This page will be updated as we get information in a fast-changing situation.

The Diocese of London website outlining this information is here

If you know of information we should include that would be useful for churches as they seek to serve the most vulnerable in their communities, please do get in touch: alison@capitalmass.org.uk

Last updated: Wed 25th March 2020

Foodbanks

Wherever possible, even after the most recent lockdown, foodbanks in London are staying open.

The Trussell Trust have put out guidance for those operating foodbanks here This states:

food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks can continue to open for those sessions, provided we follow social distancing rules, because your work qualifies you as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’. We have provided all food banks in our network with a letter for workers, to explain their role so it is clear why they’re leaving the house. However each foodbank will need to assess it’s own situation as to whether it can continue.

The Diocesan guidance on foodbanks is here

“Can my church continue to run its food bank?” We are encouraging church people to do everything they can to support food banks and they do not need to close. Handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer should be provided for volunteers and food bank users and particular care given to cleaning any contact surfaces (doors and door handles, counters, toilet facilities). Ask people to maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres.

The general need for foodbanks, across the Diocese is:

  • food donations - each provides a list of what they particularly need
  • healthy volunteers who are not in the “at risk” category
  • drivers with vehicles to do deliveries

Do please check with your local foodbank to find out whether they are open, as the situtaion is rapidly developing.

A comprehensive list of foodbanks across the Diocese is below, which includes contact details, and when/where they are accepting food donations (correct as of 20/3/20).

Homelessness

The Diocese of London has released guidance on the provision of homelessness support, following on from the instruction to close all places of worship. It can be found here

Can my church continue to run its soup kitchen or equivalent? It can, but we recommend that volunteers maintain strict social distancing and that clients are asked to queue outside and come in one by one to receive a pre-packed meal/food parcel to take away.

Our church runs a drop in centre for homeless people. How do we manage the current situation? The latest government advice can be found here. Churches may remain open to offer this kind of provision and should follow any updates to government advice. Your insurance company should also be kept updated.

Groundswell have produced Coronavirus advice and planning for people experiencing homelessness here

Homeless Link have put together more information and resources on who is doing what to support those who find themselves street homeless during the outbreak, here

Housing Justice, who co-ordinate and support many of the church run night shelter circuits guidance and information is here

Many church run night shelter circuits will be responding locally; contact them for more details about how to help.

Financial Problems / Income Shock

The Coronavirus has plunged so many previously “financially stable” people into money crisis: loss of jobs, businesses, income, worry about paying bills. Those who were already on low income with little financial resilience are in even worse a position.

Given that 4 in 10 of us have less than £100 in savings, many of us are either in this situation, or are supporting people in our parishes, communities, or friendship groups who are. And worry about money is very real, particualrly when this situation has come out the blue, with not time for planning or saving.

Capital Mass is responding in two ways:

1) Online resource of where you can signpost people for help, up to date information and support here

2) a 2 hour webinar as a “one stop shop” of how to start helping people you know in your church or community who is struggling financially. Details for this webinar are here

Mental Health

It is not suprising that this crisis has caused many people a great deal of fear and anxiety and a deal of grief. Many people who have underlying mental health issues may be really struggling; for others the stress of this situation may be the cause of mental health issues.

The Church of England have produced a useful guide here

Together Network’s Guide - Looking after your Wellbeing here

National charities are providing resources to help with your mental health at this time:

Mind.org

Mentalhealth.org

Supporting the Isolated and Vulnerable

We know that most churches within their congregations those who are isolated and vulnerable. And all churches are placed within communities that definitely have them; and as the virus strikes and people need to self isolate, they themselves become vulnerable.

The Diocese have issued some guidance on how we might care for people here

We are encouraging churches to find creative ways of staying in touch with those who are isolated and vulnerable and to give them spiritual support and also practical support as far as possible. We have published a list of digital and print resources and we are also developing new content

Please also follow government guidelines at this time- which do include permission to go out in order to help and support the vulnerable (eg food drops) while maintaining a 2m distance from anyone else. For more details on government instructions while in lockdown, click here