We’re not all in the same boat, we’re not even all in the same storm. Read our Interim Director's view of the Covid 19 crisis.

It’s easy to assume that we are all in the same boat.  We’re all experiencing the same issues, we’re barely allowed out, we can’t visit our friends and family, we’re struggling to get a supermarket delivery slot and if we attempt the supermarkets, we’re faced with queues. But we’re not all in the same boat.  We’re not even all in the same storm.

For some of us, the storm is restrictive, it’s stopping us from our usual lives of working, socialising and enjoying our leisure time. But at the same time, it’s brought a welcome relief from our everyday. Those of us who are on 100% of our salaries but are not required to work are experiencing a rest time, a time to do those things for which we could not find the time. We’re saving money too. We’re not spending money on commuting to work, buying lunch or after work drinks or on having our work clothes dry cleaned or on meals out or on visiting the hairdresser. Yes, it is disappointing that we can’t go on holiday but those places will still be there when this is all over. This year, we finally have time to spend in the garden and have discovered the relaxation of gardening. Not so much a storm, but an April shower.

For others of us it is a storm, we are trying to juggle working at home, with home schooling the kids while queuing endlessly for groceries.  The money we’re saving on commuting to work is less than the cost of heating the house all day and feeding bored kids. We’re concerned that the kids are falling behind in the schoolwork and wonder how long it will take them to catch up.  We know we’ll get through it, but we’d just like it to be over.

For others the storm is stronger, we are low paid but now can’t work and are only receiving 80% of our wages.  We were already spending every penny we earned. The savings on commuting to work and socialising don’t cover the missing 20%.  We rarely went to restaurants anyway so there’s little saving there but now need to have the heating on all day so our fuel bills have increased. We queue for food, but the deals have disappeared and shortages mean that we have to buy the more expensive brands as our usual ones are out of stock. The food bills have also increased as the kids are at home all day and they’re always hungry. For many of us, there’s the added concern that we may not have a job to go back to. The news reports of shop chains going into liquidation and of others closing x number of branches leave us facing an uncertain future. We’re supposed to be home schooling our children but it isn’t easy.

Some of us are in the eye of the storm.  We were already on benefits so our income hasn’t changed and for most of us, our bills haven’t increased either.  Those of us who live close enough to the school can get food or vouchers to cover the gap left by the lack of free school meals. We’re struggling with the amount of queuing we have to do and the cheaper brands aren’t always available. Like everyone else, we’re not finding home schooling easy either.

For some of us, the storm is a hurricane. We are in violent relationships but now there is no respite. Worse, the attacks linked to alcohol are increasing.  We can’t escape for a day or overnight to get away from the worst outbursts. For us, staying home and staying safe is just not possible. We are not safe at home. We are not sure we will live through this. On an average week, two women are killed by their partner or ex partner with a reported 700% increase in calls to domestic violence helplines, how many more of us will be victims during the lockdown?

Where is God in all this? My church has been running online services via Facebook and YouTube on Sundays plus a daily prayer service on Facebook every weekday at midday. I’ve noticed people joining our services who I know rarely attend in person on Sundays. Now they’re frequently joining us at midday, on Sundays and for our ‘coffee time’ Zoom meeting after the Sunday service. Other churches are reporting that more people are joining for their online services than normally attend. An interesting article has been published by the Guardian which suggests that 1 in 4 people have turned to religion during this crisis. For the 18-24 age group the number is 1 in 3.

Our vicar has promised that in future, all our services will be broadcast online. Many years ago, I remember my elderly Great Aunt telling me that she loved Songs of Praise as it was the only opportunity she had to attend a church service.

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