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When this Corona virus first reared its ugly head more than 3 months ago our first thought were, what are we going to do? Needless to say many different ideas came out during this stressful time. Our first one was to start up a “Parish Care Group” for those extemely vulnerable  and alone. Rev. Jeff Anderson ( Team Vicar) and myself who is the Parish of Great Aycliffe’s  Authorised Pastoral Minister, sat ourselves down and going through our electoral roll we wrote down those who we knew had either no family or whose family lived a very long distance. I telephoned these people up and asked if they would like to be included in this operation. There were no refusals, so then we had to find willing people who would keep in touch with our parishioner’s. We had around 14 helper’s (some MU) for 40 people needing our service.  Our 40 helpers were given 1-2 people each, some asked for more, until we had enough to go round. It went very smoothly, all we got in touch with were very grateful for our care of them, and could not thank us enough. I had several telephone calls saying how much our care was appreciated, and how it kept them from feeling not so alone or becoming depressed. I kept checking up on our helper’s and those they were helping, just in case anyone had slipped through the net. It was surprising how much a short phone call meant to those who lived alone, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to offer this care to our church members.

About six weeks into our Lockdown I received a phone call from Kathleen  the President of our Durham Diocese. Another member of MU has been in touch with Kathleen asking if she knew anyone who would be able to help with the making of ” scrub bags.” these bags are for all members of the NHS to put their uniforms in to take home to wash, and were in very short supply for our local hospitals and care homes. Now I have to make a confession, when sewing skills were given out at birth, our good Lord just shook his head and said, I think that Pam would be better off having a different skill as sewing is not her forte! I told Kathleen this but still offered to do all I could. I rang around those MU who I thought may help but unfortunately most were vulnerable, or could not manage to do these without being shown, which was not advisable as I could not visit them. Most had no social media to get in touch, and so I carried on in my search. Kathleen had given me a phone number of a lady who lived in a small village who was collecting these for her local hospital. I rang her up and was told she was awaiting another lot of material being dropped off. I phoned Iris one of my MU members who is 93, Iris had been making these already for our local nursing homes, but still offered to make some if needed. I then put a plea out on our new Face book parish web site. This resulted in finding two ladies willing to help me out. Christine had been a MU member but had to leave as her work days collided with our meetings, but she still offered to sew some bags up. Also Lynne another church member who worked as a school secretary offered to help out as well. With me being delivery driver, and pick up and drop off person, we made about 45 bags. I used all my spare pillowcases up, and Iris sewed these up for me to take to a local care home near where I lived. Everyone was so grateful for our help with this, it was such a pity I could not get more help, but every little helps. I was so grateful to both Lynne and Christine for their help. Iris is still making these bags with any old white cotton sheets or pillow cases, it helps her knowing she is helping others.




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