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UK News

Churches encouraged to consider their own lockdown exit strategy

by Marcus Jones

As the UK Government continues to face calls to publish its exit strategy from lockdown, churches are being urged to consider their plans.

Steve Chalke, who heads up Oasis Church and the Oasis Charitable Trust, says the needs in our communities are going to be huge as a result of Covid-19.

Reports suggest nine million people will be furloughed during the pandemic with many concerned for the long term future of their jobs.

Demand for food banks across the country has already reached record levels.

Speaking to Premier, Chalke said: "There's a great responsibility but also a fantastic opportunity for churches and other socially-minded faith groups to step forward and begin forming an exit strategy. 

"The news every day is: has the government got an exit strategy? Well, the question is: has every church got an exit strategy? Has every Christian foundation got an exit strategy? We should be working at them hard now."

In schools and projects across the UK through Oasis, Chalke says he's already seen a spike in need, something he says is only going to get worse.

"There's going to be lots more debt, we run a debt advice counselling service, but we know that we need to step it up. 

"We know that advice is going to be around a lack of employment, we know that we're going to be giving more advice around how to claim Universal Credit. 

"I think there's going to be an increased need for food banks, clothes banks, toy banks, all of those support mechanisms for long term economic depression. And now's the time to get started. 

"My advice to churches - there are lots of funding pots out there at the moment, and our experience is big funders have slackened off on their criteria and said, 'write and tell us what you're doing and tell us what you want to do...tell us now'. So we should be thinking along those lines I think."

Through its network, Oasis is currently delivering emergency food and essentials to over 1,000 families every week who are struggling. Its kitchens are also providing 500 meals for isolated people every day.

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