What happens when you get a Church, a Charity, a group of businesses and organisations together? Thankfully, the answer on this occasion, has been a collaborative response to an urgent need across South Wales.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with support from Care4Humanity were able to secure funding, create partnerships, recruit over 80 volunteers, assemble and deliver over 10,000 hygiene kits to over 60 locations across South Wales in 3 weeks!
Traditionally, essential hygiene items are provided by family or friends to patients in hospital or residents of care homes. However, because access to all hospitals and care homes has been restricted to slow the spread of COVID-19, these items have been in short supply to the point that nurses and care professionals personally sought outside donations to meet the growing need.
Members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rallied around the project. They assembled packets of full-sized shower gel packs, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and more at the Church and in their homes. Below are the Rider, Huxtable and Pengilley families assembling kits in their homes.
Group organisers also created a logistics network to utilise church members and those within the community for the donation of supplies for the hygiene kits. These went to local hospitals, elderly care homes, homeless shelters, women’s refuge centres and schools. The kits along with food donations were also delivered to 25 local food banks.
In a letter of appreciation from Claire Powell, a senior nurse at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, she said, “I am sure that the staff and patients would like me to express their thanks for your very kind gesture. It has been a wonderful experience to see how the community has come together to support us in so many ways.”
The majority of funding for the project came from donations made by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint humanitarian arm, ‘Latter-day Saint Charities’. Other donations made to Care4Humanity came from Welsh businesses Roadbridge and Alan Griffiths with another generous donation from Spanish based construction giant FCC.
Care4Humanity charity played a significant role in devising and implementing the project. Deborah Barry is the Senior Humanitarian Advisor.
“The hospital staff have been so grateful for the hygiene packages as they are able to treat all of the patients equally; saving precious time of trying to find items or ask for donations from friends and family.”
In order to respond to the urgent need, local entrepreneur Paul Baker, reached out to his network and contacted the Minister for Health and Social Care, Leadership of the local health boards, facilities and private companies on behalf of the church and the project. He told us……
“We could not sit idly by and not help those that are in need at this time. We could not do it when the floods came to Rhondda Cynon Taf in February and we couldn’t do it during this pandemic. It’s been amazing to see the governmental support, collaborations, partnerships and friendships that have been forged as a result of this project.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Leader for the Cardiff Area, President Jason D Spragg said
“Collaboration with local leaders and organisations has been a crucial element of this project. This has enabled us to determine needs, adopt best working practices, identify ways in which we can ensure our donations went directly to those that needed them most, while also working in accordance with government guidelines. Without these relationships, we wouldn’t have been able to respond as promptly and efficiently as we did.”
As a result of these associations South Wales Police provided a truck to transport large quantities of provisions along with six letters of authorisation to permit drivers to travel safely around the area for the pick-up and delivery of the supplies.
Eleanor Shorland – Area Coordinator for the Church is now focusing on the next phase of the project for the Church. She told South Wales Life……
“After the last 3 weeks we have worked with many organisations who are out in the community identifying the most urgent need. Right now there are families who are struggling to put food on their tables to feed their children, so we have been doing all we can to support foodbanks. We have also learned that household cleaning items such as washing up liquid, disinfectant and washing powder are needed at this time, so we are putting a fund together to help purchase those essentials and get them to the most vulnerable people.”
Gavin Reardon who is not a member of the Church first met the team of volunteers in Pontypridd, he said
“What I’ve learned the most over my time of getting to know the volunteers is their willingness to help those that they don’t know, or may never meet, expecting nothing in return and will do that with anyone. They get up and serve and go and do and make a small difference. If we had more people with that attitude, the world would be a much better place.”
While we deal with a global pandemic, we might think there is truly little we can do during the lockdown and while having to adhere to social distancing rules.
President Jason D Spragg told us…….
“We continue to seek out opportunities to help those in need across the South Wales region and we are always in search of volunteers who would like to work alongside us or participate in projects that we are promoting. We have just recently launched a website in the UK that puts service opportunities together with volunteers, if anyone is interested please visit, JUST SERVE and set up an account”
The project continues across the region and will do so until the lockdown period ends and normal life returns.