We have received several queries about whether Messy Churches should still go ahead following the most recent advice from the Church of England. Currently, (as of Mon Mar 16 2020) there is no suggestion from the Church of England that there should be general cancellation of services and events - however, churches are encouraged to review and complete a continuity plan.
Do check the latest information from the Church of England - https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches, it is being updated regularly.
Many groups are thinking about whether they should still run their stay and play/baby and toddler group/Messy Church. Here are some things that we would recommend you think about as you make decisions for your particular context:
Think carefully about your volunteer/staff team – how many people do you need to safely make an event happen? Those who have a new and persistent cough and a temperature are being asked to self-isolate at home whilst those with underlying health conditions and older people may choose to self-isolate.
- the best way to protect others is for everyone to use universal good hygiene. Display the public information poster-https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/resources/posters/en/
-If you don’t have access to running water or hand sanitiser, use a thermos flask of hot water, individual bowls and paper towels which should be thrown away immediately after use. Please note that wet-wipes are not a suitable alternative, as they are not effective in killing or removing viruses
- make sure you wash/anti-bac toys on a weekly basis, consider reducing the number of toys you put out each week
- have tissues available for coughs and sneezes (and bins to put them in).
- encourage parents/carers/children to wash hands before snack/meal time
- Think carefully about your refreshments – don’t have multiple people touching mugs, utensils and food stuffs. Only one person should be responsible for touching/handing out mugs, utensils and foodstuffs. They should regularly wash their hands/wear disposable gloves.
- Do Remove the communal biscuit plate.
- If you serve a meal as part of your Messy Church consider how you will do this, or consider removing this element for your next Messy Church but still gathering.
To help support the children you are in contact with, the following might be helpful - https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/2020/03/11/coronavirus/If you decide to cancel your group/Messy Church, think carefully about how you can pastorally and spiritually support your families – can you use emails, prayer sheets, social media or the internet to help people stay in touch and feel less isolated at a worrying time?
Think about how you can care for your community who are ill or self-isolating and how you can support them, have you got a local community facebook group? Many communities are setting up facebook groups to enable locals to offer or request support – how can the church get involved in supporting this?
The Messy Church organisation have advice here:
If you have any questions or queries don't hesitate to contact Ruth Young at Parish Mission Support. Ruth's email is email@example.com