Covid 19

This page remains live as an edited record of related news throughout the pandemic:  

See Worship at Home and Prayer & Meditation for worship resources

Updates on circuit plan and live church services on Congregations


     You should continue to protect yourself and others.

The course of the disease is not as malignant as earlier.  Keep taking basic precautions such as hand-washing and avoiding crowded, airless places. Start to enjoy living again!

  • Get vaccinated and get your booster dose
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer
  • Get tested and self-isolate if required   
    Feb 22:   still valid May and June 22                                                                                               

Lateral flow tests are very good at detecting people who are currently infectious because there is so much of the virus around at the minute, and there are lots of cases to be spotted.

What is the local picture? 19 January 22

Numbers of COVID-19 cases in Tower Hamlets remain very high but have now started to fall. Over the past week we have seen 3,100 cases compared to 5,300 cases the previous week. There has been a slight drop in admissions to hospital and numbers admitted to intensive care for COVID-19 remain about the same.  The high number of cases means that it remains as important as ever to exercise caution by wearing face masks, getting tested and self-isolating when required.
Residents are continuing to come forward for their COVID-19 vaccination. Last week, 10,000 residents had their next dose.

Tower Hamlets latest 18th Dec 21

Omicron is now spreading rapidly across the country. In London, weekly cases of Covid-19 have increased by 50 per cent. In Tower Hamlets there have been over 2,000 new cases of Covid-19 this week compared to 1,300 the week before. 

Take-up of vaccination has slowed considerably, but infection is still growing and more people each day are being admitted to hospital. Zoe estimates 6,000 new infections in Tower Hamlets very recently!  While we all wish to forget Covid, its continued presence in our lives cannot be ignored.  It will not just go away.  We have to keep working at it and maintaining good hygiene and sensible precautions.30th Oct


This graphic shows quite clearly what wearing a mask does to protect us.
For a highly transmissable variant, this is the argument for continued use of masks in crowded places (such as public transport) even when it is no longer a legal requirement.

June 14th 2021. Delay to save lives.

While the Dela variant continues to spread rapidly, it seems highly inadvisable to unlock restrictions another notch.  In fact, this is criterion no 4 of the conditions for lockdown easing announced in March.  
We'd like to have more people in our congregations, and we'd like to be able to sing, but we do NOT wish to become a hot-house for passing on the virus, NOR do we wish to exclude those who remain unvaccinated.  On-line services will continue for the forseeable future, while attendance at a Covid-restricted live service remains by invitation only (in order to monitor legal numbers.)  

May 17th 2021 restrictions ease

At last we seem to be coming out of the grimness of the past year.


As of the 17th May:

  • We can now meet indoors in groups of up to six or two households, or in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Social distancing guidance is changing and contact with other households (hugging!) is allowed and we can stay overnight at someone's house
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants can serve customers indoors
  • Museums, cinemas, children's play areas, theatres, concert halls, sports stadiums & hotels can all reopen
  • Care homes are now allowed 5 named visitors
  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions and other life events. The number of people who can attend a funeral is no longer capped.
  • Up to 30 allowed to attend a support group or parent-and-child group - not counting under fives

Zacchaeus Project reminds us that Age UK provides a free taxi to your vaccine appointment if needed.    April 2021


As the Circuit considers possibilities alongside re-opening of Churches have another look at the article (below) by Jude Levermore, 12th June 2020Can we 'Build back Better?'  What have we learned of discipleship, and worship, during this long year? 

 The Spirit might be asking us to be brave, to not cling to the old but to be the pilgrim people of the moment  Jude Levermore, Head of Mission for the Methodist Church in Britain, writes of her hopes for how the Church will move forward, by being 'the pilgrim people of the moment.'

When Methodism changed from a connexion of societies to become a denomination or church we began to erect and use separate Methodist buildings which became our churches. Methodism came first, our buildings came second.
  As we begin to think about ‘going back into our buildings’ I am hopeful that we will take time to consider what we have learned from being out of them. I am hopeful that we will have solidified our understanding that church is not a building- we teach that to our children, but do we hold that in our hearts? We, the people are the church, the body of Christ meeting together in community, acting together in mission, longing together for the transformation of our world, responding together to our calling.
I can change
....  I believe the Spirit might be asking us to be brave, to not cling to the old but to be the pilgrim people of the moment. Let’s be a people of vision, let’s not long to get back to normal, let’s see what God might do if we allow ourselves to be led somewhere new.   Let us be generous and gracious to one another, allow different churches and chapels to make the decisions they need to without pressure to get on with the usual, allowing instead time to consider the Spirit.  Let us guard the holy fire, and guard our buildings only as a means of that; let us keep walking the way together, bearing the burden of grief for all that and those which and who have been lost, in love for one another and in service to our world.

What is the latest outlook?    03/03/21

  • People are looking forward to mid-term beacons of hope instead of waiting for the end – as this feels more achievable and tangible, with less chance for disappointment
  • Schools re-opening is the most anticipated milestone for parents struggling to juggle home-schooling with work
  • The vaccine roll-out is progressing more quickly than anticipated, and therefore brings much needed hope, along with spring’s warmer days
  • A significant minority don’t want life to go back to “exactly” how it was – but there are many habits and precautions that are expected to stay for some time to come
  • People have a clear sense of where the Government should focus their efforts in “building back better”, but this is coupled with a strong doubt that these improvements are realistic

  1st March Prime Minister's roadmap - 4 conditions:

4 conditions to easing lockdown

20th February

The COVID Symptom Study has been developed by health science company ZOE. It is endorsed by the Welsh GovernmentNHS Wales, the Scottish Government & NHS Scotland. Data collected is shared with and analysed by King's College London & ZOE research teams.
Findings show several symptoms which are not routinely mentioned on the NHS Covid site.
FATIGUE is most common, reported by 53% of subjects.  Several of the 'minor' symptoms may be present without fever or cough, especially with the newer variants.  Worth checking, if you are under-the-weather.   

Vaccination Question: What is meant by efficacy?   (06/02/21)

vaccine efficacy & umbrellas

12/02  Taxis to get your jab:

Carrot Cars,  0207 005 0557,  offers 25% discount for any journeys to and from London Vaccination centres. Please show the driver the invitation letter from NHS.  (Subject to fair usage and availability)

12th January 2021

Questions and answers about the Inoculations for Covid19  from NHS (Barts Health)  and if you are worrying about putting on a few pounds during lockdown, here is some kindly advice

5th January

As the New Year starts, we are fighting a rising wave of infection in London and in Tower Hamlets.  The hospitals are filling up alarmingly and now the schools are being closed again, too. 

We pray with you that the New Year bring peace into our homes, healing into God’s broken world.

20th December 2020
The government has announced that London has entered tier 4 restrictions from this morning to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Tower Hamlets moves into new, additional coronavirus restrictions  to help combat the spread of the virus in the capital as rates are dangerously high and a new strain is spreading faster than previous strains. These added restrictions are disruptive to both residents and businesses but they are to keep us all safe. 

 Christmas Tidings from the Archbishop of Canterbury  (short, edited extract)

Justin writes: Do not give up hope. ...  If we are feeling vulnerable in our present circumstances, let us not forget that He was born a helpless baby, exposed to all the dangers that threaten the life of a newborn.  In the Gospels, we read of how He brought new life and hope to the hopeless, those who felt rejected, those who felt abandoned.  He was and is with all who suffer, all who are lonely, desperate or afraid. ... This will be a Christmas like no other, but we all have it in our power to defy the darkness and to rejoice in our annual celebration of the birth of our Saviour. ... Every one of us can do something positive to bring the Christmas light to someone less fortunate. ... It is in our power to be a small light to lighten the darkness.   I wish you a happy and blessed Christmas 2020

14th November

Short Extract from Open Letter, from the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum, Mayor John Biggs and the Statutory Deputy Mayor Cabinet Member for Faith Communities:

We know that coming to terms with another lockdown is very difficult for all our communities, and that it will come at a significant cost. Places of worship offer so much to our community: a place of sanctuary and worship, support for some of the most vulnerable in our borough, and a source of community cohesion in difficult times. It is our hope that we can reopen soon by bringing transmission under control during this lockdown. Ensuring everyone follows the guidance carefully will be pivotal in achieving that, and as community leaders you have such a crucial role in this. We would like to commend you for your work so far to support the most vulnerable, to ensure we all stay safe, and to give a message of hope as we get through the next phase of this pandemic. Your continued efforts are critical to all our work to bring this virus under control. 

1st November

The Prime Minister announces a new lock-down for England.
Here we go again

Message  from Mayor Biggs & Tower Hamlets Council:

I want to remind you that while these are tough times, the East End is even tougher. Our communities showed great resilience, courage and camaraderie during the first peak, and I have no doubt we will do so again. As a council, we'll continue to work with our partners across the borough to make sure that our residents, particularly those most vulnerable, are supported. We are posting updates on social media using #TowerHamletsTogether, and we encourage you to do the same to help share positivity.   I urge you to follow the rules and do everything you can to protect yourself and others. Lives are at risk and we all must act now to control the spread of the virus. Equally, please remember to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and stay in touch with your friends, family and neighbours.
We will get through this together. 
Stay safe, 

Mayor Biggs

1st October - Update 
Having thought that there might be light on the horizon, and having begun to plan and execute a slow and safe increase in "things we used to do", we are now met with a substantial rise in the local risk factor. 

1st Sept - Update 

While preparations are being made for a return to the church buildings, services and meetings continue on-line.

25th July - Update

The Circuit Meeting confirmed the decision not to open the churches for worship before September. Complying with all the necessary regulations - not merely for their own sake, but in the interest of protecting everyone - makes the task of opening safely a very difficult one. Your opinions and comments on this are most welcome.  Speak to the Circuit Stewards and Worship Leaders. Start a conversation on the Facebook page; email John for the Newsletter, or contact the Webmaster.  Contacts

11th July - from Circuit Administration

Church buildings across the London Methodist District are unlikely to open for worship before September. Guidance from the Methodist Church following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions on places of worship by the Government is that the decision to re-open a church needs “serious consideration and a thorough understanding of what is required in terms of planning and health and safety requirements”. The Church says there is no compulsion to re-open if managing trustees do not feel it can be done safely, or it is too soon. “It needs to be well planned, both before the opening and kept under review once the building is in use,” says the guidance. “Do not assume that you can immediately do things ‘as you used to do’ … and accept that saying ‘no’, ‘not yet’ or ‘not like this’ can be positive decisions.”

Stitches in Time

Stitches in Time are making and selling face coverings of which any profits  go directly to their FabricWorks makers, who have now lost their income.  "The BAME community in Tower Hamlets was already facing multiple disadvantages before Covid-19, and the virus has had a hugely disproportionate effect. Money raised is also going towards the emergency remote work we are doing to support some of the most vulnerable and isolated in this time of crisis"  

12th June

Coffee Mornings, Bible Study and Prayer Meetings are all continuing in the Circuit.
People get-together to chat, discuss and to pray, without leaving home.  

There's small talk; there's genuine interest in how everyone is getting along;  someone might have a little rant about something that's bothering them; we might think things through or share ideas.  In the study group, there is more serious discussion; in a prayer meeting, there is also prayer!  You can sit and listen; no-one will be made to speak who doesn't want to. You can be a bit fed up or you can bring some small pleasure to share.  You don't have to stay the whole time.  Come and go as you please!

If you don't know how to set up a Zoom call, ask Andrew and he'll explain.  It really is EASY.

Everyone attending the various groups seems to find they feel better for meeting and seeing others.  

This is the social interaction the Church tends to call Fellowship. If you are missing Human Contact - Here it is!

Tuesday: Morning Prayer, 08.00

Wednesday: Circuit Bible Study, 6.15pm
Thursday: Circuit coffee morning, all welcome from 11.00
Saturday: Morning Prayer, 8pm

These will continue while we remain unable to meet in person is a network of over 1000 churches from over 40 denominations  (including the Methodist Church).  They coordinate a UK church response to the Covid-19 crisis working with churches, the Government and the NHS. 

These are well presented and informative.  Have a look?

18th – 24th May 2020 – Mental Health Awareness Week

The special week may have ended, but the ideas behind it remain true.
Perhaps we can begin to look forward to some normality in the coming weeks. 
We are creeping in the right direction, one small step at a time.

The theme this year is kindness.  Never has there seemed a more appropriate theme.  We’ve all seen such amazing acts of kindness during this very difficult and challenging time: The value of kindness is unquantifiable; it can feel really rewarding to put ourselves out a little to help someone else, and receiving kindness from others is special.  In the current circumstances particularly, we should also make sure we are being kind to ourselves. This can be anything from having a nice relaxing bath, listening to favourite music for half an hour, going for a walk and being in nature, writing in a journal, reading, cooking a nice meal.   Another challenge alongside the theme of kindness is to do 30 minutes of movement each day – this could be tidying up your flat or joining the Zacchaeus Pilates zoom session!  Or, if you are able to go out, taking a safe walk and enjoying the sun. The most important thing is to look after ourselves, body and mind, so we can help others too as best we can. I hope you get to give and receive kindness this week. 

Sarah  Band for Life project leader

14th May News From The Zacchaeus Project

The small steps towards easing the lockdown that the government announced earlier this week will have come as welcome news to people.  It’s encouraging that the protective measures being taken  to keep ourselves and others safe have meant that these first steps can now be taken.  Here at The Zacchaeus Project the centre remains closed in line with the government guidelines, but we are continuing to support our members remotely and are still available for advice and guidance, or for a chat.

For those of you who are looking for other practical ways to stay busy, the government is now suggesting that people wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing may not be possible, e.g. public transport and shops (though this is not currently mandatory).  There are plenty of tips available online for making one’s own face covering, including some without any need for sewing. 

12th May The end of the beginning, though not yet the beginning of the end

The freedom to go for a longer walk, outside your own gates, is a welcome start.  On Monday, the queue for the Post Office (which has been empty most of the time for the last weeks) stretched right across Chrisp Street Market Place.  There were no stalls there, to be in the way! Every shop that remains open had a well-spaced queue snaking around outside.  So many who have been unable to go out are emerging into the daylight.  Maybe this limited release will be enough to help us carry on a bit longer.

Bow Food Bank (update 9th May)

The foodbank is working from Bromley-By-Bow Community Centre, St Leonard’s Street, E3 3BT
The local food band is now distributing approximately three times the amount of food and toiletries compared with before the crisis began. This has been possible thanks to the logistical support given by the council, the collaboration with other partners, the generosity of donors, and the ingenuity of different members of the management team in finding sources of bulk supplies. Read more

Six weeks in, it's not easy at all, is it?

 It's really starting to bite. This is what living with long term mental illness can be like; anxious about staying in; anxious about going out; paranoid about people in the street or shops; terrified of illness or death - it's all there, very sobering.  Sarah (Band for Life) recommends less constant exposure to News and worrying discussion, replaced by therapy of doing one nice thing for yourself each day.  Add an extra phone call, email or prayer for someone else's well-being, too?

25th April   

As we enter another week on lockdown, Band for Life members are coping as best they can, but it’s a challenge for everyone to cope with forced isolation.  People are really valuing the support calls Sarah is making, keeping everyone in the loop about each other and making sure people know there is help available.  With people spending a lot of time alone, it can be difficult not to watch the news too much or get drawn into the various theories and debates about how this situation has arisen; so one thing we are trying to do is to encourage people to limit the amount of news we watch and to do one nice thing for ourselves each day, as a way of trying to look after our mental health too, whilst we wash our hands and do all the things we need to protect our physical  health.  One question constantly asked is “when we will be able to do music again”, and the answer is we really don’t know, but we hope that this difficult time will pass soon.

16th April

TSM2The Whitechapel mission is continuing to serve a cooked breakfast to the homeless and hungry every single day. We are seeing many new faces from different parts of London as most other places are now closed. Please will you will hold the staff in your prayers as they are working very hard to meet the needs of our guests. And for the guests themselves, as they cope with the fallout from corona virus lock-down. 

14th April  From the Zacchaeus team:
Our members are taking the government guidelines on board; feedback we’ve had is that although lock down can be frustrating, people appreciate the need to take preventative measures to keep themselves and others safe. Where possible, members are going out for exercise and occasional shopping trips, and we’ve spoken to people unable to leave their homes who are being supported by friends, family and neighbours. Our staff (including volunteers) are keen to help as much as possible, and we encourage people to contact us if they need any help, or just for a chat. We are still supporting people with general advice queries, though at the moment this is via phone or email.

Debbie and Louise are working remotely and can be contacted by email, by the usual phone number, 0208 983 1568, and by text or Whatsapp on 07712 32324.  See Zacchaeus website .

Help when someone dies

When someone you love dies, saying goodbye in some formal way is important.  With the current restrictions on movement in place, it may not be possible to attend a funeral. To help you say your formal goodbyes whilst in your home, see here (link no longer active)

26th March  Contact with the circuit office is now on this number:   07545 445217

25th March 

The Whitechapel Mission has now suspended all volunteering and outside service provision. The current evaluation of risk is that people should not be travelling to the Mission unless absolutely essential.  Food is the highest priority for those sleeping on our streets. Warm clothing, medical attention and support must be sustained as long as possible.

We recognise that we offer services through our projects to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. This means that we will continue to offer reassurance and support through providing our daily breakfast at Whitechapel Mission. Whitechapel Mission is managing to maintain its breakfast service and material support through the commitment and determination of our staff team, for which we continue to give thanks.

The Mission remains Open and Serving

From the Superintendent  (March 25th)
Hello everyone,
Our wonderful Circuit staff team have spent the past 10 days trying to respond and react to a very different pattern of life; one where most of the usual ways of doing things has to be different. One of the hardest challenges is to be separated from people – from those we want to celebrate the joys of life with – from those we want to hug and console at life’s challenges and disappointments. Although the physical separation is very real, it does not mean we have to accept all the limitations. Please use whatever means you can to stay in touch – with our church, with each other and with God. 

You know that, as Paul writes, “ For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-9.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Whatever you do, may your time be blessed with the knowledge that God is with you in Christ Jesus – now and always. Rev'd John

24th March 

Lucia Banks, our new Lay Pastoral Worker, has started Luciawork with us

Lucia is getting in touch with members and friends in the Circuit, focusing her efforts on getting to know the congregations and staff - by phone and video call.  I am you sure you will join me in giving Lucia a really warm welcome.

Grace and Peace  John

  springA reflection from the superintendent minister  (22nd March)

ONE thing we can all do is to continue to pray - pray for our churches, our churches’ work, our families and friends, our neighbours and those who persecute us.  Please take care of yourselves, follow good advice (medical and spiritual!) and let us know if you need help. One thing that almost all of us have, and will have, is access to a phone. At the beginning of Philippians, Paul speaks of being ‘imprisoned for Christ’. Although we are not actually imprisoned,  I am acutely aware of how important physical connection is to us all. It seems as if we will have to live our lives with restrictions and challenges, some of which are like being under house arrest. Perhaps as Christians we will all need to take a lead from Paul’s perseverance and faith and, as we adapt to these new circumstances, my prayer is that we will continue to rejoice, speak with boldness and proclaim Christ with love. – with grace and peace to you all, the Rev'd John Hayes

Announcement from Circuit (17th March 2020)

 (See Methodist website) We are suspending all worship services, groups, meetings and activities where people gather together in our churches.  We shall support people through phone calls and help whilst the suspension remains in place.  Pastoral care will be offered by phone, email and appropriate social media. We encourage everyone to advise us of anyone who needs help, especially the vulnerable or self-isolating. 

Andrew Brown, Circuit Executive Officer.   John Hayes, Superintendent Minister  



Top ^

Charity Number 1134888