Friday 20th March, 2020
A letter to faith leaders in Barnet
Gentlemen and Ladies
Few will know better than you the challenges faced by our communities at this time. Uncertainty, disbelief, fear, panic, misery, separation, loneliness and possibly sorrow are rife; sadly they may increase.
I expect you will view this first weekend without public acts of worship with trepidation. We all draw strength from the communities we serve. Having public contact removed may leave some of you feeling emasculated and even irrelevant. I believe nothing could be farther from the truth, and that now represents an unparalleled opportunity for faith groups to show a fresh purpose and prominence. To take the lead. To provide a shelter and a place of solice where necessary. To provide meaningful opportunities for those out of school and out of employment.
Quite how this may be implemented is for others to determine, but we all need to remain brave, and certain of the faith that binds us, and the truth that gives us confidence to do all things under the law. Knowing many of you well, I have no doubt that you are taking local measures individually.
Please remember that my thoughts are with you. I have said often that I think the role of a faith leader can be relentless, burdensome, and very lonely at times. I am sure you will support each other as well as caring for your communities.
Over the last fourteen years, I have met many of you. I have promised in public to pray for you. I have prayed for you in the past, and I assure you that my wife, Brigid and I will continue to pray for you, not least during this especially difficult period. I urge you to continue to pray for The Queen, and all the Royal Family, as well as for those in Government and authority under Her.
My family motto reminds me that all will be well: ‘Deus alit eos’, and with your continuing efforts, and those of your communities, it will be. I have been planting salad and vegetable seeds in trays to prove that better times are not far off, as well as to provide for the future. I expect you been doing much more imaginative things!
Dear Friends and specifically faith leaders of places of worship.
In these challenging times it’s to you that people of faith (and some of no faith) are looking towards for inspiration and meaning and from all we hear you are responding magnificently.
We are fully aware of your current workload so don’t wish to add unnecessary but it’s very important that we know, and our society appreciates the values we uphold and how we respond to a crisis.
So with this in mind, we are reaching out to everyone to get an understanding of what is happening on the ground and respectfully urge you to please complete the short information request and respond here . The information being collected is going to be held by barnettogether.org.uk and will not be made public.
Friends, Below is the context and reason for this request
Barnet Multi Faith Forum (BMFF) are working under the umbrella of Barnet Together, https://barnettogether.org.uk/ to coordinate a response to the current crisis.
Together we are liaising directly with the Local Authority, Public Health bodies in putting in place a Boroughwide response by establishing a Community Task Force.
We have already held very positive meetings and through our own BMFF website we hope all information will be uploaded.
Please see links below to the local response, (volunteer support information will follow).
Part of the remit will be to provide some cohesion to map the local response. This will enable us, centrally to signpost and to assist groups to continue to deliver services to our vulnerable residents during the Covid-19 outbreak
As this progresses, we will be dealing with more and more vulnerable families/residents, so it makes sense to plan ahead.
These plans are inevitably going to evolve over time, but we wanted to start by reinforcing efforts around food provision and trying to help find solutions for issues you may be experiencing or are expecting.
People will need support and faith organisations will play a huge part for so many of our residents.
We have also launched a Borough-wide Fundraising initiative through Young Barnet Foundation’s online portal, funds will be distributed by a steering group to groups on the ground, so it is important that we have your detailed information. Community Response Fund *- please share far and wide.
Hopefully, by working together, we can ensure that Barnet’s most vulnerable residents are cared for in this unprecedented situation.
Please let me know if there is further action, we can help co-ordinate in the short term and please take a moment to respond to the information request for
Thank you and we will keep you updated as to the Barnet Together response in due course.
Stay well safe and secure
Barnet Multi Faith Forum Co-chairs
Esmond Rosen & Trevor Alexander.
Amid the fear and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, faith groups bring a message of reassurance and hope.
Faith groups offer a warm and welcoming presence providing care, protection and support to all those within their community. This is an honoured, long term tradition with a focus for the sick, disabled, vulnerable and lonely. Our belief and practice of working together with other faiths, will help us move through the challenges today in the wider community to promote health, wellbeing and peace for all.
If anyone needs faith or spiritual support, they should contact their faith leader (Minister, Rabbi, Priest, Imam, etc.). If someone is not a member of a faith group but would like to be put in touch with a faith organisation they can contact BMFF at email@example.com
In this spirit of working together for all people, we would invite faith and community groups in Barnet to let us know what they are doing to support the community at this time so that we learn from each other, publicise and promote our work via a Pandemic Support webpage on the BMFF website. www.barnetmultifaithforum.org
This will also have links to Government, Barnet Council, NHS, Voluntary and Faith Organisations websites
Barnet Multi Faith Forum Co-chairs
Esmond Rosen & Trevor Alexander.
COVID-19 – move to ‘Delay’ phase
The Government moved today to the ‘Delay’ phase of its programme to tackle COVID-19.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51857856
IFN has received some queries from inter faith organisations debating whether to go ahead with planned meetings. It is vital to take into account the Government’s guidance. It remains at this time, within the parameters of that guidance, a matter of judgement for organisations whether gatherings are appropriate to hold. Considerations include such factors as size of gathering and potential vulnerability level of participants (based on what is currently known about that).
Faith community organisations and COVID-19
The NHS’s guidance remains the foundational guidance for everyone. They are updating this continually.
IFN has put up information on its website about how IFN’s member national faith community bodies are responding to Coronavirus. As will be seen from this, there is precautionary guidance being issued by a number of them. All such guidance remains subject to change and continual updating.
The page also includes links to some articles about how faith communities are responding. You can find this at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/faith-communities-and-coronavirus.
Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) briefing no. 2 for public and staff, 31.1.2020
Public Health Team, Barnet Council
Update on coronavirus outbreak
Two people from the same family have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK by this morning. They are being treated at a NHS facility. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, and UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK public from low to moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities.
At Barnet Council, we would like to reassure our residents and staff that we are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) to monitor the outbreak of Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) globally and locally and will keep updating you accordingly.
We strongly advise to seek information only from reliable sources. The situation is changing fast and further guidance is being prepared. You can access updated information from following sources:
- DHSC is updating information on daily basis at 2pm until further notice here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
- PHE has published a Q&A blog: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/
- The Foreign Office’s advice on travel to and from China is available here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china
Advice for all residents
Since there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection, the best way to do so is to avoid exposure to this virus.
At Barnet Public Health, we would recommend following usual winter season preventative measures, as they reduce the spread of other respiratory viruses as well:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Stay at home when you are sick;
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then bin the tissue. If tissue is not available, cough and sneeze in your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects such as keyboard.
For any queries and further information, contact: PublicHealth@barnet.gov.uk