Protecting Mother Earth Seminar 8 March 2020March 31, 2020
Final Report to the Interfaith Harmony Week event:June 2, 2020
Religions for Peace UK works with many local and international partners, and while we enjoy our friendship and support on the path to strive for peace, there are times we are truly astounded by the exceptional concern and care from the people we work with on a global level.
The China Committee on Religion and Peace (CCRP) is a non-profit national organization with representatives from the five major religions in China (Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism). It fosters friendship, peace, development and cooperation between the religions and promotes unity and harmony among religious groups, with in view to further exchanges and cooperation with international religious circles. CCRP joined the World Conference of Religions for Peace (later renamed Religions for Peace in 2008) in 1994 and the Asian Conference of Religion for Peace in 1996. Ever since then, CCRP has been a strategic partner for RfP International in advancing stability and peace among faith communities. RfPUK has received CCRP delegates from China, and during experience exchange and visiting religious sites, friendship and cooperation efforts were firmly established between us.
As COVID-19 was starting its spread all over the world in the early months of 2020, CCRP recognised that the apparent personal protection equipment shortages would impact communities all over the world, and due to the lack of centralised approach to obtaining, sharing and allocation of PPE in the UK, we were hard hit by the dilemma, it was particularly difficult for individuals and small organisations to obtain essential protective masks. In mid April, CCRP’s leadership decided to donate surgical face masks to RfP partners hoping it could help us with prevention and control of the coronavirus, and the UK chapter was generously given 20,000 medical masks. In their compassionate letter to us, Mr. Lacan the Secretary-General of CCRP said, “Great distance cannot separate us and we all live a united world. CCRP believes that as long as we help each other, we shall win this battle against COVID-19.”
RfPUK trustees immediately sprang into action and discussed the matter. Initially we considered donating the masks to bus drivers, health workers, and teachers delivering school meals. We wrote to many national institutions and NHS trusts, Public Health England, MPs, councils, unions etc, and surprisingly we have not heard back from them, and those who replied were passing us onto other organisations. We then reached out on a community level, and Oakdale Care Group responded to our offer of donation.
The Oakdale Care Group manages 4 care homes: Layston Grove in Buntingford, Herts; Kingfisher Court at Sutton-in-Ashfield (Near Mansfield); Timken Grange at Duston, Northampton and Westhill Park at Kettering, Northants. The first home opened in April 2017 and ever since then, the Group aims to provide residential and dementia care in purpose-built care homes. There are a total of 180 residents in the 4 homes with a team of approximately 280 healthcare staff. As personal protection equipment had been in serious shortage all over UK even for the NHS, care home workers are confronted with increasing pressure of equipment shortage, having to care for the elderly in a non-medical environment when realising the elderly are particularly vulnerable to COVID19. We liaised with their Head Office and they were very happy to receive the masks. Their CEO Mr Peter Battle wrote, “We are hugely grateful for the donation at such an unprecedented time.”
The masks arrived in England and we enlisted RfPUK supporters’ help, and they played a vital part in bringing this project to fruition. RfPUK would like to thank Mr Neil Horner and Mr Kevin Brough of Laltex, and Mr Dave Regan and his team at Regal Crown who helped and waived all incurred charges for the handling, importation and delivery of the masks to Oakdale Care Group. We are most grateful for their community spirit and kindness, and we know that the masks will be put to use by the care homes to safeguard the well-being for care-givers and residents alike.
Last but by no means least, RfPUK wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to CCRP our Chinese partner. Their concern and generosity for our well-being in our time of need epitomises the aim for peace work, where shared security and health is at the heart of our effort to build harmonious and prosperous communities all over the world. In Mr Lacan’s words, “the world is a community with shared future and should strengthen solidarity and cooperation to fight against it”, so let us “pray for the public health security for all mankind.”