Hope in Sheffield

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Sheffield rThe Manor Church and Community Project is an ecumenical partnership of Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches in Sheffield. Simon Loveitt, Church Related Community Work (CRCW) minister with the project, shares how things are going during this period:

Since the lockdown began, all our lives have changed. All activities at our churches have stopped. I am working mostly from home, and have become very familiar with Zoom meetings, telephone conferences and social distancing, when outside the house. My shopping habits have changed, with weekly trips to the local supermarket rather than the large Sainsbury’s at Crystal Peaks. No trips to coffee shops, restaurants or trips out to the Peak District. My life has changed, and is different from my normal routine, but I still have the security of a job and a wage. However, things are very different for many of our neighbours.

The only church activity which hasn’t stopped, however, is the local Foodbank. It is providing an essential service to the community, working very closely with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, at two sites on the Manor Estate in Sheffield. It is a charity, and its Trustees represent a partnership of faith groups and local community groups working together.

The late Pat Midgley, a local councillor, who was also one of our Trustees, tragically died of Covid-19 in early March. I would like to pay tribute to her dedication to the community over the last 30 years, and for her support of the Foodbank.

Since the lockdown, the Foodbank packs generic parcels of essential groceries on a Tuesday, and distributes these on a Wednesday, with clients collecting these (or multiple of these for couples, families etc) from the front door of the church. Demand has soared. We are experiencing at least a four-fold increase for food parcels in April. This is due mainly to people having signed up to Universal Credit, awaiting their first payment.

A Covid-19 appeal for the 17 food banks in Sheffield has been launched, which, as Treasurer, I am co-ordinating. It has so far raised over £50,000 to be split equally amongst the Sheffield food banks. People have been very generous and our donations have also dramatically increased. However, we spent over £11,000 on food in April alone!

We don’t know how or when this crisis will end. But there is hope. Hope in the very generous financial support to the Foodbank. Hope in the volunteer support the Foodbank has received, particularly as many of our regular volunteers have had to self-isolate. Hope in the community pulling together. Hope in the Church playing its part in the community. Hope in the rainbows we see in many windows, and on pavements. Hope in knowing that God is with us through this crisis, and is there to guide us and to comfort us and is that hope for humanity.

The work of Manor Church and Community Project is bringing hope to Sheffield in a time of uncertainty. How are you and your church bringing hope to your community? Let us know.

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