As COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the UK, and lockdown is being eased, we continue to closely follow government advice. We will always respond and adapt to that advice and guidance, updating our current measures accordingly. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
Before we had to stay home
1. Prior to lockdown, when people were last permitted to come to the HelpCentres for support or as workers, we encouraged everyone to improve and maintain good hygiene and observe social distancing, and everyone should still do this at home. We provided hand gel at entrances and ensured there was plenty of soap and/or hand gel in toilets for hand washing. We displayed NHS posters in toilets and other critical places, providing guidance on sneezing and effective hand washing.
2. We ensured that the surfaces people were most likely to touch, like counter tops, door handles, handrails, light switches, etc, were cleaned regularly and thoroughly.
During lockdown, and up to 15 June
3. Prayer services at all HelpCentres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were suspended, as required by the government, to help protect our congregations and the general public from infection.
4. We broadcast online services daily to ensure our congregations and the general public had easy access to our support through prayer, inspirational stories and messages, and advice and guidance.
5. Following government rules, all planned events and group activities were cancelled, so people didn’t leave their homes and risk catching or spreading COVID-19.
6. Our offices were closed, with only a very small number of essential workers going in to produce our online services. They all observed social distancing while working.
7. We opened new soup kitchens in London and Leeds, to help communities cope with the impact of the pandemic on their finances, and have been providing food to over 300 people in need every week.
What we are doing now
8. From 15 June all full time HelpCentres in England and Northern Ireland, and in Wales from 22 June, will be open for a few hours each day for private prayer only as the government recognises the contribution churches make to wellbeing and peace of mind for many people at this challenging time.
9. Full risk assessments have been conducted for each of our HelpCentres, and mitigating measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of members of the public who wish to pray privately, and our personnel who are managing access.
10. Full time HelpCentres that are open for private prayers will follow a meticulous cleaning schedule, and strict compliance with social distancing.
11. HelpCentres in Wales will remain closed until the devolved government allows them to reopen and provides details on how that can be done safely.
12. No part time HelpCentres will reopen as they operate in third party premises where we do not have full control of health protection measures.
13. We continue broadcasting online services daily and promoting these to our followers and the general public, seeing this as the best way to serve God and humanity at this most testing of times.
14. We are working hard to increase our food supplies and feed more people from our soup kitchens in the North, South and West of London, and Leeds. People in food poverty receive weekly bags of food essentials and hot soup.
15. We are undergoing safety compliance works to our offices and will start welcoming back the workforce as soon as it is safe to do so.
16. We remain in constant e-contact with sister churches in other affected countries so as to share experience and help everyone be better prepared.
17. We are also exploring other means of spreading the word of God and supporting you all during this global crisis.