Canon Simon Butler, Vicar of St Mary’s Battersea (and a trustee of KLS), is writing a weekly e-news to the Coronavirus Angels volunteers. As we’re partner in this new venture we thought we should reproduce it here as it’s full of interesting and relevant stuff!
Welcome to week three of the Coronavirus Angels project.
Once again, thank you for volunteering. As of Wednesday 8th April we now have helped our 100th person or family and we have a team of over 325 volunteers! That’s fantastic news. We’d like to especially welcome those who had volunteered for the St Mary’s Park Covid-19 Mutual Aid group to this newsletter. It’s great to have even more enthusiastic volunteers working together in solidarity for the common good. To stress, although initiated by two local churches this is not a faith-based endeavour: it’s local people, working together through our current challenges, and hopefully beyond. Together with Katherine Low Settlement, a local charity which is nearly 100 years old, we’re pooling our knowledge of our local community to a focused response, referring people onwards to other Mutual Aid groups and charities if they live outside our immediate area of work.
There’s lots of news to pass on this week. So here goes…
A Case Study
We were contacted by a school administrator in the borough about a single mum in our neighbourhood who had no food, no money and a number of hungry children to feed. Aaron, one of our coordinators, immediately got on to this. It was late in the day, right in the middle of mealtime, but the volunteer we contacted and her daughter immediately stopped what they were doing, got the shopping list and went out, delivering shopping to the doorstep in an amazingly short period. Very generously, the children’s school agreed to cover the costs of the shopping.
Fantastic News Around Funding
We’ve managed to do some amazing work on fundraising for Coronavirus Angels, thanks to the team at KLS. Using the Big Give, we’ve so far raised an amazing £12,500 for our work, which can be used to provide practical support during the emergency. This means that we can help people we discover in hardship and, importantly, be very clear to any volunteer that they can point us towards supporting people. Occasionally a volunteer is asked to shop for someone who has no money. Although, so far, we’ve reimbursed volunteers from small funds held by our churches and individual donors, we can now reimburse from a healthy fund. No volunteer should feel they have to pay for a person’s need themselves.
You can still make a donation here if you’d like.
The Bigger Picture: Developing a Befriending Response
As the lockdown continues, we are getting pretty good at the immediate response to practical needs like shopping. But it’s already clear that isolation is taking an emotional and psychological toll on some. We therefore are keen to start focusing volunteer work on befriending. Sarah Goodall from Katherine Low Settlement is going to be holding a taster webinar next Thursday morning 16th April at 10.30am. This is for any volunteer who might be interested in doing this sort of befriending work in the coming weeks and months (don’t forget a lot of people will be shielded for longer than the immediate lockdown). This webinar will include some information about basic listening skills and important issues around safeguarding and boundaries. This is open to any volunteer.
We will then be taking the opportunity of our funding stream to ensure all those who want to do befriending have a DBS check and then offering a proper training webinar on Monday 20th April at 11.00am. We are already at work identifying those who need this support in the immediate crisis, and doing our best to support them. But we will be needing a larger team of befrienders as the weeks tick by to offer support. Do join us on Thursday next week for this taster session.
We have agreed with Krystal Pharmacy in Battersea Park Road that we will deliver prescriptions for them each weekday afternoon. If you could help with that, please let us know.
Bank Holiday Weekend
Coronavirus Angels’ telephone number will be staffed over the weekend, so we will be taking referrals during that time.
Waste Not Want Not
This is a local charity delivering freshly-cooked food to local people in self-isolation or hardship. It’s currently based on the Doddington Estate at the Yvonne Carr Centre. Waste Not Want Not have been provided with a refrigerated van by Wandsworth Council to deliver their food, cooked and fresh, and are looking for a few people, with clean driving licences and who are comfortable driving a van, to deliver food on a rota basis. If you can help please text them on 07477 660692.
We have access to the Foodbank and can make referrals to them directly. If you know someone without food, please ring the Angels’ telephone number, 07394 856557.
A company called Living Truth is offering a free phone support service for those feeling stressed, worried or simply isolated. Call or text 07908 276546.
Find out about other support projects across Wandsworth
There’s also a wide range of information available on the Wandsworth Carers Alliance website (here). When we find we cannot help someone or think there’s an organisation better suited to meeting needs, we are signposting them to other agencies, or connecting them ourselves.
Take care everyone. Together we are making a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbours.
Canon Simon Butler
Vicar of St Mary’s Battersea
Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury
Member of the Archbishops’ Council
If you need a bit of help from the Angels then do call us on 07394 856 557 and email [email protected]