Challenging. Devastating. Generous: Three words which I am using frequently these days!
The challenge of trying to work through the coronavirus emergency, whilst being aware of the devastation it has caused for families in the UK, and in vulnerable communities worldwide. The generosity of so many in response.
Throughout, the Global Care UK team have committed themselves to ensuring our overseas partners have all they need to navigate this challenging time. Most of the team moved home to work, some were furloughed as they couldn’t work from home and the office was kept open by a couple of staff. I can’t say we felt close during this time of scattering but there was a clear, shared commitment to our partners overseas, and to sharing their struggles with as wide an audience as possible, through social media.
As we expanded our social media presence, we were not surprised to experience push-back from those in the UK who believe we should not be supporting vulnerable communities in other countries, when there is such a great challenge in our own. The care and clarity with which our team debated these points, showed our commitment to doing all we can to help people understand the difference between the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, and in vulnerable communities elsewhere.
More recently we have been planning the reopening of one of our charity shops. It is not easy to create a Covid-secure environment. Many of our volunteers cannot return as they themselves are vulnerable. However it was wonderful to spend half a day, earlier this week, with the team at our Bulkington shop, sticking tape on floors, papering the shop with posters and discussing how the shop would operate. As I write this, the shop is due to open in a couple of days. I am both excited and concerned. Pray with me that staff and volunteers will be safe, and that customers will feel welcome and secure – and spend money to help fund our Covid-19 response.
It is difficult to hear the many stories of lives devastated worldwide. We keep trying to tell the stories here, but it must be so much harder for our overseas partners to respond to the ever-growing mountain of need. Although most of our “normal” project activities have had to be curtailed, all our partners are working hard to serve and protect the vulnerable communities with which they work. Most have been involved with the provision of food. So many within vulnerable communities live day to day. Lockdown means no work, which means no money, which means no food.
We sometimes forget how amazing our partners are. They themselves are living through a very challenging time but have managed to get permission from authorities, find food for sale, work out how to distribute food equitably and manage the monitoring and reporting of how the funds were spent. They are our heroes of this emergency.
And so, to generosity.
When we launched this appeal I thought few people would support us. There is terrible uncertainty about the future of our economy, jobs, even our pastimes. But people have been so generous! Our coronavirus appeal passed £90,000 earlier this week, the biggest response to an appeal by Global Care since the South East Asian Tsunami in 2004. That crisis affected many countries – but did not have a worldwide impact. In contrast to today, our donors then were mainly well-fed, economically secure and full of Christmas cheer when disaster struck on Boxing Day. Widespread tragedy, contrasting with a prosperous UK Christmas, prompted an enormous response, raising over £100,000 in a matter of days.
Yet this time our donors face the crisis themselves. Yet still, despite your own uncertainties, you have given. This generosity of spirit has been an enormous encouragement. To see this evidence of others sharing our sorrow at the way the pandemic is wreaking devastation in many vulnerable communities. Trusting us to steward your funds appropriately. Enabling us to make a difference to so many thousands of children’s lives. The other word I find myself saying is thank you, thank you, thank you, countless times a day, as I communicate with donors, supporters, staff and volunteers.
If you are one of the people who has given, I want to thank you for trusting us, thank you for standing with us, thank you so much for being part of this coronavirus response, which has saved so many lives.