Church in Action
'Church and Community join forces to help families fight hunger in lockdown'
- "An exclusive report by Guardian.co.uk has revealed that almost a fifth of households with children have been unable to access enough food in the past five weeks, with meals being skipped and children not getting enough to eat as already vulnerable families battle isolation and a loss of income..." (read more here)
'How one church is making a difference in the lives of vulnerable families during Coronavirus lockdown' - "The Government has called on all of us to distance ourselves from our colleagues, friends and even family members who aren’t living in our households, for the benefit of everyone. More than ever, this is a time to provide crucial support to children and families most isolated and vulnerable at this time..." (read more here)
Ebenezer Church in Bristol have created a fantastic section on their website - full of resources and activities for children at home. Find it here
Interpersonal Conflict Resource - "There is already evidence to suggest that rates of domestic abuse are increasing during the current COVID-19 situation, with some Police forces in England already noticing an increase in reports of domestic abuse." This is really helpful resource for Christians and Church leaders who want to know more about this important issue, and ways the Church can respond. Find out more here
Restored is an international Christian Alliance that aims to transform relationships and end violence against women by working through and with the church and Christians worldwide. Restored have a huge amount of resources on their website, including those to equip church leaders to respond in the best way possible to the challenges that Covid-19 brings to women and child victims of domestic abuse. Find out more here
Supporting families during lockdown
Here in Combe Down Bath we have two quite different churches within a mile of each other. Both are focused on Jesus and both are lively; one set in the old village and one on the council estate. As an Associate Minister one of my responsibilities is for families across the whole area. In my role I have enjoyed co-ordinating all the usual toddler groups, family support schemes, parenting courses, home visits etc to meet their pastoral needs. All this has, of course, now changed.
When lockdown began I set up various WhatsApp groups to connect the parents of different aged children so they could share ideas on home schooling, creative projects, ‘how not to murder your child or partner?!’, textbooks and needs for prayer etc. Then I turned to the internet in order to be able to post and share good ideas! Well I nearly went dizzy – there was SO much stuff on there! What was good? What wasn’t good? Which ones would help point them to Jesus, enable them to share Jesus with their children through this difficult time? How could I help keep them walking with the Lord and encourage and support them through lockdown when I hadn’t got the time to have a proper look at all that was out there on the web?
Well, the NPI (the National Parenting Initiative) came to my rescue. They exist to support families in many ways and they have done the leg work for us. They trawl the internet and just post really useful, Godly, encouraging and helpful ideas for all families which I then share or forward or post accordingly. Such a great time saver and such great articles!
As time went on parents who were coping with working at home, home schooling, doing children’s church, achieving potty training success AND staying alive wanted to help other families. They realised that hard as it was for them, it was even harder for others who didn’t have internet access or a craft cupboard full of supplies. But they couldn’t go meeting other parents down at the park to give out craft stuff and printed resources. So we came up with a solution. The parents who can help print out resources, often signposted to them by the NPI, then collect excess craft supplies from their home (or even get new stuff delivered), as well as educational resources, and books and games. I collect them and then every two or three weeks, when I deliver food from the Fareshare scheme, I also give out all kinds of resources for the families that need them in our parish. The ones who give feel the Lord’s favour and those who receive are blessed! A great combination. Thank you Lord!
Sharon Blair is Associate Minister at Holy Trinity Combe Down in Bath
As we settle into these days of social distancing and lockdown, as a church we are identifying how we can continue to support and equip our church family and to reach out to the wider community. Thanks to the wonders of Zoom and other platforms we can meet from our homes. Here is one of our initiatives to support children and families who are part of Gordano Valley Church:
For the past 3 years we have had a popular ‘Teatime Hangout’ group, which has met fortnightly in homes, for children up to 11(ish!) and their families. As soon as we stopped meeting in person, we moved this group to Zoom and have been meeting weekly. The first week was chaos because the parents were trying to talk to each not giving the children a look in! The mayhem of adults talking over the children birthed ‘Parent Hangout’ which is an opportunity for parents to chat, once the children are in bed, and share the joys and frustrations of family life during lockdown.
We have had to accept that Zoom does not work for everyone. Some of our children, particularly those with additional needs, have really struggled to cope with interacting on Zoom and their parents have decided not to join in. Others are finding that they are spending too much time using screens at other times or that their new ‘norm’ means that their routine is more fluid. However, for others, both parents and children, it has been a lifeline. One 5-year-old summed up his feelings, “I just love seeing everyone!” The adults have been surprised by how emotional they have found it seeing one another albeit online.
Facilitating these online ‘hangout’ groups has reminded me of the importance to everyone, regardless of age, of being in relationship with other people because this is how God has created us.
Carol deBeger is Family Pioneer and a Core Leader of Gordano Valley Church