The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

CommunitySpiritLucyKempMaryGraNorfolk churches urged to back community spirit taskforce appeal 

Two Christians working in adult social care are asking churches across Norfolk to join a new taskforce called Community Spirit, helping people who have no support network with one-off jobs that will enable them to return home from hospital. Jenny Seal reports.

Mary Gray and Lucy Kemp work at the recently opened Benjamin Court Reablement Unit in Cromer.  Mary is the Social Worker and Lucy is an Occupational Therapist for the Adult Social Care Unit which provides reablement when someone has been in hospital or not managing at home. 

In their work they often come across people who have no family or support network and no one to help them with the small jobs connected to going in or coming out of hospital or temporary respite care.  Mary and Lucy have a vision to see the local church step into the gap. 

“I had the idea that it would be really good to utilise the resources of local churches,” Mary explains, “so that we could have almost like a little taskforce in each church with a nominated person, or maybe two, that adult social care could go to.” 

The Community Spirit network would simply be a database of Norfolk churches with willing volunteers happy to do one-off jobs for adult social care clients when needed. These tasks could include moving furniture, transporting a pet, getting some shopping in or fitting a key safe, for example. 
“In themselves they are just very little things. But if people don’t have relatives nearby or anyone to support them there’s no one to do it,” said Mary. “So then that can delay everything and that person’s at risk,” added Lucy.  

The pair, who admit they are ‘throwing the net out’, argue that it would bring benefits three ways – to their patients who are in need of help, to the Adult Social Care team in Norfolk which is facing enormous pressures and to churches which would have the opportunity to help and make contact with isolated people who may benefit from their ministry.  

“It would be so wonderful.  It would also be a witness to our colleagues in social care – it would show that the church is stepping up to do that stuff.  At the end of the day that is what the church is about, isn’t it?” says Mary with tears in her eyes. 

“It’s a good opportunity to show love in a very practical way and to open up that initial communication with people by doing something that needs to be done,” Lucy agrees.

The pair recognise the safeguarding and insurance issues and are taking guidance from the Community Action Network around this.  They also acknowledge that there are agencies like Age UK and Good Neighbours schemes but find it geographically patchy. 

“There are a lot of places in Norfolk where volunteer agencies might not have volunteers in that area.  But there probably is an active congregation and at the moment we can’t tap into that,” said Mary. 

If your church would be interested in joining Community Spirit, Mary and Lucy would love to hear from you. They are also happy to visit local churches to introduce themselves and expand on the need and vision. To contact them please email Lucy Kemp at lucy_a_kemp@hotmail.com
Pictured: Lucy Kemp, left, and Mary Gray

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