“I love it! Once I’ve done it I look back and I feel proud.” 

We have all had to change plans and activities because of coronavirus. How have churches who house the homeless and their tenants supported each other? 

Empowerment Worker Sharon shares one story from Hope into Action Black Country.  

His recovery programme and computer and literacy classes on hold, tenant Glen was wondering how he would navigate the pandemic 

Boredom and loneliness are not usually the start of a great story. Thanks to the love and commitment of a church volunteer this story ends with a proud tenant. 

Glenn grew up in the neighbourhood surrounding the churchyard and remembers going to the local swimming baths next to the church. He recalls when he used to look over at the churchyard and it was so overgrown. The swimming baths are now derelict. The churchyard is well kept, thanks to Glen. 

Glenn and his strimmer have become a common sight. He has had countless comments from members of the public who have stopped to talk to him as they pass through.  He doesn’t seek credit, he takes responsibility. “I’ve ripped it all out now! I’ve done well”. 

One young lad in his 20’s asked Glenn how long it had taken him. He was so impressed he told his Dad to come over and have a look. 

An elderly gentleman, who has not been over to the churchyard for a while due to cancer, was astonished at the now well-kept graves. He told Glenn that before he had become sick, he had not been able to find his parents’ graves. Now he could see them. 

On one occasion, a young lady walking through the churchyard stopped to say how good the churchyard looked. A few minutes later she returned with a snack and coca-cola for Glenn. 

Nigel lives by the churchyard and is the church volunteer co-ordinator for the house where Glenn is a tenant. He knew that Glenn enjoyed gardening and had some experience. Building on this strength, he encouraged Glenn to come and help him with his huge task of maintaining the churchyard. This was back in March as the pandemic hit. The two of them out in the fresh air together made safe voluntary work and a great way to build a relationship.  

Glenn says the day usually begins with a coffee with Nigel, and often a bacon sarnie thrown in too. Glenn has access to the shed with the equipment and when Nigel has other jobs to do Glenn just gets on, on his own. This level of trust means a lot to Glenn. He was very moved when the vicar presented him with a large ‘Thank You’ card signed by members of the congregation. Glenn says it feels great that the work he so enjoys doing is being appreciated by so many people. His days at the churchyard often end with fish and chips courtesy of Nigel and occasionally a meal cooked by one of Nigel’s neighbours. As summer drew to a close, Glenn had some time off from the churchyard. Now the leaves are falling, I expect there is a leaf blower in that shed! 

People like Glenn depend on your support to bring them together with churches like Nigel’s. You can help the church be a light in the winter coronavirus crisis by donating here