Coronavirus and Light Project Peterborough

Dear Friend,

Coronavirus and Light Project Peterborough

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91)

We are facing challenging times. 

Firstly, we are praying for you, your loved ones and your local communities as you face uncertainty and disruption to normal daily life in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you for being a friend and supporter of Light Project Peterborough and the people we serve. 

This situation is unprecedented. Who could have foreseen a few weeks ago that we would have been advised to stay away from cafes, family gatherings and even church services for the sake of our health, and the health of those around us? Thankfully, although this is shocking to us there is one who has gone ahead of us, and will help us in this time of crisis. Please do pray for us and the rough-sleeping community we serve.

Can I please tell you about some particular effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on our work and the services we provide to homeless people. This is a rapidly evolving situation so more news will be available in the days and weeks to come. 

Homeless people are particularly vulnerable

We know that Coronavirus (Covid-19) poses the greatest risks to people who have existing medical conditions and those who are more frail due to older age. Sadly, due to the many hardships of life on the streets many homeless people have poor physical health and so are at increased risk from the virus. Despite the risks they face, it is very difficult for rough-sleepers to self-isolate. How do you avoid interactions with other people without a home to retreat to? We are finding that many of the people we support have received little or no advice or information about coronavirus. Some of the very people most in need are those receiving no advice at all.

At the Garden House and Peterborough Winter Night Shelter we are taking every possible precaution to protect the homeless people we serve, despite the many challenges. We are also working very closely with volunteers, churches and the many organisations we partner with to do everything in our power to ensure that everyone is kept safe.

Our volunteers also face significant challenges

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Light Project Peterborough. Over 400 volunteers are making Peterborough Winter Night Shelter possible this winter, and over 25 volunteers work at the Garden House, welcoming and supporting guests. Many of our fantastic volunteers are able to help us because they are retired and in their more senior years. We are so thankful to them for sacrificially giving their time and energies to help people in need. However, it is this very group of people who may be a little more advanced in years, and who also may have their own health difficulties, that are now advised to be extra careful about interacting with others and to self-isolate. The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers is paramount, there is no question about that. But as they rightly follow official guidance and stay away from groups of people, we are finding that we simply do not have the number of people we need to help run our services as before. We may need to take on additional paid staff to ensure we can support the homeless community, but this comes with increased cost.

We face financial challenges

As a local charity, Light Project Peterborough depends upon local churches, community groups and businesses to raise money for our work. However, the coronavirus is resulting in planned fundraising activities such as coffee mornings, half-marathons and quiz nights being cancelled, to prevent transmission of the virus. We are likely to see a substantial drop in our income in the months to come.

Please pray and support our work

Please do pray for us and the very vulnerable people we are helping. In particular pray for the safety and wellbeing of homeless people across the city, and the many people who are providing daily help and support – especially our fantastic staff and volunteers, and staff from the organisations we are working with. Please pray for wisdom as we plan out the way ahead in the coming days. 

It would be wonderful if you could prayerfully consider whether you are able to make a donation to support our work. You can donate online (which is easiest for us to process at present) or by sending us a cheque. Thank you very much for thinking of us while you face your own difficulties and uncertainties. We are very grateful.

Thank you so very much for standing with us at this time of crisis.

With warmest wishes

Steven Pettican

CEO, Light Project Peterborough