So, lock-down is being slowly eased. Garden centres have re-opened and police are having to put traffic calming measures in place so people can go to the McDonald’s drive-thru!
Exercising has extended beyond an hour and coastal towns are being inundated with people looking to visit the seaside. One report I read from North Devon likened the traffic on a Wednesday in May to the height of the Summer in August! It seems that for some, the change of government slogan from ‘stay home’ to ‘stay alert’, has been translated as, ‘as long as I’m ok, I can do what I like’!
Can I encourage us all to swim against this tide and continue to think ‘how does what I’m doing impact others?’
We continue to pray that you stay safe and don’t forget, if there are things you’d like prayer for, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
wePRAY – June 2020
You may have heard about Mental Health Awareness week? A week in May, which is a specifically designated period focussing on people’s wellbeing and mental health. For charities like east to west, it’s a valuable tool to raise awareness of the types of work we do.
Whether by quirk or design, during that week, ITV showed a programme called Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh, where Harry Redknapp – former footballer, football manager and King of the Celebrity Jungle – took a group of former England internationals (all 40+) on tour around Europe playing games and generally lamenting the fact they’re getting old. Add to the mix a lot of alcohol, some questionable language and plenty of ‘banter’ and you get, for three episodes at least, something for a football starved fan something to watch that isn’t Coronation Street! Alongside the expected, you also begin to get a sense of the former players fragility. How no longer playing football and having the team camaraderie, the adulation of fans and the thrill of scoring or winning matches is impacting both their physical and mental health. There is a real sense of understanding why they feel the need to use alcohol, gambling or drugs to replace these thrills, and in some places case, you get a saddening insight into the life-changing impacts that this had and continues to have.
In one particularly poignant moment, Lee Hendrie (former Aston Villa player) opened up about his ongoing battle with depression and the two suicide attempts he made whilst facing bankruptcy. He’d invested in property whilst playing (something he thought would secure his future long-term), but the financial crash of 2008 meant he lost it all owing £200,000. This resulted in both his, and his Mum’s home being repossessed. He was chatting with Paul Merson (Arsenal), a recovering alcoholic and gambling addict and Mark Wright (Liverpool), who struggled to move on, after England lost in the 1990 World Cup Semi-Final. During the conversation, Hendrie asked Wright about the experiences of that night, and the programme cut to the infamous penalty shootout that England lost to Germany. Within the footage was a scene with Stuart Pearce (a player nicknamed Pyscho!) crying after he’d missed a penalty. The commentary simply said, ‘there’s Stuart Pearce crying… I thought he was a hard man!’
For me, in a nutshell you saw the biggest challenge faced by these former players. This publicly expressed opinion that they were immune from feelings and emotions and, if God forbid, they did struggle, their very identity as a man was being questioned too. No wonder, given this unhelpful public scrutiny, they felt closer to each other (brotherhood) and utilised unhealthy coping strategies to cope in private.
The upshot to the programme was that they were able to show these ‘hard men’ begin to come to terms with and open up about their struggles and realities. Paul Merson in particular came across as both thoroughly likeable, but also incredibly self-aware and compassionate… something that would have been hard to recognise when he was a player!
Fortunately, we now live in a period of history, where talking and being more open about our experiences is more acceptable, whilst there is less stigma attached to admitted you’re struggling… (apparently Covid-19 has led to a 50% increase in people’s stress – so it’s happening to us all!)
The irony of this month’s wePRAY is that I’d planned to write about running out of things to say, particularly given the limited pool of people to talk to at the moment – and yet, one show was enough to remind me that ‘It’s good to talk’, especially about how you’re coping and what you’re feeling. Over the coming weeks, can I continue to encourage you to stay connected with people, whether via text, phone, email, zoom, or as my kids have discovered, letter!
Also, if you get the chance (and you aren’t offended by bad language), it’s worth seeing if you can find Harry’s Heroes – whilst it’s based around football, it’s focus is much more about the people involved – it’ll be on the ITV Hub.
This June we’re praying specifically for Christine, our Relational Support Worker at Thamesmead. Christine has been part of east to west for many years and brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and creativity (as well as colour) to our team. Can I encourage you to pray for Christine this month, especially around her prayer requests below:
I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to be on holiday by the beautiful Caribbean Sea just before Lockdown. God knows exactly how to bless us, prepare us and keep us.
Gratitude for God preserving and healing my 85-year-old mum through Covid-19. She has Alzheimer’s. I miss her and my regular times in Winchester. Please pray for the care home to be virus free so visits from all her family can resume. Mum’s floor is now Covid-19 clear, but 2 floors below are not. Please also pray for a buyer for her house which went on to the market as lockdown took place.
I’m thankful for the furlough scheme and mortgage payment holiday which has benefitted 3 households of us. Please pray for more contracts to come in for Keith’s firm as well as Justin’s so they can return to their employments and avoid redundancy.
Please pray for Olivia’s new business (Olivia Joy Folds) to flourish. Please pray for Sophie who lost her job on returning from the wedding, days before the lockdown. Pray for her to find work again and for her music platform to grow. Pray for Joe to get well as he is struggling with clinical depression at the moment.
Pray for wisdom for Head Phil Reeves and SLT with all the complicated decisions and problems to navigate to keep the school safe for pupils and staff and pioneer an excellent new normal.
Pray for year 10 as they return to school. With so many complex changes, it is important that they receive good support to cope with their mental health following the lockdown, managing social distancing, catching up work and maintaining mixed timetable in school and out as well as the enormous pressure of GCSE’s. I will be part of the small team who will be having a 5-minute conversation, making a mental health assessment for each year 10 pupil. This will help us judge the needs of each returning student.
Teaching Staff who will be under enormous stress trying to teach lessons in school for year 10 and online for the rest. It is particularly difficult for staff with little ones under foot. Pray that for us all, we’d manage the new normal rhythm of in-school with online.
Please lift the new year 7 to God who will be preparing to transition in very difficult circumstances.
Pray that I would be able to arrange regular sessions with students and not just odd calls outside of school hours and to be fully integrated into the new normal as school goes forward.
To continue to improve my tech skills (It’s my weakest suit).
That I would better understand how I can be a support for my school link Lisa who is very, very busy.
For me to be able to keep up the rhythms of rest and spending time with God as we move forward to being busier.
Thank you so much for praying, I really appreciate your prayers.