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/ 13 March 2020

Loving our neighbours in the midst of coronavirus

Good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene is the message of the day. Nevertheless, we are in the midst of something which is going to be a marathon, and not a sprint, so how we respond beyond the Government guides will define our communities.

We are blessed by having a church at the heart of every community and, as Christians who have been called to love our neighbours, we have the potential to work in partnership to shape our communities by love – with of course clean hands and following good respiratory hygiene! What does loving our neighbours look like in the midst of coronavirus?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Self-isolating if we develop a new and persistent cough or a temperature – this will protect those who are more vulnerable and reduce the pressure on our health service.
  • Look out for neighbours who might need to self-isolate. Could we offer help to ensure that they get the supplies that they need?
  • Look out for elderly and vulnerable congregation members in particular. Do they know where to turn ahead of time, in the event that they need support? Could we create a buddy system keeping in contact with each other by phone?
  • Look out for those fearful of coming out of their homes. Could we offer to ring for a chat?
  • Is the local food bank well-stocked? Could you donate a little extra?
  • Look out for those we know working in health and social care who will come under increased pressure.

It is now evident that our lives are going to be affected in many different ways. For those who become ill, or are having to look after others, there will be practical day-to-day implications. However, there is also the profound effect that the coming days, weeks and months will have on our mental wellbeing.

The charity Mind has put together some very helpful information for those who are unwell, self-isolating, or – and this will apply to almost everyone – those who are simply worried. Our mental wellbeing will be just as important as our physical health as we come to terms with the current situation.

So with clean hands, and clear thoughts, let us love our neighbours with open hearts.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE

About Sarah Mullally

The Rt Hon & Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally is the 133rd Bishop of London. In 2012 she was installed as Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, before becoming Bishop of Crediton in the Diocese of Exeter in 2015, primarily serving North and East Devon. She is a member of the Church of England's National Safeguarding Steering Group. Bishop Sarah was a senior civil servant in the Department of Health before ordination. A trained nurse, she became Chief Nursing Officer for England in 1999, the youngest person to be appointed to the post.

Read more from Sarah Mullally

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