Shellie Ward is the Vicar of Broadway and Wickhamford – she has put in place a number of different initiatives over the last week or so to ensure that church can continue even though people aren’t able to meet in the building. She said:

“I’d noticed that two different people from the village had started posting on social media that they’d like to help those unable to get out due to the Coronavirus. This seemed like a good idea, so I volunteered to get involved along with a few others. When we were still able to, we met in a coffee shop and organised for leaflets to be delivered locally. These included my phone number, which was already in the public domain, along with an email which we could all access.Through these leaflets, we’ve been able to reach a lot of different people and offer them support.

“The local school also contacted me this week to see how we might be able to support those children who usually receive free school meals. Through the group, we were able to arrange for local businesses to provide meals before any voucher scheme might kick in – we arranged for a budget of £3 per head so that they could all have a hot meal.

We looked into live streaming a service, but the majority of our congregations don’t really have access to the internet, so we decided instead to direct people to other services available online from churches around the Diocese. While we were still able to meet in church last week, we pulled together a short booklet, containing prayers as well as a form of morning and evening prayer which they could say themselves at home. We were able to give it out last Sunday and deliver it to anyone who wasn’t there. There are also copies in church which people can pick up.

We have developed a church email list and a WhatsApp group. The email list will be getting a weekly email with ‘musings from the vicar or the curate’ as well as more humorous articles, such as uses for the inserts in toilet rolls! It also includes the latest guidance from the Church of England and useful contacts, for example those businesses who are providing takeaway. That way people feel like we’re still in touch with them. We’ll be printing and delivering copies for those not on email.

I also facilitate the WhatsApp group for anyone who wants to join – they just need to send me their mobile number. We’re posting prayers there and supporting each other. For example, someone might choose a psalm for the day and people will read it and quote from it. Or sometimes there will be pictures of people walking their dogs! The group is now expanding to include the RC Church too.

I really love a challenge and have been amazed and delighted by how the community has pulled together. I’ve been really heartened by the goodwill that’s out there, the community has really come together. We’ve also tried to communicate as a deanery, sharing resources so we don’t repeat what each other is doing.

It’s really important for the church to be doing these things, to share light and hope in this dark times. We can show the love of God by being a listening ear and through positive action and by providing the good news that Christ will be there, no matter what.”