The voluntary organisations that make up the DiSAN group got together via conference call on 7th April to share how our services are adapting to the new world of social distancing, keeping in touch with staff and beneficiaries through telephone and internet.
Sir Peter Fahy, Diocesan and Caritas Trustee, reminded us that once the pandemic has passed we will have huge national debt and likely fewer resources for charitable work but certainly more need. Community Sponsorship, the support and care by the community of refugees, is a good model of how the State cannot do what the community can, nor should it. Parishes need to develop into hubs that reach out to their communities under the Caritas umbrella.
All agreed the need to make sure the vulnerable are not forgotten. We must not become remote from those we help, despite social distancing. For instance, not everyone is comfortable with the technology helping many to stay connected. Services such as SVP’s telephone befriending or Caritas St Joseph’s Welfare are vital now as those who are normally isolated are suffering more during lockdown.
Parishioner Martin Higgins put to the conference that this pandemic highlighted the need to look after the earth. The message of Laudato Si has been amplified. If we are to look after each other we must first look after the world we live in.
Solidarity must always be accompanied by subsidiarity, which recognises the importance of the family and community, and their significant contribution to giving the poor and marginalised a voice. Once the pandemic is over, merely reverting to how things were would be tragic: we must learn to build community so nobody is left behind. We hope many things will be different so we may focus on a new normal, making the poor and the earth urgent priorities.