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 6 Update
I hope this email finds you all well. I think we are all aware of the cost that Coronavirus is bringing to our neighbours and friends: some of us have lost loved ones, colleagues or friends; others have found the lockdown a tremendous struggle in terms of motivation and mental and physical wellbeing; still others are facing financial hardship, the loss of employment and a huge amount of uncertainty for the future. It is dawning on us that the future beyond the lockdown will have as many challenges as the lockdown itself. The need for the sort of response that Coronavirus Angels represents will last long into the future.
At the same time, we are undoubtedly making a difference to many people in our neighbourhood right now. One simple story stands out from this week, when one of our telephone befrienders made contact with the person she was asked to befriend. “Never has a human voice sounded so precious,” said the man she rang. It’s amazing to think that such a simple act can mean so much.
The week has seen a steady, ongoing stream of requests for help. Our befrienders are beginning their work, contacting some of the most vulnerable and isolated among our neighbours. I have been struck by the way in which some of these people have themselves wanted to help. An elderly lady we have been helping regularly was contacted and offered a befriender. She said she didn’t but that what she most wanted to do was to become a telephone befriender herself!
Collecting unwanted food parcels: This week we’ve started to get people ringing us who have had government food parcels, but who want them to go to someone more needy than themselves. We’re now collecting these food parcels, and returning them to the Katherine Low Settlement, where they will be donated to the Kambala Residents’ Association, to use when they borrow the KLS kitchen to cook meals for people on their estate. And we continue to deliver the weekly lunches cooked by WoW Mums to sheltered accommodation.
Sandra: Sandra lives with her daughter who is in Year 9 and has struggled to get her connected to the school learning programme. Because her school is out of the Borough it has been hard to get access to wifi and to a personal computer for her daughter, Chelsea. Coronavirus Angels were able to do some research and source a tablet and a mobile phone with a hotspot that is being topped up by Chelsea’s aunt. Sandra wrote to us a few days ago. “I just wanted to say thank you again. We have set up the phone and the tablet and Chelsea is now online. It’s a lot less tense in the house now and I think we can both cope better with the lockdown.”
Thank You: Huge thanks to Year 8 families from Francis Holland School in Sloane Square who kindly donated unwanted books, puzzles and games for the Love to Learn Homework Club children. This week, with the help of two Angels we were able to send packs contain books and indoor activities to 19 children who have very little to keep them occupied in these challenging times.
So, to some specifics…
Returning to Work: The Government may well decide to slowly lift the restrictions on travel and work in the coming week or so. When that happens we are aware that some of our volunteers may not be quite so able to help, at least during working hours. We hope that many will still want to be able to assist during evenings or at the weekends, and many others will still be working from home or furloughed. But if your circumstances do change in the coming days, please email us at [email protected] and we’ll make a note of your changed availability.
Look after Your Boundaries: A gentle reminder to avoid exchanging phone numbers with those you help, if at all possible. They can always ask us to ask you to help them again if you are willing, but to avoid unhealthy dependency or unwanted attention, we encourage you to ask those we help to contact the Angels phone number in the first place. If you don’t know how to withhold your caller ID you can find information online (iPhone or Android). If you have any concern about being asked to do things you feel uncomfortable about doing or which put you or the person you’re helping at risk, please contact us on the Angels phone number again.
Battersea Befriending Network: BBN is a small local charity which provides befriending (telephone only at the moment but more often face-to-face) for people with a diagnosed mental health condition. The charity are offering us some help with befriending those who are coming to Angels with mental health challenges, but in a spirit of mutual aid we wanted to alert you to the possibility of volunteering to be one of their befrienders. There is training and professional support available, of course, but the reality is that there is always greater demand than there are volunteers to meet it. You can find out more on the BBN website here.
Looking beyond Lockdown: We are giving active thought to how we continue to build on the outpouring of volunteering that Covid-19 has provoked. We hope to have some initial thoughts next week.
And finally…Toys, Books and a Birthday! Last week we received a call from a single mum of four. Because of the current situation she has been forced to leave her job and is struggling financially and finding it difficult to occupy the children in the house all day. She also told us it was her son’s, 10th Birthday that day but there would be no presents or celebration! We were able to spring into action, wrapping a gift for the Birthday Boy and filling a big bag with books, games and activities to keep everyone happy, which we delivered to their doorstep. All this was made possible by the generosity of our supporters and our fantastic team of volunteers – thank you!
Stop Press…Funding News: As we prepared this newsletter, we heard that Battersea United Charities had agreed to give us £1,230, which equates to three months’ running costs of Coronavirus Angels – phone costs, publicity and other incidentals. This means that all the money donated so far will go directly to meeting the needs of people facing hardship or need during the pandemic. Thank you to BUC!
Keep safe and keep volunteering!
P.S. What’s next? Watch this space for an email next Monday about an invitation to participate in an exciting series of conversations about the big issues facing our community in the months, and years, ahead!
If you need a bit of help from the Angels then do call us on 07394 856 557 and email [email protected]