One of the positive things to come out of this pandemic is a new-found sense of community and a greater appreciation of our front line and key workers, including care home staff workers. Teddington Parish has been providing support to the residents and staff of the borough's care homes in a variety of ways.

Year 6 pupils and staff from St Mary’s and St Peter’s School helped produce happy messages, drawings, paintings, jokes, poems and cards for residents and workers at the Homemead Care Home on Park Road. The children produced 40 pieces of excellent, cheery work and received much gratitude from the care home; such was the quality of their work that photographs of it are also now being used by the church in online services.

Tina English, the director of the charity Embracing Age, wrote to churches in the borough asking whether they would provide funds for goodie bags that she was preparing for each care home staff worker in the borough – 850 in total. Embracing Age is a charity set up by Tina whose mission statement is “Every older person in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames will feel valued by and connected with their community, and be able to face the future with hope.”

Our church sent a cheque for £200 and that could have been an end to it. However, as we know Tina, we asked whether she needed any further help. She came back asking whether people would be willing to write a few thank you cards to put in the goodie bags. A request tentatively went out to the Morning Prayer WhatsApp group, some members of our PCC and the Church Care Team amongst others. Within 2 hours of sending out the request there were already cards coming through our letter box, and they just kept coming. Within a week we had 440 cards. We have now collected more than 500 cards – with more promised! Some people wrote two cards, others 10 and some more than 50. A couple of people from the Care Team wrote over 100 cards each – an amazing achievement!

The goodie bags themselves contained hand cream, lip balm, chocolate, biscuits, a scented candle in a holder, a hand written thank you note, and a postcard with the “Footprints” poem on the front and a note on the back explaining that the bags were sponsored by churches across the Borough of Richmond, who were praying for them.

Embracing Age raised £2,475 from donations from churches and individuals within those churches and has about £30 left over which will be put towards PPE for care home staff. The following email from a carer summed up the staff's appreciation: “Thank you so much for your thoughtful, caring gift. It is perfect - Vaseline for the dry lips after a shift wearing a mask, hand and nail cream for the hands that are repeatedly washed and the sweet treats, always appreciated. I lit the scented candle last night and relaxed. Your prayers and the message card mean so much. Bless
you all and thank you.”