Just a couple of months ago who could have imagined I would be writing a letter like this. The effects of the coronavirus have touched us all. In fact it’s forced so much change that it is hard to keep up, but I’ve got good news.
My foundation is still open – like an island of stability in a storm of uncertainty. Me and my team are still serving hot meals and caring for the needy every day. As a matter of fact, the economic impact of coronavirus means even more people are turning to us for help this winter.
However, we must do things differently. Many of our homeless guests suffer multiple chronic illnesses so they’re especially vulnerable. It’s not overstating the situation to say that for some of them, COVID-19 could be a death sentence. That’s the stark reality. So I’ve made sure our meals and services are provided in the safest possible way.
Indeed, it’s forced us to convert our iconic Loaves & Fishes Free Restaurant into a takeaway service. Now, guests enter at one end then proceed to the counter to get a nutritious breakfast or lunch time takeaway meal. All the while maintaining good social distancing.
At lunchtime the takeaway menu usually includes a hot meal with a piece of fruit or dessert, as well as a drink. It’s our busiest time of the day and right now it’s getting even more so as the unemployment queues grow. With your ongoing support I can keep feeding them all.
Thankfully, I’ve got more good news to share with you. Our food vans are also still providing nutritious meals to the needy. Every day they go to places like Liverpool where increasing numbers of people wait patiently for us. Also, each night our van warms up the winter cold with hot meals for the homeless who live in the city. Me and my team are also making sure everyone is safe there.
So despite the fact we’re doing things differently, we’re still very much open. To be really honest, the thought of closing never crossed my mind. Our guests rely on us. So many people have told me they simply could not cope without our services. At this time we all keenly feel this responsibility.
Over all this time I have seen how remarkably stoic our guests are. Once again their stoicism has been on show big time. With every change that’s been forced upon us the response from our needy guests has been remarkable. Many say how grateful they are. Others are comforted by the fact we’re putting their health first. It eases their anxiety.
But for me the hardest part is that I can’t give them a hug to make them feel better. Now kisses are blown in the wind and knowing looks exchanged. It’s a very humbling experience.
We are having to adapt, be nimble and flexible to deal with this harsh new reality. That means we are rising to the challenge as more and more people find themselves in desperate need. We’re using our food vans in new and innovative ways to deliver more meals. We’re getting our food parcels to families who once would never have needed them. While our healthcare team are managing a whole new level of need.
Over the last 40 years my commitment to the poor, homeless, needy and lonely has never wavered. The coronavirus will not change that. Indeed, the loving compassion I’ve always strived for is more important today than ever. That is because every human being matters.
I know that you must be concerned about the future, but I ask you to spare a thought for those whose present situation is already desperate. That’s why I’m asking you to make one of the most important donations you will ever give. If you donate now, me and my team can give all those needy people more than just a meal, we can give them hope.