The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, social isolation, financial stress and insecurity about the future, have taken a toll on mental health and emotional well-being. Rev Christa Megaw, a Deacon in the Uniting Church in Australia, invited her congregation to consider ways to support people in their neighourhood. The responses were creative, and addressed the need for community connection despite the requirement for ‘social isolation’.
After conversation with a local café owner with overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed customers, the church responded with donations to a Pay it Forward program to supply coffee to people through the café.
The teenage shop assistants who continued to work, despite the stress caused by abusive customers and the threat of COVID-19, were so appreciative to be acknowledged with the gift of boxes of chocolates provided to local supermarket staff.
School teachers and other school staff who were expected to continue to work, despite the lockdown, were experiencing stress as they tried to juggle face to face learning and the challenges of transitioning to online learning. The church gave packs of ‘Wellbeing’ cards to the teachers of four schools, to help them focus on caring for themselves, as well as their students.
The church also delivered activity kits so families could do crafts with their children at home, which were then displayed on the glass windows and doors of the church buildings.
While there was no ‘church in the building’ with the churches also in lockdown, the church found creative ways to be in the community, bringing some joy and welcome respite to those living with stress, anxiety and financial uncertainty due to the disruption brought about by COVID-19.