Twelve Months of Change: our Memories of a Turbulent Year.


Tuesday 23rd March marks twelve months since Lockdown restrictions were first imposed in England.

Colleagues at Caritas Westminster have shared their personal thoughts and memories of the past year. 

Elke runs the Caritas Volunteer Service. Her main memory from the early days of Lockdown is the Caritas Covid-19 Response Team.

“It started as a way to find help with distributing food and other short notice urgent needs, but quickly extended to cover all Covid-19 related volunteering needs. Over 100 people signed up very quickly and it grew throughout the year.
There was an overwhelming sense of community. Not only were people willing to help, but there was a sense that 
people had a real need to volunteer.”

Liz, Development Worker for North Hertfordshire, remembers an amazing achievement:

“I Co-ordinated the delivery of around 50  food parcels a week to families in Hitchin & Letchworth from the beginning of the pandemic. This project is ongoing and is feeding an average of 122 people every week. This doesn’t include the support that we have given to another project that I help manage Feed Up Warm Up which has provided an additional 1560 food parcels and hot meals to homeless guests or those at risk of homelessness during the same period.”

Well done to Liz and all the volunteers in Hitchin – when added up this comes to 7560 individual acts of service! 

Meriel, our deputy director, considers how, though physically separated, we have been able to work together better, using technology: 

“the most striking thing for me has been the increased engagement and networking with and within parishes, schools, projects and charity partners.  Our professional networks have grown tenfold, thanks to online meetings.  
Outside St Monica's

The extended lockdown period has physically and mentally forced us out of our routines, and given a chance to dream of a new way of working together.  Many projects that started up or expanded are now working with us on the Road to Resilience to strengthen projects to help people out of poverty.”

Inès, Development worker for South West London agrees that seeing new projects and networks was a highlight, and comments:

“Lockdown has also shown us what is essential and what is not, and made us reflect on what our hopes for the future are.”

Kathy, who runs the Start Up Business Programme at SEIDS, is also proud of the way people made strong connections online:

“Our programming was completely reworked – we changed facilitators, recruited new mentors and, crucially, moved everything online without losing a single participant. The sense of camaraderie that emerged amongst a group of people who haven’t ever met in real life was remarkable. We’ve had more participants at workshops than ever before, more corporate partners interested in our work and a huge funding agreement was finally signed off with Brent council. It’s the knowledge of these often small and occasionally huge achievements that has kept us going throughout the past year and will fortify us for whatever is ahead.”

Minet, Development Worker for East London remembers how hard it was:

“Initially the pandemic brought darkness in our lives, not knowing when we will be seeing our families and friends. The daily death toll of people was frightening. So was the uncertainty of jobs, furlough, redundancies. However, it has also brought positivity; community spirit, knowing and helping your neighbours. And I hope, once this is over, to keep the community spirit growing, developing and connecting.”

Louise, Communications Officer reflects

“It was especially humbling to hear about the teachers who, as well as coping with teaching remotely, were delivering food to families they knew were struggling.


But then I start thinking, why, in our society, do people have so little that they are relying on foodbanks? The pandemic did not cause this, but it has exposed how many people were living on the edge all along, and the inequalities and injustices which exist within our society. I am pleased that we have played a part, not just in providing food, but in highlighting campaigns such as Keep the Lifeline, which aim to ensure people do not need hand-outs from charities”

Colette, from Westminster Justice and Peace, considers another event which shook the world in 2020:

“My most memorable moment during the pandemic came at the end of a shift at the refreshment station in Trafalgar Square and finding myself at the first Black Lives Matter rally. The atmosphere was powerful – full of determination, controlled anger and readiness for social change. It inspired me to organise a seminar: A Catholic Response to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and take part in difficult but critical conversations throughout the year.”

Anna, who runs the Caritas Food Collective and Caitlin, our Information Officer, both remember the response of communities in distributing food to those who needed it

“We witnessed the amazing way communities have come together this year to support those most in need. In Hertfordshire last summer, we helped distribute over 2 tonnes of free food to projects across the Diocese of Westminster.  Our parishes and schools worked together, by helping each other load food into their vehicles, as well as dropping food to other projects who were unable to collect. For us, this day truly personifies what is meant by the term ‘Caritas’ – it was love in action.”

Rosa, development worker for North London, agrees that the community response has been incredible, adding

“I hope that we can all use this time as a source to draw on in the future, knowing what we are capable of when we work together.”2020 - A Year in Pictures

Shell, who manages the Caritas Deaf Service said:

“I am extremely proud of my team in the way that they have responded to these challenges.  Using their experience, whilst at the same time developing new skills and ways of working, together we have been able to continue to deliver our mission with fantastic support from many of the Deaf Community and our signing priests. Teamwork at its best.”

Many staff members would have been regular churchgoers, and some reflected on the change it made to have churches closed. 

Elke said:

“Churches closing was a real low point and not something I ever thought possible. What a gift the holy Eucharist is! Easter without being able to attend mass brought that home especially.”

But Sr Silvana, Development Worker for North West London offers a different perspective:

“When our church buildings had to close, we [Caritas] were able to remain open. Somehow, throughout this, I never felt part of the Eucharistic fast experienced by so many of us. Thanks to my work I’ve been privileged to know so many who are a sacrament, who are Eucharist, a visible sign of Christ and his uncontained, self-giving love in our world right now, especially for the ones who are hungriest – for love as much as food – and weakest from the journey. Sadly, the Body of Christ continues to be broken: but it also continues to be given; freely, generously and without reserve.”

At Caritas Bakhita House, lockdown meant they had to rely on each other and strengthen their own community. Karen wrote this on behalf of everyone there: 

“We have all learnt from 2020 how precious life is, now we have to find ways of celebrating the most important gift we can be given. Being accepting of each other, sharing food and love ,being a community, makes a better World.” 

Pope Francis once said that, ‘Love is always at the service of others. Because love is seen in actions, not words.’ These reflections and memories from the Caritas Team are a testament to this. They bear witness to increased community and solidarity across the Diocese of Westminster. It is this community and solidarity fostered within our schools, parishes and wider Diocese that has brought light and hope in such a dark time for those most in need. It is this community and solidarity which has inspired the work of Caritas Westminster this past year, and which will continue to inspire our work towards a more just post-Covid world. 



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