Donnington church is helping to rewire the community amid coronavirus outbreak
Vicky meets... Jim McAuslan, volunteer at St George’s Church, Donnington.
• How did you get involved as a volunteer at St George’s?
I moved to Donnington five years ago and became treasurer. I have since taken on the ‘communication’ role, which has grown hugely during the coronavirus pandemic.
• Do you think this crisis has seen a swell of community spirit?
I’ve always thought there is such a thing as society, and what we are now seeing in the face of this awful virus is a realisation that for all we are individuals, we still depend on each other. A lot of the old community ‘wiring’ like clubs and pubs have gone, but the church has risen to the challenge of helping rewire Donnington.
• How is the church supporting the community at this time?
We have delivered a leaflet to every home in the parish inviting people to ask for support on practical things like shopping and dog walking, as well as a regular ‘check in’ by phone. We sought volunteers to provide that support and have been inundated. We have provided our website, Facebook page, a contact email addresses and church phone number for the use of the community and our PCC is working hard to make this all possible. What has been surprising is that we have a lot more volunteers than people wanting help, but that will surely change as the virus peaks. In the meantime many vulnerable people have told us that they have more peace of mind knowing we are there.
• St George’s is also supporting the work of the local foodbank. How does this work?
We have a history of collecting for the foodbank – during Lent and Harvest for instance – but the outbreak has shown this is no longer a ‘nice to do’ but a ‘must do’. We are acting as a depot each week (Saturdays 10am-12pm at the parish hall) so people can drop off donations such as tinned meat and veg, UHT milk, instant mash potato and toilet paper during their once-a-day exercise. We will also be on the lookout for foodbank volunteers whose existing team is depleted as the backbone of over-70s follow the NHS guidance.
• What about those who are missing the spiritual aspect and social interaction of church life?
What we are doing is our faith in action and that is spiritual; but our church and hall buildings are also important to our church life and now these have had to close. It is a real blow, especially as we approach Easter’s Holy Week. But we are nothing if not resourceful; our congregation have a shared prayer for the community which we say three times a day in our homes, a regular newsletter goes out every Sunday with thoughts, prayers and news and on Sundays we post a ‘virtual service’ on our website.
• How can people get in touch with you and St George’s?
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