Christians are being urged to think before they rush to form a support bubble, and remember church members who may not have immediate family to meet up with.
The Government’s new support bubble policy came into force this weekend and allows adults who live alone to connect with one other household and see them without social distancing measures. They can stay overnight and act as if they are the same household.
The household of choice cannot be switched though. The measure would apply to a couple who live separately, for instance, or an adult who lives alone and wants to see their children and grandchildren from the same household.
It also applies to single parents if their children are below 18.
The charity Faith Action, which works with Government and faith communities (such as on the re-opening of churches), welcomed the proposal.
Jeremy Simmons, policy and programme officer at Faith Action, said: “I think it's an acknowledgement by the Government of the issue of loneliness” adding that there were already 9 million people who said they often or always felt lonely.
“It's a real opportunity for churches to think about how they can be supporting some of those more vulnerable members of their community. We know that the church community is made up of families of all shapes and sizes, including many single people that live alone, single parents and others. I think it's an exciting opportunity really to see how that can be responded to.”
Simmons urged Christians not to rush into forming a support bubble: “I think we naturally think of our immediate family – it’s perhaps a prompt to think of people that may be outside your circle of immediate family but could also be in need of this support, perhaps the challenge to think a bit wider. Obviously, there will need to be a lot of thought put into it because we know that once bubbles have been formed, they can't be changed or adjusted. So, it won't be something that people can do quickly, there might need to be some thought around it. But I think there are definitely opportunities there.”