Lancaster church toddler group goes online to carry on during coronavirus pandemic

A toddler group run by a church near Lancaster has taken a novel approach to helping young children and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Thursday, 19th March 2020, 11:43 am
Updated Thursday, 19th March 2020, 1:06 pm
One of the packs put together by the church.
One of the packs put together by the church.

St John’s Church in Ellel have taken their weekly toddler group online to help families keep in touch while they are at home during the Covid-19 crisis.

The church has had to cease all public gatherings, which includes the toddler group which began in November 2017.

Group organisers recognised that they’re not just a group but a community, and instead of stopping their group meetings, they’ve asked, how can we still be a community while we are not able to physically meet together?

Some of the craft packs put together by the church.

Sessions in the run up to Easter had already been planned, so St John’s ordinand (trainee priest) Olivia Haines, who also leads the toddler group, gathered materials and created craft packs for all the activities in the run-up to Easter.

These have included general craft materials and something sweet for the mums to enjoy, as well as emergency contact numbers in case any of the families have to self-isolate.

Further to this, St John’s have set up a Zoom conference call each week, which all group members can join for free.

The first online meet-up on Wednesday was a big success, and mums were able to catch up from the comfort of their own homes with the audio-visual services of the chat.

Ellel St John's Church. Photo: Google Street View

To close, the group enjoyed some story books read over the video call and sang nursery rhymes, just as they would have at church.

"When we think of the isolated, we often think of older people," Olivia said. "Actually, there are lots of mums now isolated at home, with limited opportunities to talk to other adults.

"St John’s is hoping to continue this facility until they are able to provide the real thing once again."