An email from Nicky Flynn, CEO of The Upper Room to John Clark, the chair of St Michael’s Charities Group, dated 5 May 2020.
Thank you for your email, it’s lovely to hear from you.
We are still closed but supporting as many of our beneficiaries remotely with benefits claims, counselling, signposting for food and many other types of support. We worked closely with the Council to help get people off the streets and into hotels and that is where many of them currently are. We supported a number of with translation support during that process. We don’t know what will happen when lockdown eases and I am meeting the Council later this week to see what their plans are and how we can best support these guys in whatever way we can. We re-purposed our services to be flexible as possible and we have had to furlough a few staff too.
Where we are now is starting to look at what returning means and how can we do it safely and within Government guidelines. I am eagerly awaiting the announcement later this week and will then start putting a plan in place. I have no idea when or how, but think it will be phased and slow. This will be challenging as we are sure the call on our meals, counselling and jobs projects will be high.
We have been hit with loss of funding through cancelled or postponed fundraising initiatives, but, as you mentioned, we have just completed our silent auction, which was well supported. Special thanks goes to Torin for his promotion of that.
We are concerned about available funding in future as there is evidence that Coronavirus is going to put a strain on funding available through grants and trusts and so we have just launched our walk a mile for The Upper Room which aims to raise unrestricted money.
The idea is to ask our supporters to help us by walking one mile and donating £5 and at the same time ask five friends to do the same. Here is a link to share and donate.
We thank St Michael’s and all in the Charities Group for their faithfulness in supporting The Upper Room. I would value your prayers in our planning and returning. That we keep people safe and offer support to those worst hit by this pandemic and try and get used to a new kind of normal.
Postscript from the St Michael’s Charities Group
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington, is a Patron of The Upper Room and recently wrote this:
“The Upper Room is dedicated to serving some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Like many charities, the financial future is challenging at a time when its services are needed more than ever. Now is the time to stretch ourselves to be as generous as we can in enabling charities like the Upper Room to keep doing what they do so well.”
Charities update – May 8th 2020: John Clark writes:
Our St Michael’s Charities – the Upper Room, WaterHarvest and West London Welcome – are all playing an important part in supporting the most vulnerable through the current crisis. All of them have had to find new ways of working and have adapted quickly to changing priorities. They are all worried about funding and are very aware that the challenges will not end when the lockdown is lifted. This week’s newsletter incudes a fascinating update from Nicky Flynn at the Upper Room, highlighting what has been achieved for the homeless during the crisis and explaining the challenges that lie ahead.
Our new charity, West London Welcome, which supports refugees and asylum seekers, is providing food for 53 households with children and 32 individuals each week, most of whom have no recourse to public funds. A significant amount of fresh food is being provided by the Felix Project, our new Book Festival charity, which collects fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold, and works with other organisations to ensure it gets to the most the most vulnerable in society. As well as food, West London Welcome has been providing children’s clothes, laptops, phone credit and cash for electricity and gas. They are paying for accommodation for homeless clients and provide a daily programme of online classes and activities.
At WaterHarvest, the main aim has been to protect their key staff and field workers in India – with their families this amounts to 1,755 people – by paying their salaries during the lockdown and until their proper programme of work can start again, which they hope will be in September. In the meantime, they have responded to a call from the Indian government by committing to funding hygiene kits which include soap and sanitation teaching to keep people healthy. We hope to set up a special Zoom presentation, including a Q&A with their India Director, Om Prakash, who has visited St Michael’s. Look out for details in next week’s Newsletter.
It is vitally important that we continue to support our St Michael’s charities in our prayers, as well as financially. If you are able to donate, please use the SMAAA charities giving page or go direct to the charities’ websites.
Finally, it is Christian Aid Week from 10 – 16 May. The Charity is very much at the front line in dealing with the COVID-19 threat in developing countries. As a church, we raise over £1000 each year in response to the Christian Aid Week appeal. The familiar red envelopes will be replaced this year by e-Envelopes, in which we are encouraged to send a personalised message to our friends. In fact, this is an opportunity to reach more people than normal and so I would urge you visit the Christian Aid Week page on their website, donate if you can, and send an e-Envelope to friends who might be interested to know more about the work of Christian Aid. If you want to link your e-Envelope collection to St Michael’s, please use the church’s reference number when prompted: OR 58030.
8 May 2020