Coronavirus: Telford churches launch helpline for residents as worship moves online
Churches in Telford have set up a new support helpline for struggling residents in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ministry teams were already working in partnership in support of a successful food bank and joint worship events before the global pandemic struck. Now they are mobilising to boost the services on offer to isolated and vulnerable residents.
Congregations - mainly from the area's Baptist, Church of England and Methodist churches - are pooling resources in an effort to lift the borough's spirits and are even sharing Sunday worship online.
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They have praised generous residents and faith groups for pulling together to show care in the community following an increase in donations to the Dawley Foodbank operated by Dawley Christian Centre & Methodist Church.
Reverend Tim Storey, the Rector of Dawley, and Central Telford Parish said the situation on the ground was at first chaotic, but since the weekend churches leaders have put in motion a programme to tackle it.
"Firstly, we have the food bank which is already running," said Rev Storey.
"Secondly, we have set up this helpline on 01952 505108 or residents can email us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharon is acting as our information point and is providing a listening ear for those who need someone to chat to.
"We are working together in a network and will do all we can to help and show God in the community. We want to show love to the the community which will in turn to enable people to show love to each other.
"This seems to have clicked in the way people are responding to the needs of the community.
"We have had a close working relationship over the years and this is now coming to the fore. We have been gobsmacked by the support that we have had, including from other faiths, including the Sikhs who have delivered food supplies.
"The response has been wonderful to see.
"My honest feeling is that while are some people who do not understand how serious the problem is or are only thinking about themselves, there are others who are doing things at considerable risk to themselves which is heart warming," he added.
In addition to the food bank and helpline, the participating churches will be worshipping together online on Sundays for the foreseeable future at 10.30am via facebook.com/dawleybaptistchurch
All residents are welcome to join in and the gatherings will be led by different denominations on a rota basis from the homes of the leaders.
"There is an awful lot of making it up as we go along," added Rev Storey.
"We have sense that this is providing new opportunities and we are praying for everyone at this time, including our NHS workers."
Other leaders involved in the operation include Sharon Hanson, Deacon Julie Moreton, Mark Bestwick, the Rev Ian Olliver, the Rev Chris Densham and Tom Bowring.
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