Chris Mountford speaks with Darren Tosh, who is the UK executive director of Samaritans Purse, about the £194,000 worth of PPE kits they have released for essential church and charity workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Mountford
Chris Mountford

Chris: Tell us about these PPE kits that you've got.

Darren: Samaritan's Purse does disaster relief around the world and over the years we've had to develop some very good supply chains. And seeing there is such a critical need for PPE in the UK in particular and recognising that the church and Christian charities are doing so much essential work right now, caring for people that are in isolation, running hospices and food banks etc, we said let's open up that supply chain and bring some essential goods into the UK to protect those workers and embolden them to be doing more. This is a real opportunity for the church to be meeting needs and coming into relationship in new ways in their communities. So we have kits being made up that have essential equipment including masks and gloves and sanitizers that are being made available for churches and charities that can put them to good use.

Chris: As you mentioned, there has been a stretch in supply of PPE kits. Are these being made freely available to churches and charities and organisation?

Darren: Yes, it's through an application process through the Samarian's Purse UK website. It's a finite supply so we have to go through an application process to make sure we are getting the goods to those who truly need them the most. We only launched the process a couple of days ago and we have started to see some applications come in so I would encourage anyone listening whose church is doing some ministry to the elderly, to those who are vulnerable to take a look at the website. We've intentionally made it as simple as possible for people to apply for one of the kits and we will send that out free of charge as just part of our ministry to enable another ministry to do great things. On top of the kits we have also offered some small grants because there are a lot of great things that all churches are doing but if they just had a bit more money they could be doing that much more in their communities. So there are also applications for small grants through that same website.

Chris: Can you give us the address of the website?

Darren: Sure, it's and you'll find the This is Love link - the project is called This is Love. We want to enable and equip and protect our churches and essential workers as much as we can. And we want to get this done quickly as well because we recognise that there are needs that need to be met today and in many ways our churches and our Christian community can be meeting those needs.

Chris: Sure. Let's talk about the work of Samaritan's Purse internationally because Samaritan's Purse has been setting up emergency field hospitals to help treat Covid 19 patients in Italy and the US. Can you tell me about that?

Darren: We have two field hospitals; the first was in Cremona, Italy. You might have seen some of the reports from that part of Italy where the hospitals were completely overrun. The hospital in Cremona was a 600-bed hospital. 500 of those beds were filled with corona virus patients and of those 500 patients, 100 were their own medical staff. Working with the Italian government and the World Health Organisation we offered one of our field hospitals and we set it up on the site of the hospital and we started taking patients. It was a 68-bed hospital and it turned into a respiratory care unit. We've been treating patients in Italy for a month now. In the middle of New York City, in Central park, we set up another equivalent facility working with Mount Sinai Hospital. Since then other hospitals have asked us to help them as well. We set up two more smaller units at Beth Israel and inside Mount Sinai Hospital itself. Those two projects continue. We're doing our best to send staff out of the UK into Italy and it's been a tremendous ministry. We've been able to not only physically save lives but we've amazing staff who are able to communicate a message of hope and care and love. It's been a really valuable and impactful time for our teams in Italy in particular.

Chris: That's absolutely fantastic. And it's in a year when Samaritan's Purse is celebrating its 50th anniversary as well, a milestone anniversary for the charity.

Darren: Yes, we've grown a lot as a charity but over those 50 years we've always been about equipping the Good Samaritan. In this case, in the UK, we recognise that there are so many Good Samaritans already doing amazing things through the churches and through Christian organisations. As a charity, we do everything in Jesus name and where we can be equipping those Good Samaritans to be doing more that's our calling and that's our passion. It's an exciting opportunity to be serving here and we would invite others to serve with us. We're always looking for people who can be working overseas and joining these disaster deployments like the one in Italy. So if there is anyone listening who has an interest in joining in this type of ministry they can go through the Samaritan's Purse website to join and work with us overseas.

Chris: That's amazing. Darren, thank you so much. Once again the PPE kits and the small grants are available and you can go through a simple application process on the Samaritan's Purse UK website. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.