The hardest part for me has been the pain and sense of guilt of not being allowed to be alongside the dying and the bereaved.
I’ve found it really tough being isolated at home with nowhere to go during the day. I miss learning from other mums and getting support.
Counting the human cost of the pandemic – what’s your story?
The human cost of the coronavirus pandemic on people and communities across the country is being assessed in a far-reaching survey to help Government and church leaders plan for further lockdowns and restrictions.
To take this quick survey, just click the button below.
The national lockdown in March saw all churches having to close immediately bringing to a halt a huge range of community, social and mental health support activities: dementia groups, baby and toddler clubs, keep fit, crafts, support groups for the elderly, those living alone, Alcoholics Anonymous, nurseries, debt counselling services, help with finding work and homelessness.
The restrictions on funerals have also meant that many have been unable to grieve properly or seek comfort from the church in the usual way.
The survey, ‘Where do we go from here? Churches, communities & buildings during COVID and beyond’ wants to hear from everyone whose lives have been affected by the closure of church buildings including all those who only used the building for social or community use and support, as well as those of all faiths and none.
Dr Dee Dyas, Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, which is leading the project, said:
“Church buildings and the activities they host offer a lifeline to many and provide an invisible infrastructure of care, support and socialisation for communities across the whole country.
“They support people of all faiths and none in their mental and physical health and well-being, and in times of crisis they offer safe places of comfort and hope to everyone.
“And much of this disappeared overnight and despite all the efforts churches have made to support their communities, the loss has been enormous.
“Early evidence is showing that this is hurting people, this is hurting communities. Social isolation, mental ill health and loneliness have gone off the scale and the cost is huge, not just to individuals but to the social and economic fabric of our nation. There is evidence of a “tsunami of unresolved grief” building.
“This is not an academic study, this is about the human cost of this pandemic. Too high a price has already been paid by many, and we hope the results of this survey will make a difference in prioritising care for all people as we go forward into an unknown future,’ she added.
Over 2,000 people have already taken the survey, like these two mums who used to access a baby and toddler groups housed in church buildings:
I’m on maternity leave this year with my first baby. I’ve found it really tough being isolated at home with nowhere to go during the day. I miss learning from other mums and getting support.
Children’s groups are the only time I get out the house for my kids to play with others and enjoy themselves and make friends.
Or another respondent: I need to have a peaceful/safe space as I have been going through depression so I needed it
Or the vicar of a church who responded:
“The hardest part for me has been the pain and sense of guilt of not being allowed to be alongside the dying and the bereaved”
The project which runs until 7 October uses online surveys, interviews and virtual workshops to gather data from people of all faiths and none in communities across the country as well as asking for testimony from clergy, lay leaders, and community leaders. Fourteen Church of England cathedrals and parish churches are also undertaking site-specific surveys to add to the overall data.
The results will be submitted to the Government and the Church of England Recovery Group to evidence grass roots needs and priorities, to illustrate the role churches and religious buildings play in the life and wellbeing of communities across the country, and help ensure their sustainability in the event of future lockdowns and further restrictions.
It is funded by the Association of English Cathedrals, Historic England, the Laing Family Trusts and York University and supported by the National Churches Trust, Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, and the Church of England Church Buildings Division.
We would really appreciate your input to this important survey, here’s that link again.