During lockdown in Auchterarder, “The building was closed but the Church was open!” as our local banner said. At APC we tried to live up to our mission statement “Active disciples, Praising God, Caring for people” by supporting the most vulnerable in our community during lockdown. Clearly many people were going to require help, both with practical tasks and with their wellbeing.
A group of the congregation agreed to lead the project, and at first we had to make things up as we went along! Many willing hands delivered leaflets to the whole town, giving contact numbers for help, including from our ministers. Enquiries for support started coming in. People who were shielding or self-isolating called our helplines for picking up shopping, prescriptions, or medication, walking dogs, posting mail and a few fairly random requests! Loneliness, fear and anxiety were an issue for many people, and pastoral support was provided – a wave at a window or a regular phone call just to check in for a blether.
We were blown away by people enthusiastically volunteering to carry out these tasks. In the end we had almost 70 volunteers, from both the church and the community. They followed strict protocols about hygiene and safety, with high viz jackets and hand sanitiser in great abundance! Some people also donated frozen meals which were distributed to our senior friends. Our website and Facebook page gave daily practical information about safety, local shopping services, prayers, and inspiration to keep going. And as the crisis in care homes became obvious, we had a wee extra project. APC’s Men’s Shed group provided bird tables and feeders to be placed in the care home gardens, which research shows to be therapeutic. And judging from the residents’ responses, that has proved to be true!
One call was poignant and urgent – from a young mum who had no food in the house and no money for her electricity meter. Thankfully we were able to respond immediately, but we realised that some of our community had serious financial need. At the request of several donors, APC Connect set up a fund that was able to help around 40 families with food boxes or vouchers. That fund is still ongoing, now supplemented by a generous donation from Auchterarder Community Trust.
As lockdown begins to lift, the needs of our community are changing. The Community Support project has reached a natural end, although we’re still poised for more action should a second peak arise. However, as furlough also ends and recession or unemployment become a real threat, more support will be needed. APC is currently exploring how we can make a food bank and other support a permanent feature of our community. We would love to update Lang Toon Times readers with new developments – look out for that!