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Lockdown Stories: Providing for the Homeless

Southend Vineyard

We love to hear stories about how Vineyard Churches are partnering with what’s going on in their city to respond to local needs and share hope. We chatted to the team at Southend Vineyard to find out what they’d been up to!

“As the impact of Covid-19 took hold in our community of Southend on Sea, Rob Carvosso, the Project Manager for Southend Vineyard, took part in daily briefings with Southend Borough Council, to determine the intervention necessary to support the homeless in the town. We are usually involved in the quarterly homeless count and identified 116 people initially who were rough sleeping. Every person was gathered up from tents, doorways and alleyways to be placed in accommodation.

Rob was able to coordinate the provision of food to the homeless in their accommodation with other providers, so that the homeless had no need to roam the streets. This enabled them to keep to social distancing advice and minimise congregating in public spaces. The Storehouse we run kept its Community Cafe open in the initial week of the #stayathome instruction, by providing hot takeaway food but from the 23rd of March, we have been providing packed lunches to the homeless in their new accommodation.

We had a visit from the Chief Inspector Ian Hughes, and Kelly Clarke, Community Engagement Officer from Southend Borough Council, to check out our 2-metre social distancing measures and we have remained open throughout the pandemic, working 7 day weeks. 

The packed lunch given to the homeless consists of a sandwich, pack of crisps, snack, piece of cake, piece of fruit and a drink. There are currently 105 people in accommodation, which equates to 630 items of food each day, seven days per week. In the first three weeks of the social isolation instruction, we have given out 1890 individual items of food, alongside our regular foodbank service which has seen 1058 people visit us in the first three weeks of the social isolation restrictions. This equates to 5290 individual tins, packets and bags of food produce, in addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, ready meals and refreshments.

We are able to do this work because of our incredible volunteers who do what is necessary to maintain our service, and because of God’s provision. We felt God say that any produce we received should be regarded as manna from heaven. Collect what is enough for the day, give away all that you can to those in need, and He will continue to bless you as you follow this principle.

We get to see the fruit of this blessing every day!”

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