St Swithun’s and St Clement’s, Bournemouth, St Mary’s, Andover, and Saint Mary’s, Southampton, have been awarded Government funding to continue supporting local communities through the coronavirus pandemic.
At the start of the national lockdown several churches across the Diocese of Winchester launched an emergency food and supplies bank to get essential provisions to those most in need as part of the “Love Your Neighbour” scheme, aimed at helping communities through difficult times. As part of the scheme churches also ran volunteer help-force teams to keep in phone contact with isolated people, assist with emergency errands and provide practical support to local hospitals.
At the end of September, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced the support package as part of their ‘Community Match Challenge’ funding, which is part of the Government’s £750 million charity support package. The Government will provide £4 million in funding to supplement the churches’ £6 million pledged spending for the next six months.
With further funding, St Mary’s, Andover, Saint Mary’s, Southampton, and St Swithun’s and St Clement’s, Bournemouth are able to continue these lifeline projects for their communities. Support projects will include continuing food delivery programmes to keep vulnerable members of the community out of food poverty, as well as helping people who are out of work find employment.
Reverend Tim Matthews, St Swithun’s and St Clement’s said:
“The latest government funding greatly increases our ability to help those left most in need by the Covid-19 crisis. It is a huge encouragement to the army of volunteers who have mobilised to enact their faith in Christ by helping others in need. It also strengthens our local partnerships with other churches and charities, schools, the council, and businesses as we work together to transform Bournemouth’s society.”
The Right Reverend, Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester said:
“In these difficult times I have been very pleased to see how our churches have come together to follow Jesus faithfully and show love for our neighbours. It is now more important than ever that we help the communities we serve, and I am grateful that these parishes in the Diocese of Winchester can continue to do so through this funding.”
Love Your Neighbour was launched in March this year from the Church of England parish church of Holy Trinity Brompton, London, as part of the local church response to the lockdown. The scheme, which works with over 1,000 schools and local community projects, saw 240 churches across the country and of all denominations come together to help their communities. So far, the scheme has delivered three million meals to thousands of vulnerable people and provided debt advice and employment training to those most in need.