Community project bringing hope to thousands set to continue after lockdown


An initiative bringing hope to thousands of people in a former Staffordshire coal-mining town will continue beyond lockdown as a model for supporting the community.
A couple pose with donations in a supermarket

St John’s Community and St Anne’s churches have been at the heart of Burntwood Be A Friend (BBAF), a local partnership which mobilised in response to Coronavirus.

Revd Richard Westwood, Team Vicar at St Anne’s, and Revd Matt Wallace, Team Vicar at St John’s, say: “It’s been a true community partnership involving the town council, foodbank, supermarkets, businesses and other organisations.”

BBAF has:

  • Set up a website, Facebook Page and helpline and recruited and mobilised over 100 local, DBS-checked volunteers to do shopping, collect food donations and prescriptions and offer a listening ear.
  • Responded to over 450 requests for help, with follow-up support offered.
  • Cooked and delivered over 3,000 cooked meals for local households.
  • Provided and delivered approximately 1,500 food parcels.
  • Set up four ‘community tables’ of short shelf-life produce available free for local residents and topped up on a regular basis each week.
A woman poses with donations in a supermarket trolley

Grants and local fund-raising mean BBAF can employ community support workers on short-term contracts going forward. 

“BBAF has made a big difference to our community’s ability to find support and help when needed,” say Richard and Matt. “Although the pandemic has stretched us in unexpected ways, it has been amongst the most vibrant missional work we’ve ever been involved with. We hope BBAF may help as an example of love in action for the wider mission of the church going forward.”