In London, solidarity is still possible

During to the COVID-19 crisis in the UK, the members of Sant’Egidio in London do not forget the lonely and the most vulnerable. The Community in London is continuing its services in a new way, to avoid the spread of contagion but at the same time, to continue to be friends with everyone in need, including older and homeless people.

“We believe in physical distancing, not social distancing” said one of the volunteers “it is still possible, actually it becomes even more crucial than before, to work together to not leave anyone alone, even if physically we all take precautions to stop the contagions of this virus”.

Sant’Egidio’s main services in London have been slightly amended creatively: what was before a feast has now become a takeaway service, allowing elderly, homeless and lonely to still receive food. The takeaway service is also a window for elderly and homeless people to receive both basic hygiene suggestions on how to protect against the virus, and recommendations on where to find more information if they need medical help. Volunteers have also set up a new phone number and distributed it to the vulnerable friends so that anyone in need of food, medicines or just someone to chat to is able to call up.

Additionally, a new service has been set up called ‘Calling Home’: this service brings together young and old to have at least one conversation in a week for the remainder of the Coronavirus crisis. Many people attending and calling through have expressed their gratefulness, and other have said that they have been pleasantly surprised that the members of Sant’Egidio have found new ways to keep everyone company and still distribute food. This is because, despite supermarkets regulations and limits to avoid people stockpiling, many elderly have reported to have found empty shelves in their local grocery stores.

A donor’s spokesperson also reported to Sant’Egidio members that many organisations which were open before have now had to temporarily close. Therefore, the need to have food for the most vulnerable becomes even greater in a city as big as London.