God, COVID and you – telling Southend your story

God, COVID and you – telling Southend your story

When was the last time Southend-on-Sea Borough Council asked for stories of faith to be published on one of their websites? We can’t remember either, but they are right now!

  • What difference did your faith make to how you handled lockdowns and the COVID restrictions?
  • How did your church family adapt and respond?
  • How have you / your church family served the wider community during COVID?
  • What are the key things about your faith you would like others to know?
  • Do you have a story to tell?
  • Could you make a short video about any of that?

Introduction by John Simmons

Some of you will know that, alongside the Southend Inter-Faith Working Group (SIWG), Kelly Marks (one of the Council’s Community Partnership Officers) set up an on-line Faith and Communities Support Group that has met almost every other week for the last year. We have just agreed to rename it the ‘Southend Faith and Belief Network’.

It is attended by an eclectic set of faith leaders and other interested people – from Love Southend (LS) this includes Mark, John, and Nola as regular attendees (not just as representatives of LS, but for Nola and John, also as local church leaders). Kelly has organised speakers for most of the sessions, but sometimes we just talk about how we and our congregations are coping.

Recently, one of the Museum staff approached the group to float the idea of commemorating how the local faith and belief groups had been able to carry on celebrating their faith/belief especially when their places of worship or gatherings have been closed. He admitted that the local museums are noticeably short of items from a faith/belief origin, so there was a slight ulterior motive in his suggestion!

Over the weeks, our discussions narrowed the various suggestions down to the first week-long virtual Southend Faith & Belief Festival.

The details and how you can participate are further explained by Kelly below.

This is a great opportunity for some faith story-telling by Christians! Please get involved!

The Southend Faith and Belief Festival

As a representative of your faith community, we hope that you will be able to contribute to this exciting showcase for Southend.

We now have the official permissions needed to launch the exhibition platform and would like to start collecting the short videos that will be played to the public as part of the virtual exhibition across the week commencing 17th May 2021.

Considering the best layout and accessibility for the exhibition content, it has been decided that the most efficient process will be to collect short (3 – 4 minute) videos in one or more of these three categories:

1. A short video presented by the faith or belief leader, outlining

  • Who you are, which organisation you represent, and your role;
  • An introduction to your place of worship and how people are welcome to attend (if appropriate); and
  • The daily practices or anything significant about your faith or belief.

2. An insight from you explaining

  • How you and your congregation worked to support each other during lockdown; and/or
  • Any support that you gave to your local community throughout the pandemic, or as part of your usual work within the community;
  • What has been important to you and your congregation over the last year?

3. Any annual celebrations / days for your faith or belief that occurred during the pandemic, covering, for example:

  • Special meals and ceremonies;
  • Practices; and
  • Objects of significance.

If you can send me videos in all three categories, that would be amazing! Footage taken on a mobile phone will be fine.

Please can you email them to me (Kelly Marks) or send them via WhatsApp on 07717 540289 with a title and description of the video.

In order to get content ready, we will need the videos by Friday 16th April; although, if you feel this will be a challenge for you, please do let me know asap.

Please do not overthink it! We can assist in the editing process, so they do not have to be perfect. If you feel that you need any assistance with recording, please get in touch: we may be able to help there too.

The public engagement page for this project will be launched soon for members of your communities to share their own experiences. But, even before this is launched, please feel free to start opening up conversations about the project, and please encourage them to get involved!

I look forward to receiving your footage and working with you in creating this great project showcasing the wonderful faith and belief communities of Southend.

Kind regards,

Please do not hesitate to ask John or Kelly for any clarification.

John Simmons
(Member of the Love Southend Servant Team and part of the Festival Planning Sub-Group)
Tel.: (01702) 472297 or 07866 740065
email: john.simmons17ewb@btinternet.com

Kelly Marks
(Community Partnership Officer, Corporate Strategy Group, Southend Borough Council)
Tel.: (01702) 212737
email: kellymarks@southend.gov.uk

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