CEO and co-founder of Kintsugi Hope and author of five books
"People need an entire lifestyle change; to build real, supportive relationships with people willing to go the distance and be there for them throughout the journey, and this is where the amazing opportunity to connect the dots for the Church is, right here in the middle of the storm of life many are facing in our country right now and in the future. "
Patrick Regan is CEO and co-founder of Kintsugi Hope – a charity striving to make a difference to people’s mental health, including through the Allchurches Trust-funded expansion of its wellbeing groups, which are run in partnership with churches. In this blog, Patrick Regan talks about how churches can make a big difference in tackling community isolation in a post Covid-19 lockdown world; by asking the right questions, listening carefully and making connections with others striving to improve mental health and wellbeing in their area.
Churches across the UK are rightly recognising that loneliness, isolation and mental health challenges are the priority issues that their cities and communities are facing right now and in the near future, with the recent Hope Beyond research from Allchurches Trust highlighting these social issues as being front of mind in the Christian response to Covid-19.
These three key issues – all interlinked – present a unique opportunity for the Church, which is at its best when on the frontline of caring for the vulnerable and isolated. So it’s encouraging to see within the new research, that many churches are already planning and ready to respond to evolving community need with an increasing number of online services, support and social action initiatives aimed at tackling these major issues. But before leaping into action, it’s essential we do two things first - ask the right questions and connect the dots.
Why is this important? Because the statistics are alarming. There has been a 250% increase in referrals to social services and a significant increase in the severity of mental illness cases being referred for the first time, according to The Royal College of Psychiatrists. Refuge, a domestic violence charity, has had a 700% increase in website traffic! This should be a huge wake-up call to all of us.