Coronavirus: Help for Mission Workers

by Mike Frith
Posted on 1st April 2020

There is already a plethora of information and advice online for the general public about  COVID-19 and its effects, like for protecting yourself from infection, keeping in touch with family and friends, home working and conducting meetings (including church!). For the purposes of this article we have collected together a range of resources and advice specifically of use to mission workers during this crisis and grouped them under subject heading. We hope that some of this will be helpful to you.

Health

If you are in a place where support and advice is lacking when you get sick, there are, along with all the official health advice online from the UK, a number of health services online which can supplement your support.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/health

Thrive Worldwide has been providing covid-19 health related resources geared for mission workers.
See https://www.thrive-worldwide.org/covid-resources

For remote health support, HealthLink360 have a range of remote services operating.
See https://www.healthlink360.org/services-during-lockdown

Dr Ted Lankester is answering questions via the Arukah Network blog for anyone with concerns about COVID-19 related issues.
See https://www.arukahnetwork.org/post/060420

The NHS will provide free COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment for any mission workers back in the UK.

Travel

If you are still trying to return to the UK from overseas or travel regionally, keep in touch with official information from the FCO about any flights and advice. 
See https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

For any other international travel issues, Key Travel's COVID-19 hub is providing support.
See https://covid19.keytravel.com

If, as the lockdown eases, you need a car temporarily in the UK, Ichthus Motor Services or Syzygy may be able to help.

Quarantine

The general advice seems to be that if you have returned from outside the UK you should quarantine (self-isolate) yourself for 14 days. If you start to show any coronavirus symptoms, you should quarantine yourself at least 14 days from that point.
See https://oscaractive.ning.com/forum/topics/new-coronavirus-challenges-in-mission

UK Accommodation

If you find yourself unexpectedly back in the UK and in need of temporary accommodation, check out OSCAR's directory.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/practical/accommodation/uk-accommodation

Alternatively, add a request for accommodation to our MessageBoard in OSCARactive

Crisis Management

OSCAR's Crisis Management section has links to advice and resources for handling any kind of crisis, including around the topics of risk, health and safety.

Finance

For those on personal support who are registered as self-employed in the UK, the Self-employment Income Support Scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. This may be extended if needed. Also tax payments due on the 31 July 2020 may be deferred until 31 January 2021.
See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses#support-for-self-employed-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

For those employed by a UK organisation (including charities) with a PAYE scheme, the Job Retention Scheme is available for those employers to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
For info on all government finance help during the COVID-19 crisis, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

We would also advise those on personal support to communicate with your supporters to keep them informed of your situation so they can continue to support you in different ways through this time. Some churches are setting up 'covid-19' related financial support schemes so if you are adversely affected financially this may be worth exploring.

Stewardship have collated further advice and resources for Christian workers and those on personal support, so keep an eye on their website.
See https://www.stewardship.org.uk/COVID-19

Insurance

Check your health/travel insurance cover for specifics.

SALT Insurance issued some FAQs for its clients that might also prove useful for others.
See https://www.saltinsurance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Salt-FAQs-Corona-virus-31-March-2020.pdf

Talent Trust Consultants are providing full medical COVID-19 insurance cover and support for its members.
See https://talent-trust.com/documents/News2020.03/covid.htm 

Access Insurance has been providing advice for charities about their insurance, plus they have collated a useful list of financial information and resources for charities.
See https://www.accessinsurance.co.uk/news

Note, as before, that the NHS provides free emergency treatment including COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment for any mission workers back in the UK.

Home Schooling

A big challenge for families is the continuation of schooling for children whilst in isolation. The mission and expat community have been using homeschool resources for years, so you can tap into all of these resources.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/children/childrens-education 

Training & Events

If you are isolated at home, now might be a good time to consider an online course to improve your skills and knowledge.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/training-development

Many mission events and training courses are going online too. OSCAR's events section has an increasing number of them listed.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/events

Here are some useful debriefing resources: https://www.returningwell.com/resources.html

Job Hunting

If you are out of work, want to offer temporary help or if this crisis causes you to change your focus and decide to work in a different area, keep an eye on the various Christian job/opportunity sites for current and emerging roles. 
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/exploring-vocation/vacancy-agents

Pastoral Support

There are many member care, pastoral and counselling services provided online, so don’t suffer in isolation if you need outside support.
See https://www.oscar.org.uk/resources/pastoral-spiritual 

This special COVID-19 edition of the Spiritual First Aid Manual is FREE: https://www.spiritualfirstaidhub.com

OSCARactive: A Community of Mission Workers

You can interact with over 700 people through OSCAR’s newly updated online community, OSCARactive, so you should never feel alone or without advice about your particular mission-related challenges. 
See https://oscaractive.ning.com

Pray

Operation World are adding urgent COVID-related prayers to their website so all can intercess for the nations on this issue.
See http://covid-19.operationworld.org

Global Connections World Prayer News includes prayer requests from mission organisations, many of which in recent days have been about the coronavirus.
See https://www.globalconnections.org.uk/prayer

SIM have produced a helpful sheet of 10 prayer points to use during the crisis.
See https://www.sim.co.uk/sites/default/files/content/%23PraytoEndCOVID19%20Prayer%20Points.pdf

CMF have produced a 7 day guide to help pray for healthcare workers.
See http://admin.cmf.org.uk/pdf/CMF-healthcare_worker_prayer_guidef.pdf 

Keep Serving

This helpful article gives some pointers about how we can continue to serve in a pandemic.
See https://www.chinasource.org/resource-library/chinasource-blog-posts/serving-effectively-in-the-face-of-a-pandemic

Revised and expanded 29/04/20

Mike Frith is the Founding Director of OSCAR. Prior to starting OSCAR, he worked as a pilot/engineer with Mission Aviation Fellowship where he spent time living in the USA, France, Switzerland, Madagascar and Uganda. He has been involved in working with, supporting, training and resourcing cross-cultural workers for over 25 years. He is married to Cheryl and they have two grown up children, Joanna and Will.