Statement by Rt Rev Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough and Chair of Caritas Social Action Network, 24 March 2020
Government bodies have published guidance on how we can protect each other, and especially those who are most vulnerable. I would like to address two points touching on the practice of charity. How can individuals reach out to people who are poor, vulnerable or excluded from society in some way?
Firstly, our common humanity helps us recognise that our actions, and our care for neighbours, are particularly important in the face of a pandemic. Can we be sure to contact people who are isolated, offering to shop for those who cannot manage for themselves? Are we phoning friends and neighbours to make sure that they do not feel forgotten? Caritas Social Action and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (England & Wales) have produced a simple pandemic planning template which we hope will be of use. It can be found at https://www.csan.org.uk/policy/coronavirus/
Secondly, I would encourage everyone in England and Wales to support charities and local groups serving the common good in these countries. Caritas Social Action, which I chair, is an official agency of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, dedicated to aiding the poor and isolated living in these parts of the United Kingdom. Working with local Catholic organisations, Caritas Social Action speaks up for some of the most vulnerable people in our society – including people who are homeless, sick, in prison, and families unable to make ends meet – and to represent concerns of Catholic charities to Government. During the coronavirus pandemic the need for support has increased and we are working even harder. Caritas Social Action, with many other charities serving communities in England and Wales, now faces the impacts of increased costs, fewer volunteers and a potential loss of income. Alongside reaching out to individuals, can we reach out to charities at this time, offering them whatever support we can to continue to function?
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all who have committed their time and service to charitable activities locally and nationally, and particularly to organisations in the Caritas network in England and Wales. Their dedication all year round is an example to Catholics of how we can put our faith into action and live as missionary disciples. Now more than ever we rely on charities’ staff and volunteers to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
In all this, we need to pray for our world that we may use our resources well, being generous in our concern for others. Even in such difficult times, so much good can be achieved.
+Terence P Drainey
Bishop of Middlesbrough and Chair of Caritas Social Action Network