Although the region of Karelia in north Russia, where our link parish in the town of Kondopoga is situated, started off virus free when our own lockdown started, they sadly caught up very quickly and it is now one of the worst hit areas of Russia. Our link church, led by Father Lev, Mother Julia and their team, stayed open as long as possible in order to continue their community work, which is so vital for the families they support. However, they have now been forced to close the church, while continuing their support from Parish House, where Father Lev and Mother Julia live.
We at Chester Cathedral have helped to fund the work of Kondopoga church with vulnerable children for the last 12 years, many of whom are on the streets all day and have very little family support. Social Services work closely with the parish and refer children to them to be fed during the school holidays and supported through the school term. Since the pandemic started the number of families and children referred to the parish has increased, so they are now looking after 20 families consisting of 28 adults and 49 children.
Because of the lockdown they can no longer host lunches on the premises, so they are delivering four food parcels a month to the neediest families, as well as medicines, shoes, school supplies and clothes and even arranging for online consultations with doctors. In addition to this they are hosting online classes in cookery and crafts for those families who have access to the internet and are planning educational visits during the autumn and winter once restrictions on movement are eased.
There is a great need for us to contribute not just our normal amount this year, but as much as we can manage. Clearly this will be difficult because of our own lockdown, but if you feel like helping out please send your donation to St Gregory’s Foundation via their website here.