Category Archives: Coronavirus

The Pain of Funerals during the Pandemic

If you had told me a year ago that our world would be affected by a great pandemic and we would be confined to our homes except for the most essential work, and then asked me what I might struggle with most, I would have guessed a few things:

  • Fear for my children (I am secretly an insanely protective mother, but I try to hide it!);
  • The pain of not seeing my grandchild (who I absolutely adore);
  • Cabin fever and not being able to do the things that stop me feeling stressed;
  • Not being able to see those I love at church face to face;
  • Not being able to worship with others, pray together, share the peace, sing together;
  • Not having Communion, a very sacred and important act for me,

I would have been wrong. There is one thing, and one thing only that has cut me to the core in terms of pain, and that is conducting funerals under the current circumstances. In particular, seeing people sitting on chairs at the crematorium, two meters away from the next person, crying with no-one to put an arm around them and console them. My heart breaks. I am forbidden, like everyone else, from offering a hug, and that is a dreadful cruelty that had never occurred to me before. It is torture to see someone in pain and not be able to offer acts of comfort. Here is a poem written by Stella about the pain of such a funeral.

My understanding is that most bereaved people have opted for something called ‘direct cremation’, a term I hadn’t heard of before, where their loved one is cremated with no ceremony preceding it. The hope is that after the lockdown is over, we will be able to have memorial services and express all that we want to and need to. I don’t know how that feels; I suspect it is like being in limbo.

I look forward to the day when we can have these memorial services, where people can cry and be comforted with hugs and words spoken softly and squeezes of the hand, where friends and relatives can be present and comfort each other in their grief.

Lesley

Note: Church of England churches are available to all people for memorial services – those who attend regular services and those who have never attended.

Funeral 2020

A poem about funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no black and yellow tape 
So they searched the office drawers
And found brown  
Which would seal parcels 
But not stick to carpet 
Scuffed, edged with dust, lines 
To keep us safe, far apart 
As we control our tears  
On chairs ranged coldly  
Ten of them 
For ten stiff soldiers 
Alert to the war 
Around us 
A war to save lives 
Tearing us apart in the face of grief and death 

Stella Wiseman

Churches prepare to reopen

As you probably know, the government has announced that church services may resume from this weekend and we have been looking carefully at how this will be possible from the beginning of August which will give us enough time to prepare.

It is not, unfortunately, simply a case of throwing open the doors and welcoming everyone in, much as we would like to. There are all sorts of issues to deal with to ensure that we keep everyone safe.

This week further information has been released by the government, the national Church of England and the Diocese of Guildford to help us plan to reopen the churches for services. 

Our plan – subject to PCC approval – is to have a service in each of the three churches on a Sunday and a mid-week service at St Mark’s from the beginning of August.

Because of the dangers of Covid-19 infection, the services will follow a simple format with no singing but with musicians playing instruments. We will not be able to share the Peace but we will be able to take Communion, though in one kind only. The Bread may be distributed in wafer form by the priest (who will have taken all the necessary hygiene precautions) but we cannot share the Wine. Everyone coming forward to receive Communion or a blessing will be guided on where to walk and stand in order to minimise the danger of passing anything on.

Everyone will have to observe strict social distancing measures – though you can sit in your household groups of course – and hygiene regulations, but we have installed hand sanitisers already and have been working hard to ensure that it will all be as safe as possible.

We are also going to continue worship online so anyone who can’t come to church on Sundays or feels unsafe doing so can still join in the worship.

We’ll keep you updated.


A Happy Birthday service for the NHS

The National Health Service is 72 years old today (July 5) so we are holding an online service to celebrate and give thanks for this life-saving institution.

The service, is a mix of music, prayer, art, videos and stories of how the NHS has helped improve health and save lives. There are contributions from Farnham Heath End School and Post19, which supports young adults with learning difficulties, from a Frimley Park Hospital nurse describing working during the COVID-19 pandemic, from people whose lives have been saved by the NHS; and there is a history of healthcare before the NHS from Father John Evans who remembers its foundation when he was a teenager in 1948.

“The NHS is a wonderful institution which is available for all UK citizens whether they are rich or poor,” says Lesley C.rawley. “It has saved the lives of many of us and made life for all of us better.

“I think that everyone has come to appreciate how special the NHS is during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have seen doctors, nurses and other NHS workers putting their own lives at risk and working round the clock to save lives. We really wanted to give thanks for everyone in the NHS and pray for God’s continued blessing of them.”

Churches reopen for private prayer

We are delighted to say that all three churches are open for private prayer on certain days.

The exact days and times that each is open are:

St John’s: Sunday 2-4pm and from July 12 all day.
Thursday all day

St George’s: Monday and Thursday, all day

St Mark’s: Tuesday and Saturday 10am-12pm

We have also installed hand sanitisers at the entrance and exit doors and everyone is asked to use these. The churches will then be shut for three days to help prevent the spread of the virus.

We are also able to hold funerals, weddings and baptisms in the churches, though numbers are limited.

Lesley commented: “We are so pleased to be able to welcome everyone back into the churches, although there are obvious time limits and other restrictions so that we can help protect people from COVID-19. Our churches are symbols of hope and stability in a troubled world and though we can pray anywhere, many of us find a sense of God and peace in church.

“Everyone is welcome to come in when we are open; people of any faith or none are free to come and enjoy the buildings.”

For further information contact the administrator, Stella, by email or by calling 07842761919.

Interfaith friendship and facemasks

We now have some cloth face masks for people in the parish, thanks to the work and generosity of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Lajna Ima’illah UK, in response to the health threat posed by Covid-19.

The churches and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which has its central mosque in Tilford, have been developing close links over the past year and we support each other where we can, so when Lajna UK contacted us last month to ask if we would like face masks we eagerly said yes. If you would like one, let us know.

“Our friends in Lajna UK have been so very generous in giving these masks to us,” says Lesley Crawley. “We are delighted to be continuing to build links with the Ahmadiyya Muslims who have a great heart for the community. We worship a loving God and follow many of the same values, in particular that of love for all people. Thank you again to our sisters from the local Lajna UK and we look forward to spending more time with you after lockdown.”

Ismat Sana, the Aldershot president of the Ahmaddiya Women’s Association, says: “Covid-19 is a new experience and we realised that there was a shortfall in PPE for those that needed it the most. Humanitarian work is massively important to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as a whole and something our Women’s Association, Lajna UK, is already passionate about, so we decided to purchase materials and make PPE as a way of assisting our hardworking local community members.”

The Aldershot branch of Lajna UK will be taking part in the Farnham Flower Festival which you will be able to find on this website over the weekend of June 27-28.

If you would like a face mask would you also be willing to video yourself catching a face mask and then throwing it on to the next person? Here Stella Wiseman is caught on camera maintaining social distancing while delivering a mask to Bob Shatwell. Video yourself and send the results to revd.alan@badshotleaandhale.org. Thanks!

The Benefits of Meeting in Person

I have heard a number of people saying how wonderful it is that life has carried on as it has, and how once this is all over (all is a long way away) we don’t need to travel as much as we can do all our meetings by Zoom (other video conferencing apps exist).

I want to challenge this. I believe that we have been able to do it so far because we are living off relationships which already exist. I know there are stories of couples dating on Zoom and then getting together, but I believe that there is a fundamental difference between meeting with someone online who you already know, and forming a new relationship in that way.

This applies to both personal relationships as well as professional ones. The personal ones are perhaps more obvious with the obvious lack of touch, but I believe the professional ones also need physical presence, at least some of the time.

For example, my daughter is returning to work next week after maternity leave, and will be working from home for the foreseeable future. She will be managing staff she has never met before, as well as those she managed before she was off. There is no doubt in her mind that the former will be much harder.

Another issue that I foresee, although one which might now be a fact of life, is the “small stuff”. Twenty years ago the company I then worked for tried out video conferencing, and it did save a significant amount of travelling. However, personally I missed the conversations that took place because I was physically with someone, conversations that weren’t worth making an effort to have, but which when we were face to face cropped up. They were the times I discovered how well our service was working – it might have been well enough not to be complained about – but there were issues which if not addressed would come back to bite us. Similarly, when visiting a site I would speak to lots of different people; video conferencing it would just be the person on the call.

So, yes, when this is over lets look to change things, but please let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater and lose the personal interaction.

The Hygiene Bank

The church is now working with The Hygiene Bank Farnham which is now using St George’s to store and sort products to go out to those in need of support.

The Hygiene Bank Farnham is part of a nationwide network of hygiene banks and its goal is to tackle hygiene poverty in our own community.
 

Miranda Morey, Farnham Area Project Coordinator for The Hygiene Bank, writes:

“We believe that feeling clean and being able to present our best selves to the world is integral to not only our physical health, but to our self-worth and well-being as individuals, and something everyone in our community deserves whatever their circumstances. 

“Sadly, research by In Kind Direct tells us that over a third of people in the UK have had to cut down on buying hygiene products, or go without these altogether, for financial reasons – the number rises to over half in 18-24 year olds. 

“Since 2018 The Hygiene Bank has grown to over 100 branches and more than 200 volunteers working across the country – branches collect, sort and redistribute donated hygiene and cleaning products via different local community organisations, to those who need them. 

“Our branch has been operating across the Farnham and Aldershot area since early 2019, and in that time we have distributed over 1 tonne of hygiene products via our 12 local partner organisations that include food banks, schools, youth groups, Citizen’s Advice Waverley, Homestart Waverley, and Waverley Family Centre.

“We collect products – everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste, to nappies and soap (these must be new and unopened).  We usually do this via public donation points across the community, e.g. in Tesco, but during the pandemic these are closed, meaning we are struggling to collect our usual donations.

“We have been overwhelmed by local community support, with people organising street collections on our behalf, or donating products via our online wishlist at www.easho.co.uk.  If you would like to find out more about us or to donate, do email us at thbfarnham@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/thehygienebankfarnham.”

Scrub Update

Yesterday we told you about Liz Larkin and her amazing 700 visors sent as personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Scrub Hub for Frimley Park Hospital and also to doctors’ surgeries.

Today here is a small update from the Scrub Hub for which many of you are busy making scrubs, masks and caps. The Scrub Hub has made more than 2,100 pieces.

Anne Young, who is co-ordinating efforts in the parish, writes:

I have been asked to pass on truly grateful thanks to all who have contributed to this amazing number of essential items and to also let you know that scrubs and scrub caps are still urgently needed, but at the moment, they have sufficient scrub bags.  if you are still sewing or have made some bags, please drop them off at my house, but if you could change from bags to caps or scrubs, it would be most appreciated.

I now have paper patterns here for both the caps and scrubs themselves, so please send me an email if you would like me to reserve one for you.  I have plenty of fabric, so please continue to help yourself to as much as you need. (I have at least double the amount still in my garage, so don’t hold back on the quantity you take away).”

Just to prove how important the work is, here is some information from Diane Andrews from Frimley Park:

  1. Each person will go through about three scrubs a day or more, as each time they change wards or patient they need a new set
  2. A delivery of 8,000 masks, such as the one they received last week, will last them a day!
  3. Not only is the hospital still dealing with Covid patents, but because of the opening up of outpatient clinics, every patient will need a mask, and for each change of patient the doctor and nurse will need to change their mask and other PPE.

A huge ‘thank-you’ to everyone. Your donations and your work are saving lives.

Picture by H. Shaw on Unsplash.

Liz’s Lockdown Labour – 700 PPE Visors for Frontline staff

Update: Liz will be talking about making the visors on BBC Radio Surrey on Saturday (June 6) at 2.45pm, and on Sunday at 7.45am.

Liz Larkin, a design and technology teacher from the parish , has spent lockdown not only teaching her pupils via the internet, but making hundreds of visors to be used as essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.

Liz, who lives in Weybourne and teaches at Farnborough Hill School, has been in the workshop at the school creating visors out of PVC and polypropylene, using a laser cutter. “I use the laser cutter for the polypropylene straps and the PVC visors are made by hand,” said Liz. “I then clip them together by hand. It takes 20 minutes to make about 12. I’ve made around 700, many of them with the help of my family too.”

The visors are then sent to places which have been making desperate pleas for PPE for frontline workers, including the Scrub Hub which is making and collecting PPE for Frimley Park Hospital.  “I’ve given around 200 to the Scrub Hub and I have sent them to doctors’ surgeries here in Farnham and further afield. For instance, I’ve sent 70 to a practice in London which a school contact told me about.”

Liz sourced the materials herself. “I raised £700 through Go Fund Me for materials and started making the visors when we went into lockdown. I’m part of a huge network of design and technology teachers across the country doing this and thousands and thousands have been made for hospitals, hospices, care homes and surgeries which are absolutely desperate for PPE. People will get in touch and say ‘we are running out, we need some now’, and we will respond.”

Liz has been doing this in her spare time while also teaching a full timetable online for her pupils at Farnborough Hill, having to rework all her plans in order to teach a practical subject at a distance without the use of all the normal equipment.

She remains unfazed however. “I could see there was a need for the visors,” she said. “People in design are always spotting a need and doing something about it.”

Meanwhile people are still making scrubs for Frimley Park Hospital. If you can help by donating material – duvet covers, pillowcases, sheets, etc, or making caps, masks and scrubs themselves, let us know. Contact Stella Wiseman for information. Patterns can be supplied. Currently the hospital has enough scrub bags but desperately needs caps, masks and scrubs.

Pictured above are Liz, Chris, Hannah and Matt Larkin with some of the visors they have made.