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!
Coronavirus Angels: Week 5 Update
I hope that you are continuing to manage life during this lockdown. Please remember that Coronavirus Angels exists to help each one of us as much as it does anyone else in the community. Aaron Kennedy and I were talking this morning about two words that, taken together, express what this work is about. One of those words is compassion, as we are moved to reach out with human concern for those in need of particular help. The other is solidarity, as we stand together to face the challenges of the pandemic. Taken separately, compassion can easily become paternalistic, and solidarity can become a slogan, but compassion and solidarity aligned makes for a powerful way of responding.
Quantity and Quality: We’ve responded to over 200 requests for help in the month since the lockdown began and we now have 375 volunteers. Earlier this week we had a training session for 20 people who want to act as telephone befrienders and the team of coordinators is now one of ten.
A few stories from the past week:
- We’ve formed a great link with Dons Local Action Group, a charitable arm of AFC Wimbledon who are delivering food parcels, often on the same day, to people in urgent need of food.
- Sue and Hallam, two of our volunteers, helped an 95-year old lady, who is an avid reader, with a supply of books, using their contacts in the literary world.
- James, aged 83, has had his mobile banking set up, had his telephone sorted, his prescriptions collected and had help with food deliveries – all by one volunteer!
- A local 93 year old celebrates his birthday on St George’s Day. Sarah, one of our volunteers, has baked him a cake, and David, another volunteer, has bought him some whisky on behalf of his family who can’t see him on the day. We wish him a very happy birthday.
Ongoing Support to People: We’re hearing great things about people who have formed ongoing relationships of support from having been asked to take on a task as a Coronavirus Angel. That is really encouraging to hear. It would be extremely helpful to us if you could let us know if you’re doing that, so that we can tell the difference between people who are receiving some ongoing support from us and those who might need some additional help. Just email [email protected] to let us know.
Telephone Befriending: The team of befrienders are now ready to go, having had some training on safeguarding and boundaries. If you have helped someone as an Angel and think they might value some telephone befriending, or know someone in your neighbourhood who might, please email [email protected]
Leafleting: We’d like some further help with leafleting the Somerset Estate a second time. Please let us know if you can.
The Long Haul?: The coordinating team of Coronavirus Angels – people from Katherine Low Settlement, Sacred Heart RC Church Battersea, St Mary’s Battersea and The Battersea Society – meet every Tuesday to discuss progress. We’re inevitably asking ourselves the question of how long this response needs to continue. The obvious answer is ‘as long as the Coronavirus Crisis lasts’ but that is already causing us to ponder whether something longer term should be explored, as so many people are saying that we must not simply return to the ‘old normal’ again. We’ve got no answers to this question, but please be aware that we are thinking of ways in which those who have come forward to volunteer can find ways of contributing to a discussion.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. We’ve some way to go yet, but with compassion and solidarity we shall do our very best to support anyone in need during these difficult days.
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]