Manor Church & Community Project, Sheffield.
Covid-19: A changed world.

Since the lockdown – now 5 weeks in – all our lives have changed.

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, 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.

All activities at our churches have stopped.  That is apart from the local Foodbank.

It is providing an essential service to the community.  The S2 Food Poverty Network runs a Foodbank, Food Club and works very closely with the CAB.  It runs on two sites, at St. Swithun’s Church and the Salvation Army, both on the Manor Estate in Sheffield.  It is a charity and its Trustees comprise of a partnership of faith groups and local community groups.

Pat Midgley a local councillor was also one of our Trustees, who 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.

The difficulty of sourcing enough food from supermarkets to provide food parcels had become a substantial daily challenge.  Change in the supermarket rules means we could only buy three items of one kind.  That caused us massive logistical challenges.  This has now been solved by managing to purchase our food from wholesalers, rather than supermarkets.

People have been very generous and our donations have also dramatically increased.  However, we spent over £11,000 on food in April alone!

A Covid-19 appeal for the 17 food banks in Sheffield has been launched, which, as Treasurer of the S2 Food Poverty Network, I am co-ordinating.  It has so far raised over £50,000 to be split equally amongst the Sheffield food banks.

We don’t know how or when this crisis will end.  But there is hope.

  • Hope we see in the very generous financial support to the Foodbank.
  • Hope we see 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 we see in the Church playing its part in the community.
  • Hope in the rainbows we see in many windows, and on pavements, 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.

Simon Loveitt, Church Related Community Work minister, working with the Manor Church and Community Project, an ecumenical partnership of Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Churches


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