Offering & Preparing your Church Site/s for Use during Lockdown

We are all aware that we have not reached the apex of the pandemic in South Africa. In the coming weeks we will see a rise in the number of people who are reporting ill as well as an increase in large-scale testing. 

Both of these scenarios point towards the need for sites outside of the existing health structures to be available for asymptomatic or mildly-infected people to be quarantined and cared for – especially in order to mitigate the risk of widespread infection in high-density areas like informal settlements, townships and densely populated urban centres where people would struggle to self-isolate. We also foresee that, in some instances of localised outbreak of the COVID-19 infection, departments such as Disaster Management Services will need to utilise local facilities for field hospitals and other rapid, community-based interventions. 

Apart from the health-specific needs in this time, we also see potential for Church sites to be offered to NGOs and Department of Social Services as sites for housing people who have been living on the street, for places of refuge for women and children experiencing domestic violence during the lockdown or dignified and safe accommodation for Healthcare workers to be able to rest between shifts near their place of work.  

While the ideal scenario is that established NGOs and Government departments would provide protocols and resources for Church sites to be used in any of the above formations, it is possible that Local Ecumenical Action Networks (LEANs), in partnership with local NGOs or government structures might recognise a need to create a Care Centre. In such cases all food, human resource, shower facilities, security, beds etc would have to be sourced from within the LEAN or the local Church congregation. We envisage that this model would be taken up by as many churches in South Africa as possible, so the numbers of people supported by a local congregation will be relatively low, probably 10 – 20 at most. Keeping sites to caring for small numbers is crucial both to curb the spread of the disease as well as to make sure that each church is able to provide care in a sustainable manner.

From the outset, we would encourage individual churches to think through these different scenarios and formations and commit only to what they know they can reasonably offer. The Warehouse, in partnership with the SACC as a whole and with Western Cape coalitions, will try to source and distribute PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and sanitation packs for any churches who would like to be involved. We can also offer help to churches within the Cape Metro in setting up your sites and connecting you to partner churches.

While we are in contact with various NGOs and Government Departments regarding their needs, we need to clarify from the outset that any offer from a Church for their site to be used by these institutions, does not automatically mean that the offer will be taken up. We are trying to be proactive in offering these sites to Departments as a proclamation and demonstration of Jesus’ love and care, rather than waiting for the moment when these sites are needed and trying to mobilise then.

If you have any questions, please contact Wendy on covid19sa@warehouse.org.za. We will soon have contacts for ecumenical district and provincial working groups for other South African Provinces, but can direct/connect you via email in the meantime.

We will forward you specific guidelines to assist you in setting up your space should you want to run as a Care Center. You can also click here to download the latest version of the manual.

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