St Paul’s Community Outreach Project, Tottenham in East London supports those most vulnerable as a result of the pandemic through itsfood and care pantry as well as through online help during lockdown. Supporting families from overcrowded parts of the borough who are at high risk of Covid, the project also works to help those in isolation or with mental health issues. An online cookery club teaching children skills to make sustaining meals with food provided by the project has seen great success.
With research last week from i newspaper on the ‘great upsurge in community spirit’ during the pandemic, Near Neighbour projects offering facts about the vaccine and giving support to people across many different faiths further highlights the findings.
The One Voice Blackburn, Dispelling the Myths project, works with hard-to-reach groups in Blackburn where levels of misconception of the COVID vaccine are being dispelled through a series of videos in English, Urdu and Punjabi. The project is reaching many different faith groups, and the films have been shared with wider communities across the Blackburn area.
During lockdown one in 2020, Blackburn was under tighter restrictions than much of the country even during the summer months. Nazia Khan, health lead at the project, said: ‘We felt it was the right time to offer some real facts about the programme from the safety of the COVID jabs, to the religious clearance being provided by scholars. We have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of knowledgeable and articulate individuals coming forward to promote the vaccine to our communities.’
‘The determined efforts of religious groups working together through the Near Neighbours Surge programme, protecting those most vulnerable and hardest to reach in communities right across our society, has never been more essential,’
said The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.
‘These initiatives have created some unique moments, he added, ‘demonstrating the tangible, life-saving contribution that faith communities are able to make when working together in common cause. I hope these endeavours continue beyond the pandemic, long into the future.’
With those using St Pauls Outreach Project from the most deprived parts of the area, many also use the church’s food bank. This Near Neighbours funded project has helped hundreds of people in need of food, clothing and support. The cookery club has encouraged children and parents to be involved together, which has increased confidence and built on family relationships. The Project has seen children involved gaining more self-assurance which helps them at school.
Liz Carnelley, Director of Partnerships, Near Neighbours said:
‘We are seeing a snapshot of what the future could look like. A future that sees all faiths working together to support communities hardest to reach and hardest hit during the pandemic. This project sees us leading together, not working from afar; and for that I am truly thankful and hopeful. This ‘coming together’ is providing a space for us all to support each other – and not let the most vulnerable slip through the net, now and in the future.’
The projects are supported by Near Neighbours funded by the Ministry for Communities and Local Government and Church Urban Fund, the Church of England’s social action charity, a partnership between CUF and the Archbishops’ Council.