Putting the ‘unity’ in community

15 DEC 2020

An Allchurches’ Hope Beyond grant is supporting a Margate Methodist church to promote social inclusion and tackle loneliness in the most challenging of times.

Union Church Margate operates a community hub in central Margate in an area of acute, long-term social deprivation. The hub offers a range of community outreach activities for the benefit of the local community and the wider Thanet District, with the most recent project focusing on supporting vulnerable adults and redressing the balance of social inequality caused by deprivation, social exclusion, physical or mental illness. 
 
An Allchurches Trust Hope Beyond grant of £3,000 is enabling the church to expand its services in light of COVID-19, as the need for support both in material ways and emotionally becomes ever more vital. The support they provide, includes:

Food and clothing support
 
Union Church has been working alongside Margate Independent Foodbank to distribute over 3,000 food parcels since it was opened three months ago. A clothing and shoe bank is running in tandem with the foodbank, so that vulnerable men, women and families can feel safe in the knowledge they will be fed and clothed during this difficult time.
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A befriending service
 
The Community Outreach Project is running a befriending service for people who are feeling particularly lonely and isolated as a result of Coronavirus. This has consisted of regular telephone calls, friendship and socially distanced walks.
 
Crystal was referred to the outreach project by the Thanet Coronavirus Assistance Group. She had been shielding throughout the pandemic, and was feeling extremely isolated, with no family support and suffering with physical and mental health issues. 

The project ensured that Crystal had someone to speak to every day, and helped her with food and housing issues. Crystal said ‘the support had given her the strength to get through each day and it felt like she had her own family now.’
 
Help for vulnerable adults

Loneliness and isolation can have a crushing impact on the lives of people affected by a disability, with research from the Jo Cox Commission showing that 50% of disabled people feel lonely on any given day, and that’s without the additional pressures of the current crisis.
 
Union Church Margate has continued to support people struggling with disabilities throughout the pandemic, including visiting vulnerable adults – in a socially distanced way. They even helped one gentleman move from residential care to his own accommodation, supporting him to start a more independent life.
 
In the run up to Christmas, Union Church has been working harder than ever to support many families who are struggling to provide presents for their children this Christmas. 
They have hosted an ongoing event where people can come in and select presents free of charge and they have been working with a local Thanet charity to arrange visits from Santa for the children, along with festive hampers.
 
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “We’re delighted that our Hope Beyond grant can help Union Church Margate to tackle isolation and loneliness in the most vulnerable and improve the lives of their community.”
 
To find out more about The Community Outreach Project, or to offer your support, email: unionprojectmargate@gmail.com.
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