Update to Church Leaders on key needs across the city
in the context of the Covid-19 crisis
Update posted: 10/05/2020
Response to COVID-19: food poverty
The demand is continuing to rise across the foodbank network, and other projects offering support to those in need. Everyone recognises that as we come out of lockdown, and the impact of huge numbers of people facing post-furlough redundancy becomes evident, the increase in demand is likely to be huge. As in Joseph’s time we therefore need to build resilience into the food supply / distribution system and it remains vital that we continue to encourage churches and Christians across the city to be generous and to give to the Churches City Fund. If you have yet to share this across your own network / congregation I would urge you to do so please. I’m sure you will recall the link: https://www.churchescityfund.org/
Thanks again for sharing the journey during this time of crisis – serving the city together in unity, as we seek to build Bristol as a City of Hope
God bless Andy Street
Update posted: 10/05/2020
1. Response to COVID-19
The Bristol Noise website: https://www.thenoise.org.uk/bristolchurchresponse
. The specific page setting out ways to support your local community is very helpful indeed: https://www.thenoise.org.uk/supportinglocalcommunity
Update posted: 25/04/2020
There remain two key issues that we have been focusing on for the last few weeks.
Firstly, the growing need with regards to food poverty across the city. By way of background the Mayor’s weekly blog this week focused on the issue: https://thebristolmayor.com/ . The response to the call for financial support to supply food to the networks of foodbanks across the city has been great, but much more support is needed. This week the first financial contribution from the Churches City Fund was distributed across the network, and is already making a real difference. But we need to keep this going into the coming weeks and months. PLEASE therefore get the message out across the church networks and encourage people to support this vitally important need, the link is as follows: https://www.churchescityfund.org/ . This remains a KEY priority.
Thank you so much for your help in raising the need for foster carers in Bristol. The Head of Service has said to us that it is largely thanks to Home for Good/churches in Bristol that the campaign has been a success
Secondly, Clare gave us a really helpful update with regard to foster carers, and this is summarised below:
Two weeks ago we launched an emergency crowdfunder to raise £25,000 to help find the foster carers urgently needed in this season, and to support families at this difficult time. If your church would like to contribute please go to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/homeforgood
Every time a child comes into care it is an emergency for that child
48 fostering enquiries
14 households in assessment, some nearing end of training
42% of the assessments that BCC are undertaking have come from the Home for Good/churches campaign
, so we are particularly grateful that a number of the Christians who are exploring fostering in Bristol are thinking that this is a way of considering fostering as something that their household does even beyond the current situation. As we have previously share with you, before this current crisis Bristol was already looking for about 70 new foster carers for the city and this will continue to be a need so we are incredibly grateful that you are sharing this need with your churches.
Thank you for helping us to share the message that God is, “ A father to the fatherless,” who “sets the lonely in families,” (Psalm 685-6) and that together we can find a home for good for every child who needs one. https://www.homeforgood.org.uk/bristol-response
Update posted: 18/04/2020
As we come to the end of week 4 of ‘lockdown’ it seems that life as ‘normal’ is a bit of a distant memory!
We would remind you of two key ‘asks’ at this time:
Finally, Dan Green (Bridges for Communities / Severn Vineyard) joined us on Thursday and gave a really helpful update on work with refugees and asylum seekers – he’s provided the following as a summary:
The URGENT need to provide direct financial support to ensure there is a sustainable supply of food for the network of Foodbanks across the city. PLEASE CONTINUE TO MAKE YOUR CONGREGATIONS AWARE OF THIS AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO DONATE. If you’re able to contribute as a church too that would be wonderful. The link is as follows: https://www.churchescityfund.org/ . Demand is growing by the day (in most Foodbanks demand has tripled in the last 2-3 weeks), and we need to ensure that there is sufficient food available to meet that demand – PLEASE do make this a priority.
Secondly, the urgent call for more people / couples to come forward to be considered for emergency fostering. Clare Walker provided an update on Thursday, and there are have now been over 40 enquiries from the church community, and a number are now going through the final stages of being referred. This is an amazing response, but the need is still very much there, so do please continue to keep talking about this in your churches, and keep asking members of your churches to consider if they can keep a child safe. The link for more information is as follows: https://www.homeforgood.org.uk/bristol-response
The coronavirus restrictions mean that refugees and asylum seekers may be more isolated and vulnerable than normal, with less access to the services and connections that they have come to depend on. This is a key opportunity for us to show love to ‘the foreigner living among us’ (Lev 19:34).
The daily hot meals available at drop ins have had to stop. Borderlands does a hot meal delivery once a week, and Aid Box Community have stepped up to deliver food packs and emergency items. The key needs for donations are currently toiletries and washing powder, and you could contact www.aidboxcommunity.co.uk
Hardship payments are available to asylum seekers through 5 organisations. If a church wanted to make a donation towards these, the best place would be to Bristol Refugee Rights.
There is a need for hosts who have a spare room to help accommodate asylum seekers (adults) who are destitute or who have not received NAS accommodation. Please contact Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) if you have people who may be interested in helping in this way.
Social contact is a real need for people who are isolated at this time. Volunteers can help by giving people a call and signposting people when they need practical help – contact Aid Box Community about their Connections programme or Bridges for Communities about b.friend. City of Sanctuary have also launched an appeal for unlocked smart phones (2nd hand) so that people can have contact with family and loved ones, and would welcome donations to that.
Many thanks again to you all
Update posted: 06/04/2020
There’s an extraordinary opportunity at the moment to share the good news to a hurting and fearful nation, and that’s true across the globe. Part of that process of speaking into people’s lives is to serve in practical ways – for example, to feed the hungry (Isaiah uses the phrase ‘to spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed’), and to care for the weak and the fatherless - and in so doing to provide the context for sharing the good news. It’s in that context there are two key ‘asks’, which provide the church community across the city the opportunity to be joined up and strategic in meeting need:
Other useful links, including a platform for volunteering, are as follows:
Update posted: 28/03/2020
Firstly, the call for more people / couples to come forward to be considered for emergency fostering (see the link on the Bristol Noise website below, and a related film from Krish Kandiah). The link to the Home for Good Bristol Response ‘ask’ is as follows: https://www.homeforgood.org.uk/bristol-response . Over 20 people / couples have already come forward in response to this call, which is amazing, and the first introductory session has been hosted jointly with Bristol City Council; a good number have been taken through to the next stage. BUT, the need is much greater than this, therefore please give this some prayerful consideration and share the ‘ask’ with others. IT REALLY IS AN URGENT NEED.
Secondly, the need to provide direct financial support to ensure there is a sustainable supply of food for the network of Foodbanks across the city. Many churches provide support direct to Foodbanks, which is great, but the URGENT need now is to provide direct funding to be able to purchase food to augment the supply of food from FareShare, and other direct donations. The Bristol Churches City Fund is therefore partnering with Bristol Noise and Christian Action Bristol to raise funds for what is becoming a critical need across the city. This will enable some economies of scale to be achieved in buying food for the foodbank network and will support the effort to get food to where it is most urgently needed. PLEASE THEREFORE DONATE IF YOU CAN. The link is as follows: https://www.churchescityfund.org/
It’s fair to say that it’s been a challenging week, but the level of kindness and generosity that we’ve seen in recent days has blown us away – across the city, Christian, other faiths and none. Even with so many people under such huge pressure there always seems to be time for people to be thoughtful and loving in the way they respond in emails, on Zoom calls etc. The pressures are huge, but something is happening at the moment, and things are changing. In the context of human tragedy God is at work in a remarkable way. This morning I (Andy) received the following link from Rosie Hopley, she’d copied it in to all of the Trustees of Beloved. It’s a piece from Krish Kandiah, who was on the call last week. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to read it:
The bit that deeply touched me was this:
Jesus’ life of love is not a self-preserving love. It is not a hands-off-for-fear-of-getting-hurt love. It is not a passive love. It is not a love that refuses to deeply invest in relationship. What we see in Christ is sacrificial love. Merciful love. Love that values the well-being of others above itself. Love that will generously and fully pour itself out, whatever the cost, in order that the beloved might benefit, flourish, and thrive.
Here those taking a lead on different responses from the church across the city:
Food poverty / insecurity, and the emerging response (Andy / Maurice / Stewart)
Fostering – Home for Good (Clare)
Volunteering (Rachel/Stewart from Bristol Noise)
The following links may also be helpful:
Note that Bristol Noise and Christian Action Bristol (CAB) are now working together in a completely coordinated way. Bristol Noise will continue to coordinate incoming offers of volunteering requirements and volunteering asks via the page above, and CAB will seek to gather outgoing news, information, campaign requests etc
Blessings on your day
Church, Compassion & the Coronavirus: Bristol Churches response to COVID-19
We are all very aware of the emerging situation with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19), which is of course changing on a daily, if not hourly basis. This is a time for us as a church community, along with others across the city, to show a spirit of generosity and kindness.
There is also work underway at a city level to shape up strategic, collaborative approach to responding to need at this time.
With the likelihood of schools, Children’s Centres and community centres / organisations closing in the coming days there will be significant numbers of people that are at risk of becoming isolated and increasingly vulnerable.
Feeding Bristol, FareShare, the network of Foodbanks, Bristol Noise and others are working closely with the Council and other agencies to better understand the likely extent of the need. Measures are being put in place to secure supplies of food for the work of Foodbanks, FareShare and others to ensure they are able to sustain support to the vulnerable.
Offers of volunteers are increasing, which is wonderful. As you can imagine, there are lots of moving parts in all of this, not least of which is the whole issue of storing, handling and then delivering food to those that need it across the city.
All agencies involved would value your prayers for wisdom and for energy as plans are shaped.
On a practical, immediate level
This is a time when we need to come together as a city and as a nation, and the church has a vital role to play in all of this.