Monday, 23 March 2020 will be forever remembered for the beginning of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. One year on and we can still see the impact on every part of Scottish society; the health, economic, educational and social challenges to our families, communities and nation continues to be severe. It has been a tragic and painful year. 

And yet this is a story not without hope. When Scotland went into lockdown, local churches began to see and respond to needs in their communities. In more than 180 locations, often in partnership with others, support networks were drawn up and projects were established to support the most vulnerable and isolated. Existing services were re-purposed and staff­ and volunteers redeployed. New projects started to deliver food, phone the elderly and isolated, support those homeless or claiming asylum, and connect with children and young people who were struggling with their mental health. 

For many, these services were literally a lifeline – often the only contact in a day when all other normal support networks and buildings were closed. The church has been a beacon of hope in a time of crisis. The Stories of Hope report tells that story. One that has been replicated in communities across Scotland from Dornoch to Dumfries and Glenelg to Glasgow. A story that has seen almost 100 projects bringing together more than 3,000 volunteers to deliver between them more than 200,000 individual acts of support. Truly 200,000 stories of hope.

We are grateful to Jeremy Balfour MSP for bringing forward tonight’s debate. As we rightly reflect today on all that has been lost over this past year we also remember with gratitude all those who have volunteered their time and talents to serve others and to provide support and hope during this most difficult of years.

You can find the full Stories of Hope report below.

Stories of Hope Scotland

Stories of Hope Scotland

The Stories of Hope report shows the huge impact churches have had in delivering support and responding to the needs of their communities during lockdown Find out more

Headline impacts

  • 212,214 individual acts of support
  • 55,671 beneficiaries
  • 3,212 volunteers and staff
  • 89 projects
  • 181 locations


This report was developed as a result of dialogue with the Scottish Government to understand the impact of the pandemic on churches and their activities. Between May and July 2020 the Evangelical Alliance ran an online survey to understand church-based projects taking place across Scotland. Full details can be found within the report and specific project information is available on request.

"I contracted coronavirus in March and took it very badly, ending up in hospital. When I was discharged, I was referred to the local church to get help from their free food delivery service. I don’t have the internet at home and even now still don’t have the strength to carry shopping home myself. I live on my own so this service has been a lifeline for me. As well as the food support I’ve been able to phone someone from the project every day for a chat, and they have been able to help me with some of my other mental and physical health struggles. People have often mistaken me for being in my sixties, but now I’m told I look more like my true age of 46. My physical and mental health have improved so much, and I’m now trying to give up smoking. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without the church this year, and I now consider them to be friends."
Carol's Story, Dumfries


One of the key features identified in the response was the level of partnership between churches from different traditions, wider community groups and local statutory agencies. Supermarkets, community councils, businesses, NHS boards, housing associations, voluntary support groups and foodbanks have all worked with churches on the ground in these projects. In addition, 11 local authorities were identified, sometimes by multiple projects, as providing emergency funding for weekly support costs. Two thirds of projects (65) were in partnership with at least one other organisation, with 234 additional groups listed beyond any churches involved. Almost half (42) mentioned partnership with non-church based community groups, with nearly a quarter (21) listing their local authority as a direct partner.

"When lockdown began, Vine Church saw a need in the community to create a project that would provide 100 meals a day, seven days a week, ensuring that no one would have to go without a good meal every day. They gathered a group of 25 volunteers from both the church and the wider community, who gave their time to enable the project to thrive throughout lockdown. The church received referrals from various community groups in the local area, as well as from headteachers, social workers, the local addiction service, criminal justice and social work units, and various youth projects. By partnering with such a wide group of agencies, they were able to reach the most vulnerable in the area, maximising the impact and number of people who were able to receive support. This all required huge effort, but many people benefitted from the care and thoughtfulness of the collaboration between the church, community, and government and council agencies."
Vine Church, Dunfermline

Partnership working

  • 234 unique partnership organisations
  • 65 partnerships with at least one additional organisation
  • 21 partnerships with local authorities
  • 42 partnerships with non-church community groups

Looking ahead

Stories of Hope has shown a remarkable story of the church in action in Scotland despite the restrictions of lockdown. It has highlighted how the church has been a cornerstone of community response, with local authorities and community groups seeking partnership in a time of crisis. It has revealed what is possible when the resources of the church are harnessed and released for the good of the community. It has demonstrated the value of the Christian community as a force for good in today’s Scotland and as an indispensable partner to government in the work of social renewal.

This year has also shown a fresh way for the church to live out its faith and work with others to see Scotland flourish, and the opportunities that exist to partner with others to meet local need. It is important that these lessons are learned as Scotland continues to move through the pandemic.

For more information about any aspect of the report, or for further information on projects within your constituency or region, please get in touch.

Kieran Turner
Public policy officer — Scotland
Evangelical Alliance — eauk​.org
Mobile: 07825 214 874

Email: k.​turner@​eauk.​org

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