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Omicron restrictions spark churches' concern for mental health

Author: Hazel Southam, 16 December 2021

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As the Omicron variant sweeps across the UK, churches are worried about the mental health impact of potentially increasing Covid restrictions.

A survey carried out by Bible Society on behalf of Ecclesiastical Insurance found that over a quarter of churches (27 per cent) are concerned about the impact of another lockdown on their local community.

A third said that they were worried about the mental health impact on individuals of another lost Christmas, separated from family and friends.

A quarter of churches say that they have stepped up to support the most vulnerable members of their communities, including running food banks, offering financial advice and providing homeless services.

Despite scaling up their community support, more than half of churches surveyed (52 per cent) said that they had seen a marked drop in the number of people volunteering this year, leading to the cancellation of some events.

The survey found that most churches were still preparing to open their doors for Christmas, with the majority (87 per cent) planning to host a carol service.

The news comes as cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are rising rapidly, potentially doubling every two days. The highest number of daily cases (79,000) was reported on Wednesday 15 December.

Long queues have formed for booster jabs, as people seek to gain extra protection against the virus.

Bible Society’s Director of Domestic Mission, Nigel Langford said, ‘The Bible is an incredible source of guidance, hope and peace in whatever circumstances we face.

‘Covid-19 has changed the landscape we live in, and created huge uncertainty. But the God we read about in the nativity is one whose love can be relied upon. At Bible Society, we hope that this will be a source of hope in this winter’s darkness.’

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