Lots of responses have been set up across the country to enable community support at this time. Churches have crucial links into community networks, and often understand the needs of the community well due to experience of frontline work.
Getting involved in community support will become one of the ways churches continue to express their worship and service over the coming months. As the situation changes, this might look different. Some key principles for supporting your community as a church are:
- Working with the networks already established – One of the quickest and most effective ways of supporting the response is by using networks that are already established. Get in touch with leaders of local networks (see some examples below) to ensure that your response is co-ordinated.
- Looking after yourself and each other – Working together as a community is really important at this time. But we still need to maintain the social distancing and protection guidance issued by the government and the NHS. You should always follow guidance, which you can find here. You should also refer closely to the guidance issues by your denomination – you can find links to these here.
- Sharing the load – There will be a lot to do over the coming months. As church and community leaders, your instinctual response might be to try and support as much as you can. Working within existing networks and communicating with others will be key to making sure that our response is connected and sustainable, and that you are taken care of.
Here we have brought together some guidance on supporting your community. We will also be sharing stories of how this is already being done across the country on our blog.
We would like to hear your stories, particularly Good News stories, about how you are responding in your community. You can contact JPIT here:
Citizens Advice have produced some guidance on how and where to seek help if you work or finances are affected by COVID-19, and the changes to various support systems. You can find this here.
Those who have a medical condition that makes them extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus can register to get help with delivery of essential supplies like food. You can refer yourself or someone else here.
The National Estate Churches Network (NECN) are hosting a weekly space for shared reflection in these challenging times, exploring What does it mean to be a Church on the Margins in a time of coronavirus?
You can find out more information and register here: https://being-a-church-on-the-margins.eventbrite.co.uk
Mutual Aid Networks
Mutual Aid Networks have been set up across the country to enable support for those who are self-isolating or who are unable to access resources. These are often being co-ordinated by Facebook or WhatsApp.
It might be useful to get in touch with the co-ordinator of your local area groups and share the direct support you are able to offer as a church community, whether that is time, space, knowledge of community need or resources. This will make sure that you are not replicating work, and also enable key links to be built.
The Trussell Trust have issued a direct appeal to churches to support their work at this time. Many foodbanks are threatened with closure due to their volunteers going into isolation. They are calling for working-age people in good health to volunteer. You can find their appeal here.
As a church you might have direct links with people who are able to fill this need. You should get in touch with your local foodbank, which you may already have links with. If not, you can search by postcode here.
Other organisations such as FareShare are working to distribute food to those who need it. Many local groups are particularly in need of drivers to deliver food parcels. If you are not already linked with your local project, you can get in touch here.
People who are homeless or living in temporary accommodation are particularly at risk. You might be supporting Night Shelters or accommodation projects in your area.
Housing Justice have provided some guidance on how you can continue to safely support people at this time. You can find this here.
Homeless have produced some guidance here.
The Government have produced guidelines for day centres and night shelters. You can find this here.
You may have people in your community who will struggle financially as a result of the crisis. Mechanisms such as Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay are being used to provide a safety net for those who need it.
The Just Finance Foundation have put together some guidance on key issues people could be facing. Find their Corona Virus Help Hub here.
Paul has written about the updates to Universal Credit. You can read this here.
Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Asylum Seekers and Refugees may be finding this time particularly challenging, due to lack of support or resources.
Doctors of the World have translated the latest government guidance into 20 languages, to support those for whom English is not their first language.
Student Action for Refugees (SAFR) have produced some guidance on supporting refugees during COVID-19. You can find this here.
Our partners at Welcome Churches have produced Corona Virus contact cards in six different languages, to support the refugees living in our communities. Find them here.
Right to Remain have produced some guidance on the changes to the asylum and immigration process due to COVID-19. Find it here.
Many local services for refugees and asylum seekers have temporarily closed due to COVID-19. You can find a list of services through the Refugee Council, to contact your local groups for information. Find it here.
Those experiencing domestic abuse are at a much higher risk due to social distancing measures. Josie has written about the effect of this here.
Restored have offered some helpful guidance on working from home when you live with an abusive partner, and how to support employees or those you are aware may be experiencing this. You can find this here.
The Arthur Rank Centre have produced support and guidance for rural communities responding to COVID-19. You can find this here.