Staying home, saving lives

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members" Coretta Scott King

It is so refreshing then, to reflect that one of the best things to come out of the Covid-19 crisis is a renewed strengthening of connection and community. Standing on the kerb outside my house at 8pm every Thursday, the burst of sound from applause and pots clanging in support of our amazing NHS, care and other essential workers brings a lump to my throat. It creates a powerful sense of solidarity from households all around, but which are otherwise living in isolation from each other and provides a reminder that we are standing together to get through the challenges of the current crisis.

In the same vein, it is great we are able to present a newsletter, full of other positive stories, that reflects the kindness and courage of so many people and organisations working hard to support people in their communities. Sometimes the acts of kindness may seem small and, yet, make an overwhelming difference to the recipient who is reminded they are appreciated and not forgotten. The thoughtfulness behind such acts is huge and I hope many of the articles you read below will remind you too, of the huge capacity that people have to care for one another.

David Hobdey, Chief Executive Officer

Activities Remotely

As the true extent of the crisis started to emerge and lockdown seemed imminent, we realised how seriously this would impact on many of our Community Outreach service-users. The social, creative, physical and spiritual activities we provide, have helped dramatically reduce social isolation among our users. It had taken great courage for many of our attendees to come along to our sessions, we couldn't just close up shop and leave them stranded, we had to do something.

So, since the start of lockdown, our dedicated Community Outreach team have been producing a weekly newsletter, Activities Remotely, comprising a comprehensive guide of projects, interactive exercises, podcasts, games and much more. It also features advice on how to keep in touch with friends and family, technological support and how to use the most reliable news outlets. In addition, the team provide weekly updates on local shops, restaurants and suppliers offering delivery services.

Some of the feedback we have received includes:

“Wow, that’s amazing. The Community Outreach team have been working hard to keep everyone engaged in activities during this difficult time, brilliant!”


“This is truly brilliant, I am choked. I can see the Community Outreach team (Superstars) have been working really hard to pull this together in such a short space of time. I am sure all users will greatly appreciate this support. Such a varied programme. I will certainly dip into the exercise classes and my sister wants to join in too”.

You can click this link to view the most recent version of Activities Remotely, and please share with anyone that you feel would also benefit.

St John's Funding Support

As Covid-19 increased its grip on the country, both in terms of health and financial impacts, here at St John's we responded by amending our Individual Funding Programme criteria to make it easier for our referrers to support a wider-range of beneficiaries.

Since March, as a direct result of the Covid-19 outbreak, we have pledged to:

  • Disregard any support St John’s has previously awarded as part of our assessment process, meaning a full allocation of funding can be awarded even if support has previously been given in the last three years
  • Ensure that any funding awarded now does not impact on an individual or family’s ability to secure a full allocation of support from St John’s in the future, meaning applications linked directly to Covid-19 will be treated as ‘one-offs’
  • Be flexible around our usual definition of ‘low income’ (which we usually take to be a monthly disposable household income of £215) and the documentation we require as supporting evidence
  • Be open to funding a wide range of goods and services which may be requested

In the Organisation Funding department...

St John's has teamed up with Quartet Community Foundation to deliver vital financial support to FareShare South West. At the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the charity was seeking urgent funding for their Covid-19 Emergency Food Operation. By working together, St John's and Quartet have given the charity a much needed £40,000 boost. The funds will enable FareShare to continue to support all of the BaNES groups it currently does including schools, nurseries and children's centres, homeless shelters and the elderly, whilst maintaining the flow of surplus food into the local authority.

“St John’s has been funding FareShare since the beginning of 2019. We recognise the huge value of its work in making sure food is accessible and affordable for charities and individuals living in BaNES. At this time, many more people are struggling to access and afford food, and supporting FareShare is an excellent way of using our resources to effectively help people during this difficult time” - Sam Gillett, Head of Funding at St John's

We have also awarded £4,800 to enable 3SG to increase their website’s capacity for volunteer sign-ups and support them in the development of the Compassionate Community Hub (read more about the hub further down). This has enabled them to begin the process of providing vital volunteer support to charities and communities.

To find out more about our Funding Support Programmes, please visit our website here.

Clap for our Carers

As is the familiar sight now throughout the land, residents at both our Chapel Court and Combe Park sites, come out on a Thursday night to applaud both the NHS and our carers. It has been heartening to see the banners and flags, specifically thanking St John's.

We would like to share this anecdote which makes us extremely proud - one of our residents is, sadly, suffering from Motor Neuron Disease and, due to his condition, is left unable to speak. Cindy, our Team Leader for the Independent Living Service, and other members of our service, have been visiting him regularly during this difficult time to ensure that he is ok.

On one of Cindy’s visits, she asked whether she could do anything for him and he put his thumbs up to indicate that he was ok and didn’t need anything.

As Cindy began to walk away, the resident stood at his door and started clapping loudly for her, a non-verbal, heartfelt sign of his appreciation of her kindness and hard work.

To support #ClapforCarers and NHS Charities Together - head to: www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/

Jacky's Easter Sunday Service

Many of you will have seen, 'The Portobello Priest' (Pat Allerton) trending online for offering portable Church Services in London. Our very own Chaplain, Jacky Wise, decided to follow in his footsteps and bring some joy to our almshouse residents by performing an Easter Sunday Service within the grounds of our two sites at Combe Park and Chapel Court.

Like so many others, our residents have been missing the positivity that comes from engaging with social groups, taking part in Community Outreach activities and being able to access local community services.

And while we have put measures in place to ensure our residents remain well, active and busy while isolating at home, we also felt it was important that they should have the opportunity to enjoy their traditional Easter Sunday Service, even if not at The Chapel of St Michael’s Within.

So, Reverend Jacky Wise took the Service to them.

View the short video on our website, here.


To support our residents during this challenging and potentially isolating time, staff at St John’s have been going the extra mile to make sure that our residents have access to everything they need, such as medicines and food and that no-one feels isolated or lonely.

In addition to our Independent Living Service operating its usual 24-hour care system (in line with government guidance on PPE and social distancing), members of the wider workforce have also been offering their time to volunteer for our residents:

We now have a group of staff who are making regular food-shopping trips, armed with residents' lists and collecting prescriptions.

We have also introduced a befriending service, where staff make daily phone calls to residents who have opted to receive them. Self-isolating shouldn't mean that you have to feel isolated and, given many of our residents do live alone, the daily phone calls provide a conversation, where they may have had no other interaction that day.

The benefits of the befriending phone calls are reciprocal, with the majority of our staff home-working, they too can feel isolated. Many staff have reported feeling happier that they are able to help in such a meaningful way and that they look forward to speaking to their designated residents each day.

Well done, Team St John's!

Good news from across Bath and the surrounding area

We are incredibly proud to be part of the Bath & North East Somerset Community. Since March 23, residents, business owners, charities and volunteers have swiftly responded and adapted to ensure those who are most vulnerable are protected, our frontline key workers supported and that news of all available help is widely disseminated. On that note, we are pleased to share with you some very good news from across our region.

Compassionate Community Hub launches to support vulnerable residents

Since the crisis began, BaNES Council, in partnership with Virgin Care and 3SG, have worked around the clock to set up the Compassionate Community Hub, reaching out to the vulnerable and isolated to provide help with food deliveries, medicine, urgent housing, mental health and wellbeing and money matters.

Open 9am-5pm 7 days a week, residents who find themselves without local support, can call 0300 247 0050 and the Hub team will match them with one of the 2,000+ volunteers who have registered to help.

“We are incredibly proud of the flexibility, dedication and compassion of colleagues within our partner organisations and volunteers that have enabled this service to be set up so quickly and one of the first to provide a joined-up solution that reaches out to the most vulnerable.” James Carlin – BaNES 3SG

To find out more about how to access support or register as a volunteer, please visit the 3SG website here.

The BaNES community answers the call for PPE

Although we cannot physically be together as a community, the sense of connection and support for one another has never been stronger. A perfect example of this is the way in which local organisations and businesses have responded to the PPE shortage. Right now, here in Bath & North East Somerset, there are hundreds of people, many of whom are volunteers, working tirelessly to produce the vital PPE that our NHS staff and other frontline care workers desperately need.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in this awesome effort.

If your business has surplus PPE because your daily operations are on hold, the official email address to contact is: bswccg.ppe@nhs.net

Photo: Foldall at King Edward's School. Photo credit: Andrew Lloyd.

BA1 radio launches ‘The Daily Good’ show to celebrate positive community action in Bath

Bath’s non-profit community radio station, BA1 Radio, is bringing residents a dose of good news via their new show ‘The Daily Good’. Hosted by local lifestyle blogger Sarah Baker, The Daily Good focusses on positive initiatives across the city. From the charity sector to small local businesses, Sarah shines a spotlight on the remarkable work going on. Sarah said,

‘‘Local radio is more relevant than ever and giving Bathonians a voice feels extremely important. Right now, Bath is awash with good deeds and community initiatives, so sharing this with the city is a huge privilege. It has made me feel emotional too, hearing the efforts people go to so they can support others.”

BA1 was set-up last year to train and educate people in radio broadcasting. There are 35 volunteers broadcasting 12 hours of shows every weekday, and due to lockdown, they are doing so directly from their homes. With four times the number of listeners now tuning in, each member of the BA1 team is working incredibly hard to keep the local community informed and entertained. If you can support BA1 Radio, please head over to their website to donate or find out more about sponsorship opportunities: https://ba1.radio/sponsorship/

Local foodie businesses transform to support our NHS and frontline care staff.

Thoughtful Bread Bakery, Eveleigh’s Catering, The Mint Room, Yak Yeti Yak and Homewood House are just some of the local foodie businesses, who in addition to rustling up delicious food for collection/delivery, are raising funds for the RUH and/or providing delicious free meals to RUH staff and other local charities.

"The whole rationale was to make the life of frontline staff as easy as possible. If we could take out some of the worry of the basics then they could get on with treating people. We wanted to help them help others." Jimmy Eveleigh - Eveleigh's Catering
"In sometimes the most difficult of times you see the most generous gestures made and I am hugely moved by the contributions the generous Bath people are making to a covid-19 fund we have started, which to date means we will be able to supply over 375 meals to the RUH front line staff." Duncan Glendinning - Thoughtful Bread

To offer your support to their fundraising campaigns or to discover which local independent foodies are open collection/delivery, check out the latest Pig Guide feature and the 3SG Sustainable Food Partnership List here.

Never has there been a time when St John’s own values of trust, kindness and courage, all reflected in the news articles we have shared, been more important. And I believe we are right to be optimistic that it will be the power of communities coming together that enables us to defeat the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. Perhaps it’s worth bearing in mind that in its 846 year history, St John’s has witnessed and survived many major crises, including the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses, Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, the English civil war and the Gunpowder Plot and two World Wars, to name but a few!

We will go on surviving, because it’s what strong communities do.

We will go on providing homes and supporting and caring for those in need in our society, because it's what St John's does.

Please look after yourselves and stay safe.

David Hobdey, Chief Executive Officer