News and events Stories Combatting loneliness by loving thy neighbour Over the last few weeks of the coronavirus outbreak Father Aran Beesley, Rector of the Uffington Group of Parishes has been running a ‘kindness’ project, offering help to people in the community. Alongside Aran is his Authorised Lay Minister, Les Baillie, and a large group of volunteers who are collectively covering the villages of Uffington, Barholm with Stowe, Braceborough, Greatford, Tallington, West Deeping and Wilsthorpe which are situated close to Stamford in the south of the county. Each village is running a scheme that works for their community, and sometimes this is based around the civil parish and other community group; they run in whatever way works for them! Father Aran lives with his wife and two children and here he shares his experiences of being in ministry at this time and his kindness project. He said: “Like many members of the clergy I am still very busy but I have a different focus on ministry at this time as there are many people that need help in our communities. This is why I set up the ‘Kindness’ project to make sure that those who needed help could get it. We are all certainly getting to know the people in our villages which is a very nice benefit of the current situation. “The biggest need is help with prescriptions and combatting loneliness and we obviously offer a prayer for these vulnerable people in these difficult times. We have a great many people using our ‘friendly phone call’ service although we aren’t counting numbers, we just keep saying ‘why not phone a neighbour?’ “We have ten volunteers physically ‘on the ground’ in Uffington and many others in the surrounding villages helping others and we have assisted around 30 people over the last few weeks collecting prescriptions and getting shopping for them. We are also very busy praying and have help with these from many people from our church community who give support in other ways as well. “In line with many other churches we are open even though the building is closed and are offering an online service that allows us to pray in a different way although we are sad that we can’t gather together. Being online has definitely extended reach, which is wonderful, you need to embrace technology at a time like this and we have shared resources such as Zoom, Facebook, Facetime, email and the telephone to keep in touch with each other which is lovely. Our volunteers are all on WhatsApp so we can easily match needs with offers of help. “Another advantage of being online is that it has allowed us to use a much wider range of prayer material. So, in addition to that provided by the Church of England we have also used resources, such as Stations of the Cross from the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and also materials from friends, which adds to our sense of community.” In closing Father Aran was asked if he believed that it was often the church that filled the gaps in communities during difficult times such as this. He said: “Like many people I’ve never experienced times like these but what I have learnt is that we can find both new ways to worship and to love our neighbour. This shows both the timelessness and strength of the church and the true beauty of one of the most basic Christian principles."