In Brent Cross, North London, Ayo Adedoyin, Head of Communications and Community Action at Jesus House has also been seeing lives changed with the help of a grant from the Rapid Response Fund. “Thanks to a £100,000 gift, with £50,000 of that conditional on match funding, we found ourselves with a pot of £150,000. We were able to provide support for those in food poverty, provide employability training and address mental health challenges as well as domestic violence and abuse. We’ve always wanted to do even more as the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighbourhood, and Stewardship gave us an amazing gift that has helped us produce even more incredible fruit.”
In the early days of lockdown last March, Ayo and his team began to hear about an escalation of domestic violence. “We were able to partner with local charity Grace to Graces. We engaged with them to address some of the issues and come alongside people suffering in abusive situations. The gift helped us to scale up our capacity, run a helpline, employ new counsellors and walk alongside people going through difficulties. We witnessed abusive and damaging situations being averted and that only happened because we could partner quickly with a local charity, thanks to Stewardship.”
Research carried out by the Health Foundation shows that mental health has worsened by 8.1% since the pandemic began, while levels of anxiety and depression are highest amongst young people, those with lower household income, people with a diagnosed mental illness and people living in urban areas.
Jesus House was already concerned about increasing mental health issues, pre-Covid. “Thanks to the RRF, we were able to bring together various teams from within Jesus House and form MAEWS (Mind and Emotional Wellbeing Service). We were able to offer advice on mental health and wellness, refer on in the instances where someone needed specialist professional counselling and bring in additional resources where required.”
Jesus House invested another part of their pot of money into a survey tool to find out how their community is being affected by the pandemic, plus a small amount towards supporting communities outside the UK where the impact of the pandemic is particularly severe. Finally, having asked if they could reprovision some of the funds, money was invested in food poverty gaps in the community and helping with future employability. “We’re starting to look towards the future and recovery, and we want to help our neighbours thrive post-Covid. It’s been a tremendous pleasure to partner with Stewardship. We’ve got so much love and admiration for what they do.”