As the world begins to adjust to its new reality, churches and places of worship are also having to make significant changes to remain safe and compliant. The ever changing landscape is a difficult challenge, even for the most robust of organisations, plunging regular bouts of uncertainty into the way we worship, do church and congregate.
There of course has been a lot of speculation about transmission and how to reduce this in church settings. GOV.UK has been very proactive in delivering comprehensive guidance for places of worship to follow and keep people safe. You can read the full guidance HERE
However, what isn’t mentioned in this guidance is research indicating the significantly greater impact covid19 has on minority communities. Some of the initial data is shocking to say the least. Here are a few examples:
The (Office for National Statistics) ONS research goes one step further than these reviews and looks at other factors, such as health and deprivation.
It concludes that:
- Black people are 1.9 times as likely to die as white people
- Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are 1.8 times as likely to die
- Indians are around 1.5 times as likely
Analysis from Public Health England (PHE) showed that once in hospital, people from BAEM (Black, Asian, Ethnic Minority) backgrounds were also more likely to require admission to an intensive care unit.
BAEM people accounted for 11% of those hospitalised with Covid-19 but over 36% of those admitted to critical care.
As a church and Christian community, we all support the notion that we are here (in part) to serve and love our communities. Our response to covid19 already reflects this belief and there are many examples of Christians being the hands and feet of Christ during this catastrophic pandemic. Food drops, vulnerable people check in’s, social supermarkets and kids meals are all active ways that Christians and our communities have stepped up in a time of crisis.
With lockdown restrictions now reducing and some gatherings being permitted, churches and places of worship are beginning to take the necessary precaution to open their doors once again. Social distancing markers, hand sanitiser and no singing are some of the things that many churches are working with in order to resume ‘service as normal’.
However, it could be argued that service as normal may not be resumed for a long time to come. For people from BAEM communities, social distancing and hand sanitiser are still not enough to reduce the significant health risks and higher mortality rates they face from covid19.
So what can we, as a Christian community do to further support and protect BAEM members and visitors to our places of worship?
- Carry out a risk assessment for BAEM staff, leaders and volunteers
- Arrange (or continue) virtual meetings whenever possible
- Consider the higher risks of travelling particularly if using public transport, and adapt meeting times to avoid busy periods
- Avoiding placing BAEM people in positions which may potentially breach social distancing measures
- BAEM communities may be worried about theirs and their families health; additional support should be offered when possible.
- Provide counselling services for BAEM groups and a service which allows sign posting to various support organisations
Unite the Union has provided clear and comprehensive guidance for employers, which is easily applicable to churches and places of worship. We want to thank Unite the Union for leading by example in the fight to safeguard minorities during this pandemic and providing a template of good practice that can be used by everyone.
For more about Unite the Union Equality information please click HERE.