Coronavirus: Halifax vicar concerned for mental health of those self-isolating

Vicar of Halifax Minster has raised his concerns for people's mental well-being while in isolation as the Church of England cancels all public worship.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 2:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 3:13 pm

The decision by the CoE will affect more than 46 churches across Calderdale as the Government ramps up efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

One of the churches affected will be Halifax Minster with its vicar, Revd Canon Hilary Barber, backing the decision to put public worship on hold and become a “different sort of church” in the coming months to face the challenge of COVID-19.

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Halifax Minster vicar, Revd Canon Hilary Barber

“There will be an update from the head of church by Friday at the latest on funerals and weddings.

“We have many events booked with us from now until the summer, but we’re backing the government in banning mass gatherings and non-essential travel.

“Hopefully as soon as the virus subsides we can open to the public.

This is an unprecedented time and I urge everyone to pray.

Logan Bonham Smith of Unmasked from Croft Myl, in Halifax

“I’ve never lived through something like this before, and I imagine it’s going to become even more surreal in the next few weeks.

“The church is very concerned with people’s mental health during isolation, especially those living alone. I’m asking for family, friends, and even neighbours to check on each other, while keeping to official health advice.”

Yesterday, Diocese of Leeds’ Catholic Church, covering Halifax, confirmed it cancelled all public worship.

Halifax's mental health group Unmasked Mental Health have released the following statement for those struggling with self-isolation.

Luke Ambler, founding member of Andy's Man Club

Logan Bonham Smith, group founder, said: "We know that many people may be struggling with their mental health and well-being through this troubling time.

"We also want you to know that despite being isolated you are never alone, we are here for you.

"You can go on our mobile app, message us on any of our social media platforms and know that our community hubs will be taking place on our Facebook pages on Thursday evening at 7pm so you can unmask any issues and get everything off your chest.

"As a bit of advice, although social media can be a difficult place it also has its benefits.

"There are countless private pages where people offer support.

"Get joining these groups and chat to new people.

"We have our own private support page called 'unmasked support group'.

"This is also a perfect opportunity to reconnect with old friend and old hobbies.

"As long is your mind is positive and active you will never be alone.

"Give a friend a call and check in with people.

"Although it's harder said than done, please try remain positive throughout this current situation and offer one another support where possible."

A spokesperson from Andy's Man Club, a mental health group which originated in Halifax, said: "All 28 groups are closed for the next three weeks as a minimum.

"From day one we have been a one in all in organisation and with this in mind we don't want any confusion of where is open and where isn't as this could be more detrimental to our current or new users.

"We plan shut for the next 3 Mondays (two weeks) and will then make a call.

"Our closed Facebook groups will be utilised by our regulars and tonight and every Monday the questions will be posted at 7pm.

"They'll be deleted at 9pm so we don't miss anything.

"We will look to do some live videos to help give another platform but at this stage we feel this is the best course of action for everyone involved.

"We appreciate not everyone will understand this but we do hope you'll appreciate the why of it.

"Let's ride this storm together and do all we can self care wise to see it through and get those doors back open."