A senior Catholic bishop has called for individuals to reach out to the poor, vulnerable and excluded. He also urged those who are able to help the charities at the front line, themselves now facing a shortage of volunteers and loss of income.
Bishop Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesborough and chair of Caritas Social Action Network, says in a statement: "These are difficult times, as the whole world is confronted by the coronavirus pandemic."
Referring to government guidance on how people can protect each other, especially those who are most vulnerable, he said: "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?"
He said Caritas Social Action and the Society of St Vincent de Paul have produced a simple pandemic planning template to assist those able to help. SVP is working in the UK, US and elsewhere to do its best to ensure space is repurposed and help still delivered to the homeless in particular, in spite of national lockdowns.
Bishop Drainey continued: "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 these charitable bodies 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?"
The dedication of these charities all year round is an example to Catholics of how we can put 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," he said. "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."