the sense that actually everything is breaking up and going to the dogs. But that's how people feel and how people feel is a big fact about how they behave and interact."

Dr Williams said it was only when those feelings were addressed that problems could begin to be solved.

After his address, Dr Williams took part in a question-and-answer session.

Solace was founded in 2007 by Wendy Sanderson, of the Church Army, and Baptist minister James Karran, with the aim of making church more accessible for young people.

Previous speakers at Solace include a Christian couple who set up an online sex aid shop to spice up people's marriages.

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