Posted by Will on 7th March 2022
Back in January, we were still battling the effects of the pandemic as a nation, the news was consistent in mentioning our health service, and how much strain the staff were (and no doubt still are) under.
It's not something you really see/ feel until you actually have to go and use the wonderful NHS, which I did recently.
After having to use my EpiPen, I was advised to go to A&E where I sat waiting to see someone for a number of hours. It was more than enough time to observe and really experience the message the news was portraying.
There simply wasn't enough staff due to keep on top of things. This could have been due to staff sickness, COVID increasing numbers of people needing attention, I'm not totally sure but it was evident that the teams were under a lot of pressure. The doctors and nurses working that night were running around doing all they could and despite their amazing efforts, it just didn't seem enough to keep up.
When I got home and finally slept, I woke up the next day and wanted to do something. A number of ideas came to mind, and having spoken to some health professional friends all in a similar position, I felt convicted to act to show my gratitude and some encouragement towards these hardworking people.
I told a friend from Church in passing, who suggested I speak to Will Munton (our Missional Social Action Lead) about my emerging vision. I reached out to Will and explained that I'm someone who is very passionate, excitable and a big picture thinker but I also can doubt my ideas and struggle to structure them. We discussed ideas, chatted through some potential initiatives, and talked through a social action framework together. This gave me some confidence to ask my community group for some ideas too (I was certainly going to need their help!) .
I really did start to understand why Jesus sent the disciples out in twos! Having a community around you is so helpful to share ideas and creativity. It was helpful to have a plan to steer us back on track when veering off task. It was also helpful to have someone to remind me of the steps and empower me to take action, to have a sounding board, to have someone to help me refine my idea.
My community group all gathered around the vision to bless teams of the NHS. It was incredible and amazing to witness. People kindly volunteered to write cards, buy chocolates and bake homemade cakes. How beautiful when the people of God, The Church, mobilise. There is nothing more beautiful.
When you're burnt out, you have very little extra capacity. In the words of Natalie Grant, "A little love... in this time of darkness, it'll be what makes us different, it'll be what makes us human." Natalie Grant, human. As Jack said during a preach a few weeks ago, "we follow a suffering saviour." Jesus loves our NHS.
Every little hurdle we found, my amazing community group helped us jump over. They were thoughtful, tenacious and compassionate. People did what they personally had capacity for; some had used time, some resources, some prayed, some encouraged but every single person contributed.
Learning that there were two teams connected to our community group, made the project exciting but a little daunting when we learnt one team alone had 93 individuals! But we tweaked our plans to make them work, and our wonderful group jumped into action.
Boxes of chocolates were gathered, cards handwritten with love, daffodils gathered from the florist and the most delicious rocky road baked and carefully placed in decorative bags with love hearts adorned... The plan was coming together!
To think that over 100 people in our local area were about to start their week with a gesture of kindness and generosity was really exciting.The group blessed close to 120 people from the NHS; a team of mental health professionals and a team of community nurses.
Our gesture didn't solve the staffing issues at the NHS, but who knows what seeds were planted from a gesture of kindness from our church - God does!
I encourage you to look and see who God is putting in your path. Where do you see a need?
If you have an idea, or feel God is prompting you to take action, Will and others can support you, help your planning and get some social action going with you!
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