When the first lockdown hit, the parish council turned to the church for help.
Dana was given a mobile and every house in the village was leafleted with the phone number is case they needed extra support. As a school governor and being at the heart of her community, she quickly discovered which households were in extra need of help.
The church-run food bank was overwhelmed with need, as people who relied on public transport were no longer able to take the bus to get to the supermarket.
Blockley village has a small store and a partnership between the shop and the church soon blossomed. Vouchers were arranged so that those who were unable to travel, could still get the things they needed, with the help of volunteers from the congregation and the community.
The church and the village store became a focal point for the communities during the pandemic.
Dana said, “Hundreds of people walked through the church yard in Blockley every day to get to the shop – it makes advertising quite easy!”
The church led lots of campaigns to help spread cheer, including an Advent windows trail and a gingerbread hunt around the village.
Dana said, “Our faith has moved from the building to our kitchen tables, sometimes our beds…that’s where worship now happens. That has created a different feel to the community and a resonance with the idea that faith is something Sunday to Saturday… every day of the week”.
The church has also innovated in reaching out to older people. One lady who started coming to church when her husband died, had no technology at all, apart from a corded phone. The church community bought her a tablet and taught her how to use it, something they have done for several individuals in both villages.
One thing has remained evident to Dana. Now, more than ever, people have needed to feel connected, whilse forced to remain apart. Community is vital.
Find out more about how churches have been serving their communities through the pandemic in the national Church in Action 2020/21 Survey of Churches’ Community Responses to the Pandemic.
Nearly 8 in 10 churches are running or actively supporting a food bank or related provision, in some cases for the first time – and nearly 7 in 10 are offering pastoral support.
In spite of the challenges, nearly 4 in 10 churches reported that they were providing more support to their communities than before the pandemic.
The pandemic has also created opportunities for churches to partner with others: more than a quarter of church leaders said they are now working more closely with their local authority and other with local charities.