30 March 2020

Our chaplains and their volunteers offer support to residents and staff every day, and, although currently they may not be able to there in person, they are still just a phone, or even a ‘Zoom’ call away. Read their reflection on social distancing or should we say, ‘love at a distance’.

Love at a Distance, by chaplains, Samantha Burton and Elly McKay-Smith

“I have never been more grateful for Social Media and the Internet than I have in the past 10 days. For all it has been used for spreading of fear and misinformation, it has really come into its own as a means to connect people who are distant, isolated, and anxious. In the space of a week, lives have been turned upside down and inside out all over the country, as the things we rely on, the things and people we hold dear have been cut off from us.

And yet…I have seen community groups pop up to help the most vulnerable and isolated in their patch. I have seen rainbows of hope painted on the front windows of families’ houses. I have seen churches all over the country creating live video links of worship and WhatsApp groups to pray together. I have heard of coffee shops and restaurants donating what food they can to vulnerable groups, including our own young people and frontline staff at our supported housing sites. ‘Zoom’ pilates and fitness groups and coffee chats, universities and publishers offering free online resources, teachers still teaching from their homes, Olympic medalists, musicians, choreographers, all creating free online resources to help keep people fit and healthy and creative at home. These are all examples of the community and people coming together, supporting one another in times of adversity.

We are being asked to be ‘socially distant’, but I prefer the term ‘love at a distance’ coined by a Bishop of the Anglican church in Australia. There are many more ways now open to us to show loving support to one another without sharing the same physical space. We are all anxious in these times, and all need this support now more than ever, so I encourage you now, send that text, that email, pick up the phone, whatever means you can and connect, even for a brief moment. Let us decide to show loving support (at a distance) more than ever during this time that is given us.

You are not alone. We are here for you.