By Joachim Teigen
The Archdiocese of Cardiff in Wales has been awarded £100,000 by the Barclays Bank to continue its relief work over the Christmas season. The “100x100 UK COVID-19 Community Relief Programme” was launched by the UK bank to support local charities in their response to immediate community needs.
A statement released jointly by Barclays and the Archdiocese states that the Archdiocese of Cardiff is one of only 100 UK charities to be awarded under the programme directed at communities suffering lack of food as a direct result of Covid-19.
Support in crisis
The UK is one of the European countries most severely affected by the pandemic, with almost 1,800,000 cases, and more than 63,000 deaths.
Barclays Chairman, Nigel Higgins, explained that the programme is a response to a crisis which has “created an unprecedented social and economic impact in the UK, with many experiencing greater hardship”.
Higgins also expressed the hope that the bank together with the charities may support their local communities through the crisis. He praised the efforts of the Archdiocese of Cardiff, saying that they “have been playing a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic, ensuring urgent help reaches those most in need of support”.
Church responding to need of “Diocesan Family”
Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff responded to the award saying:
We can all agree that no one should suffer from food poverty at any time, perhaps especially during this “Season of Plenty” as the advertisers remind us. We in the Archdiocese of Cardiff are only too well aware that this Christmas is going to be a particularly difficult time for many families this year. In this regard, it is our privilege to be able to support those in need with the generous help provided by Barclays and our many other supporters.
The Archbishop also praised the efforts of all the “unsung heroes” who give of their time to voluntarily help others in need, calling their response to the pandemic “heroic”.
The award for community relief programmes strikes at the heart of what the Welsh Church has been doing since the start of the pandemic. Archbishop Stack earlier in the year referred to his diocese as a “Diocesan Family”, explaining that “one of the identifying marks of Wales is the strength of local communities”. Combining with this the Church as a community, the Archbishop said that parishes have gone “above and beyond in terms of community involvement”.
Catholic schools in need
One of the channels through which the Archdiocese performs its relief work is its many schools. The Archdiocese serves a total of 19,500 pupils in 54 Primary and Secondary Schools. Some of these schools have “the worst health inequalities in the UK” according to the press release. St. Michael’s Primary School in Newport is one of the schools which recognised the impact the pandemic would have on families.
The Chair of Governors, Mr. Peter Landers, said that there were already disadvantaged families in their school. “The arrival of Covid-19 has made things worse, especially for hard working families who were just getting by before the lockdown”, Mr Landers explained.
A total of 8,000 individuals are estimated to receive aid through the Archdiocese of Cardiff’s relief efforts, with 3,200 disadvantaged households being identified and receiving food vouchers in this “season of plenty”.