Supporting families during lockdown in Stapleford
published on 4 Aug 2020
The Salvation Army in Stapleford is working in partnership with local primary schools to identify and meet the needs of local families during the coronavirus lockdown measures.
Captain Vicky Owen, previous leader of Stapleford Salvation Army church, regularly took assemblies and the Christian church and charity provided food and toy parcels at Christmas to families at two local primary schools.
At the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown measures, Captain Vicky asked the schools if they required any assistance. The leaders of the schools responded to say that they believed some families were struggling to feed their children during the lockdown measures. Also, these families may not necessarily be receivers of free school meals, as circumstances had changed since children were at school, with some parents being furloughed or laid-off work.
The corps moved swiftly to meet the need and started packing food parcels on 10 April. They packed 150 food parcels from early April to mid-May, the corps now pack 50 parcels a week for three schools, William Lilley Infant and Nursery School and Albany Junior School, with a third school being supported in July.
The Salvation Army Church and community centres (known as corps) are continuing to prepare for an increase in people turning to them for help as the long-term impact of the coronavirus continues. To support this emergency action, The Salvation Army has launched a fundraising campaign to help feed families and other vulnerable people, such as those experiencing homelessness, who are exposed to ‘holiday hunger’.
Captain Vicky Owen said: “The schools give out the food parcels as they know the family circumstances, so we feel they are going to people who desperately need them.
“Due to the ongoing long reach of the coronavirus crisis on jobs and family finances we know those needing help are constantly changing and we are pleased to be working so closely with local schools so that we can help provide a safety net for children during the long school holidays.”
Head teacher of William Lilley Infant and Nursery school, Sally Beardsley said: “I am completely overwhelmed by the support you (The Salvation Army) have offered the school in terms of the donated food parcels. Words cannot express how grateful our parents are; seeing them jumping around with tears in their eyes. Their heartfelt thanks to you all; this has been very much needed and having this available for those in need especially without them needing to come and ask has made a real difference”.
Early on in the pandemic The Salvation Army were seeing more people ask for help and is prepared to continue to support the community should the predicted second wave occur. A snapshot food distribution survey of UK Salvation Army corps during one week, revealed that the number of families and vulnerable people that The Salvation Army had helped with food and other necessities had increased by over 60 per cent.
Just recently, new leaders of the corps joined in July 2020 from Boston, Lincolnshire. Majors Ged and Jayne Nicoll arrived to carry on the mission of the Christian church in Stapleford. Major Ged Nicoll said: “The corps is continuing to supply the schools during the summer holidays, the corps will still distribute food parcels to families that need the support, one of the schools has also arranged for parents to pick up the parcels directly from the Salvation Army during the holidays. We would like to thank all our volunteers and those that have donated food, who have worked selflessly to help local families since April”.
 Food Distribution Survey, The Salvation Army, April 2020 (Data collected between 24 April and 5 May 2020 comparing food distribution for one week in February 2020 and that carried out during 18-24 April 2020. Results based on 389 responses producing a return of 58.5% of 665 corps that received the survey. Many more corps are providing food support than provided details for the survey.)
The Salvation Army food parcels consist of essential items such as orange juice, long-life milk, soup, cereals, pasta, pasta sauce, long grain rice, tuna, peas, carrots, baked beans, potatoes and bread.
The Salvation Army corps (church) have collected donations previously in the local community at Christmas time and sang carols in supermarkets, (Morrisons and Tesco) to collect towards their community fund. The donations were utilised to assist providing food parcels early on during the coronavirus lockdown measures.
Captain Vicky Owen moved on from the corps in the third week of July 2020.
Many other Salvation Army churches across Nottinghamshire have also responded to need in a practical way including:
- Sneinton – continued to provide food parcels and mobilised a divisional food hub that supplied Salvation Army churches across the East Midlands with food for emergency food parcels, where requested locally.
- Shirebrook, Mansfield and Newark corps have responded to local need, providing food parcels. Local leader at Mansfield, Stephen Hicks has packed 140 food parcels since the lockdown measures were introduced and delivers several food parcels each day to local vulnerable people, he has been thanked by local councillors for his services to the local community.
- Nottingham William Booth Memorial Halls church has continued to support the S.A.F.E Wednesday kitchen hot meals programme, operating from the church in the city, providing 100 hot meals at its peak demand and also preparing lunches on Thursdays to those being housed in temporary emergency accommodation and experiencing homelessness.
- Aspley church has made 300 craft bags for local children, to keep them occupied during the lockdown period.
- Nottingham Arnold church has supported its local food bank in assisting local people.
In addition, all the churches of The Salvation Army have been supporting their congregations with spiritual pastoral leadership with on-going Christian teaching and discipleship, including online worship and group meetings, facilitating prayer and study.
Each setting has responded to the need of their community uniquely, with numerous parts of support for individuals and families e.g. some have required help with shopping/collection of prescriptions and assistance for emergency utility key top-ups.