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Street Angels
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Street Angels
UK News

Churches urged to look beyond their four walls amid hospitality sector coronavirus crisis

by Chantalle Edmunds

Churches are being urged to help the hospitality industry in their towns and cities as the sector faces the threat of redundancies and derelict properties.

On Tuesday, leaders of three of the UK's biggest cities announced they'd written to the government calling for a review of coronavirus restrictions, to avoid a collapse of the hospitality sector. 

The civic leaders and council chiefs warned if measures aren't changed, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester will face mass redundancies and 'boarded-up high streets'.

Paul Blakey, MBE, is the founder and CEO of Street Angels and Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network. While he is based in Halifax, the Street Angels and Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network run 130 different projects across the UK and beyond.

Volunteers from the networks go out on the streets and in recent months have been talking to those involved in the hospitality sector.

Paul Blakey told Premier: "We're there supporting the pubs wherever we can. Some of our teams have been offering mental health support, wellness training, telephone chats and conversations because staff and management are struggling at this time so we are there for them."

He told Premier there are mixed fortunes when it comes to the night-time economy across the country, while some high streets are deserted, in other town centres, volunteers have reported seeing revellers leaving pubs at the 10 p.m. curfew and heading to off licences and supermarkets to buy alcohol intending "to have big massive gatherings and parties on the streets".

Christians have a part to play in helping the hospitality industry near to where they live, said Blakey. He suggested there was a range of ways to do so, such as dining in restaurants and drinking in pubs, if deemed safe to do. Other suggestions included calling into local hospitality outlets, asking if there is anything to pray about and seeing if there is anything we can be supporting at a church in the town.

"I think this is a time for coming together, for partnership and working for the church, to look beyond its four walls and say how can we best be a support and a blessing to the place where we are, the place where we are trying to build community."

Paul Blakey also urged creativity: "It will look very different to how we did church this time last year."

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's defended tougher restrictions on the hospitality sector.

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