Comment by Harborough churches: Pandemic has highlighted Harborough's amazing community spirit

Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week it is the turn of Liz Mills MBE, from the Market Harborough Congregational Church and chair of the Jubilee Foodbank Management Committee

Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:03 pm
Liz Mills MBE, from the Market Harborough Congregational Church and chair of the Jubilee Foodbank Management Committee

Viewpoint by Liz Mills MBE, from the Market Harborough Congregational Church and chair of the Jubilee Foodbank Management Committee

Did you find a painted Easter stone or a bunch of daffodils kindly left on a bench or wall in Market Harborough over the last few weeks? If so, you will have been one of several people blessed by mysterious and invisible donors. Generous people have been leaving small gifts or ‘pocket hugs’ around the country to reach out to those who are feeling low.

Sometimes the people you help, or help you, are distanced and even invisible. You do not see them or meet them, but you know that they are there.

Many of our friends and family have been almost invisible for months. There were times when you may have seen your family on a screen, but it’s not the same. With the return of garden visits and ‘rule of six’, friends and family become physically visible again. It’s a welcome return.

The pandemic’s virus has been described as an invisible enemy. Vaccines, research, distancing and masks have become weapons. There is a side to Harborough that is often invisible to a visitor or tourist. Walking through the main street in Market Harborough, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a town of wealth.

However, there are hidden stories. In the parable of The Good Samaritan, the attacked man lies, visible in the road and was still ignored by two passers-by. In Market Harborough and across the country, people who need help are often invisible, hidden in their home — even more so during the pandemic.

The community in Harborough has reached out to these people. Through social media and taking time to get to know neighbours, many people who may have remained invisible have been helped.

At the Jubilee Foodbank, we see glimpses into these hidden Harborough lives that should, perhaps, be more visible. In the last year, in Harborough, people have been made redundant in a day.

Meanwhile, a couple managed to find a home, but it was empty. There was no bed, no food, no cooker, no plates and no cutlery.

A family’s meals were thrown into doubt because a wage packet was larger than it should have been. Now it must be paid back. There is no money for a packed lunch at school. A father must feed his two children. At short notice, he is their carer this weekend. There is no additional money.

A woman came out of a stay in hospital. There was no money and no food. Another family sold everything they could: side tables, a bike, and a television. Now there is nothing left to sell, and the money just does not go far enough.

What the pandemic has demonstrated is Harborough community’s support for people they do not even know. As we begin to get busier and see more friends, let’s continue to help those neighbours we do not see, as well as those we do. The challenge is to continue to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

Liz Mills MBE, Liz Mills MBE, from the Market Harborough Congregational Church and chair of the Jubilee Foodbank Management Committee