Seriously Troubling Times

By Alastair Reid, Chair, CWC

Life is always unpredictable but there are elements of stability which we rely on and make our lives that bit more manageable.

It is hardly a surprise that the situation in Ukraine would have far reaching effects. We’ve experienced the immediate effects on fuel, we are now beginning to see further ramifications of shortages. There are impacts on our basics such as wheat, we import 25% of our requirements from Ukraine and we are seeing shortages of other categories such as vegetable oil.  

It’s also not a surprise about the general increase in prices. In this mix we are all aware of the impact of the huge, not gradual, leap in home energy costs. For some these changes can be budgeted for and accommodated for by adjustments in discretionary spending. This still has an impact on the wider economy as it results, in the main, in reduced spending in other areas, which affects businesses and consequently, employment. 

There are many and I think its the majority of individuals and families who do not have the resources to manage these increases in this way. My family were poor, there was always food but we all knew that money was extremely tight and it wasn’t unusual to hear that the housekeeping for the week had been used up by Thursday. We managed. Later in life I developed health problems which meant I couldn’t work productively and my business folded. Fortunately my wife was working and we managed. This latter event was an eye opener in many ways, but it was particularly in the realisation of the stress my parents must have been under in the early years of our family. 

It seems our politicians have no conception of the way most people manage financially. It also appears they have no idea of the effects of sudden and/or rapid cost increases. They again appear not to have any idea of what its like to have to choose between cooking, heating, buying food, paying the rent, mortgage, credit cards etc. And, with the real possibility of homelessness persistently looming despite best efforts and application for some. 

Despite popular myth, most people want to work. Most people want a little enjoyment from life and a small financial buffer to allow some modest discretionary spending and work hard to achieve these. 

My personal impression was that the UK economy was in fairly robust shape despite Covid and exiting the EU. My impression now is that the economy is now much more fragile. The effect on the majority of businesses, regardless of sector is becoming noticeable. As said this will affect existing jobs and impact on future job growth. The consequent stress on employees, owners, directors will range from noticeable to very significant. There will be impacts on physical and mental health. More, again as said, will find it hard to maintain rents, mortgages and other financial commitments. 

Workplace Chaplains will be needed more than ever.

How was it for you?

By Canon Professor Clive Morton, Vice Chair (Peterborough) CWC
 
As I write this we have had an announcement from the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, proclaiming the end of Covid restrictions with an aspiration of ‘returning to normal’. A time for celebration, wariness or reflection? Probably all three!

CWC trustees have been discussing how we can capture experience and learn from the last two years of pandemic and how the pandemic has affected the work of chaplains. It is clear that all chaplains have had to adapt to new ways of working – often with workplaces shut and many employees working from home, imaginative ideas and practices have emerged to enable chaplains to keep in touch with colleagues and employees. CWC mounted a help line for chaplains and employees to keep in touch, and in keeping with most of the solutions devised, communications went digital. Who had ever heard of Zoom or Teams before 2020?

CWC is not the only chaplaincy organisation that is reflecting on the last two years’ experience. In January more than 120 people involved in chaplaincy gathered from across Baptist Together for an online chaplains’ day. Every chaplaincy sector was represented, from health, prisons and higher education, to the military, police, sport and other workplace settings.

In the first session, nine chaplains shared two-minute stories of what and how they had seen God at work in the recent season. Time was then spent in small groups in breakout rooms, listening to the stories of chaplaincy colleagues and praying for each other. In an evening session, Rosa Hunt, co-principal of Cardiff Baptist College, gave a keynote address on “Desire and disorientation”. This explored those moments when the innate spirituality of people becomes apparent even in what might otherwise be considered secular space.

This news of chaplains getting together to reflect on the last two years is encouraging, because your trustees have been planning an online symposium for chaplains in the Eastern Region for May 2022 with Rev Dr Andrew Todd (Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Theological Federation) to address two important questions for chaplaincy:

  • What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on chaplaincy in the region?
  • How has chaplaincy adapted in the light of the pandemic, including in innovative ways?

This will be an opportunity for all those involved in chaplaincy in the region to meet together, to share insights arising from the last two years, support each other, and to learn how these insights might shape the future development of chaplaincy.

So, please watch this space – we will be publishing more details on the symposium as planning develops, and if you have ideas on the formation of this day and topics to be covered, please do say!
 
Canon Professor Clive Morton, Vice Chair (Peterborough) CWC

Seeking Validation at Work

By Revd. Mary Hanna, CWC
 
It is a basic need for all of us in the workplace that we feel appreciated for what we do. Much stress at work arises out of staff feeling undervalued leading to a belief that what they do is of no importance. This affects self -worth and ultimately well-being.
 
As I reflect on the role of chaplains in the workplace, I am aware of how small our presence is in relation to the size of the organisations which host us. Our role is unique but frequently not well understood in the secular environment of the workplace. Chaplains too needs to feel validated in their role, to feel part of a wider team with all the social and psychological benefits that this confers. There are advantages for chaplains ‘working on the edges and margins’, to quote Woodward, but this can also be a lonely place to reside. So how do we ensure our role is understood and that our value is recognised?
 
Whenever possible we should link into our organisation’s human resources and wellbeing support services in order that our presence is highlighted and our roles and the benefits, we can confer to the workplace are better understood. Having a visible presence amongst staff and patients/service users will help ensure that we are in tune with changes and concerns ad that we are accessible.
 
 Of equal importance is to make opportunities to meet up with fellow chaplains in order to offer mutual support and to learn from one another. There are also numerous training and meetings where links can be established with colleagues. For those working in healthcare, the College of Health care Chaplains (CHCC) offers membership, courses and journals. There is also an annual 2/3-day conference: www.healthcarechaplains.org
For those working in mental health, there is the National Spirituality and Mental health Forum (NSMHF) for all practitioners and service users. www.spiritualitymentalhealth.org
 
Locally Cambridgeshire Workplace chaplaincy offers a monthly opportunity via zoom to link in with us and other chaplains. (See the link below in our newsletter). Your feedback as to how we can best support you will be invaluable to us in seeing to meet your needs.  
 
Revd. Mary Hanna, Trustee, CWC

Unconditional Support

By Revd. Michael Page CWC
 
A few days ago I was involved, on behalf of a charity where I am a trustee, in a conversation with another charity. The conversation was about looking at ways of working together in order to operate more efficiently for the benefit of those we all want to help. The sticking point was around the fact that the charity I represented has a faith basis whilst the other one is strongly secular.

We went back and forth for some time trying to understand where each side was finding difficulty until it dawned on me that our friends were concerned that our faith basis meant that our goal was getting others to adopt our way of believing, whereas we saw our faith basis as simply being the reason why we wanted to offer help. Once we were able to reassure them on that point, and by changing a couple of words in a draft statement of intest, we rapidly made progress.

When I was working as a prison chaplain I would occasionally be rebuffed with something along the lines of: “I’m not interested in religion” (although the words were not usually as mild as that!). I would then explain that my role was mainly about making sure that a person was OK and that they knew how to make contact with family or gain access to healthcare or were not retreating into themselves or any of the host of challenges that somebody serving a prison sentence might face during their time inside.

Even though I didn’t wear a clerical collar or any of the other external signs of the clergy, it was the very name ‘chaplain’ that created a barrier towards understanding the kind of support I might be able to offer.

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” And the question I have been asking myself is whether ‘chaplain’ is a helpful title to give to the people who carry out the broad sweep of supportive work that we know chaplains are often engaged in?

Over recent years I have heard of a number of organisations in the public sector and the business world that have dismissed or rejected support or services from any group that seems to have a faith dimension at its heart. What has happened to have caused those organisations to have such a negative response to any offers to help?

Whilst there may be all sorts of reasons for such a response, perhaps – just like the conversation I described – at the heart of the problem is the mismatch between perception and reality. We say: “We’re the church – or mosque or gudwara or temple – and we’d like to help.” They hear: “We’re the, whatever, and in exchange for some support we want you to adopt our beliefs.”

Somehow, we have to demonstrate that our support and help is unconditional. At the height of the pandemic, people of goodwill – of all faiths, and none – freely offered all sorts of help as a gift to their neighbours. And that help was gratefully received.

As a nation, we are in the middle of preparations for Christmas. The reality of Christmas can be very different from the way it might be presented in tv adverts or glossy magazines. For some, it’s an opportunity to meet with friends and family; for others, Christmas underlines their sense of loneliness. For some, it’s an excuse to indulge to excess, for others the empty cupboard has an even hollower echo.

For some, there will be gifts galore, for others there will be nothing,
For the Christian, the season of Advent has just started. It is also about preparing for Christmas. But this preparation is not about frantic buying and overindulging. Rather it is about expectant waiting. Waiting for a gift. We don’t know what the gift will truly look like nor how it will affect us. But it will be freely offered, with no strings attached.

As people of faith, and in our roles as chaplains, we have a part to play in sharing this gift – of a full and worthwhile life – with those around us, freely, unconditionally, with no expectation of any reward for doing so. There may be difficulties, people may misunderstand our motives. But let’s not be discouraged.

May this Christmas time present an opportunity to draw a challenging year to an end and space to anticipate what lies before you.
 
Revd. Michael Page, Trustee, CWC

Humans and Resilience

By Alastair Reid, CWC
 
Apparently September has been one of the warmest since records began, thank goodness after a disappointing August. Now we’re dealing with the stark complications caused by political dogma and intransigence in dealing with, among other issues, the supply chain.

I spoke about pressure and stress last time, pressure and stress are part of the human condition. Where these cause issues are where we don’t have the available resources to enable us to cope.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused /revealed mental health issues in an unusually stark way. Thank goodness we, as a culture, are beginning to be more comfortable in talking about this, I say beginning advisedly, as we have millennia of prejudicial attitudes to overcome.

Humanity is essentially a resilient and creative species, a species that wouldn’t be populating the planet otherwise. Homo Sapiens have evolved over millions of years, adjusting with the planet as it evolved, working out the best ways of surviving on a day to day basis. It could be argued that the rate of change has accelerated during the last two hundred years or so, however, this outline form of change shouldn’t be confused with evolution. Perhaps a better word might be development – this development being very location specific.

We may be developed in many ways, however, humanity is relatively undeveloped when considering its response ability to some events, especially when these are threatening, especially life/species threatening. The essential life preserving response mechanisms are, for want of a better word, basic and  are dependent for effectiveness on many factors, such as needing good physical and mental health and needing resilience.

In the developed state which I’ve tried to describe, humanity has needed other response mechanisms, and the pandemic has exposed/highlighted mental health issues and consequences. Recognising and learning how to create resilience has only recently started to be discussed. It is important the two are not confused.

How does this translate into our work supporting the Workplace? It’s important we recognise and understand the difficulties and consequences that have and are being experienced and how and where we can be most effective.

We’re in direct contact with employees, employers and the self employed. We hear their concerns, we hear about when they can’t cope, we hear about when they collapse as a result of the pressures they have experienced. Fortunately, due to this more open culture, more personal accounts and honesty about health – much more than in the recent past where most of this would never have been admitted. Progress has been made but there is still a long way to go to change mindsets.

CWC’s body of knowledge enables us to engage with the emerging challenges of, for example, employers and hybrid working. We constantly seek to find ways of engaging with and helping our significant numbers of self employed. Our Workplace Wellbeing Hub has been a universal hit with whoever has seen it, we can all help in actively promoting this.

Our chaplains continue to give the care and compassion needed, sometimes at great emotional cost to themselves. They have been and continue to be under significant pressure, for which they have our total support.

There are interesting times ahead, the workplace could be better for many, work life balance should be encouraged to be more balanced, organisations will I’m sure see the overall benefits, but vigilance about mental health is very important.  
  
Alastair Ure Reid, Chair CWC

Online seminars and workshops:

Wellbeing topics, reflection, chaplaincy and more…


Here is a selection of online events (July – autumn) that we spotted are coming up which may interest supporters and Chaplains alike; covering a range of topics relevant to work, spirituality and more.

Ageing and spirituality  
3rd July (there is a registration fee to attend)

Faced with the norm of seeing ageing as despair and fragility, we explore ageing as a source of wisdom, joy and growth through Spirituality.

Lighting up eternity in the midst of work and life 
5th July (small charge to attend)

A time of visual and verbal reflection based on the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh. This lunchtime event will be accessible to Christians of all denominations and to people of all faiths and none.

Can we overcome rhetoric and address the tensions of workplace wellbeing? 
6th July (free to attend)

This webinar will pose several questions – such as: Are you a wellbeing donkey? Or is your work becoming more of a health burden? In the webinar we will explore what is wellbeing, can it be measured and better understood? What research is taking place to fully understand workload pressures and how these effect our mental, and physical wellbeing?

Safeguarding Adults – Strengthening Faith Institutions
6th July
Strengthening Faith Institutions is running online training on Tuesday 6 July on ‘Safeguarding Adults: An Introduction’.  The webinar runs from 3pm to 4pm.

Listen to the World Open Mic Night
6th July

St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is hosting an Open Mic event on Tuesday 6 July on ‘Listen to the World’.  It will be an evening where the musical traditions and talents of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers find a home among local artists. It is being held from 6.30pm to 8.00pm. For more information, contact Jo Winsloe Slater at jowinsloe@stethelburgas.org or register in advance here

Neurodiversity in the Workplace. 
8th July (free to attend)

A virtual webinar event for professionals looking to understand more about Neurodiversity in the workplace. The term Neurodiversity encompasses (among others) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s and Tourette ’s syndrome. In the workplace, often there is a fear and stigma about employees whose brains work differently which does nothing to help the employee or employer. In this webinar we will review the key aspects and best-practice regarding disability discrimination.

Self-care for staff and volunteers 
13th July and other dates available, usually one per month (free to attend)

It is essential that as a volunteer, you are putting the same care and love towards yourself as you would towards the programs you serve. Join this monthly session to hear how others are managing under pressure and, if you wish, share your stories. Hear some tips and strategies for Self-Care from a trained counsellor, with opportunities for further support if you need it.

Returning to the workplace – employee wellbeing 
14th July (free to attend)

As restrictions are starting to ease many of us will be swapping our home offices, kitchen tables, trackies and slippers and returning to workplaces over the coming months. If you have been working from home, or managing staff who will going back to the workplace it can feel like a big change and for many a daunting challenge, it may well be very different from what you previously experienced. In this session we will be sharing some practices that may help you with upcoming transitions.

Bereavement Friendly Church  
14th July (free to attend)

Run by Ataloss.org this session helps individuals and religious leaders consider accessibility to the many bereaved people in their communities. The learning from this webinar can be applied to chaplaincy such as in prisons, hospitals and Universities/colleges.

Hannah Malcolm – ‘Grief and Courage in a Dying World’
15 July (free to attend)

Hannah Malcolm is currently training for ordained ministry and writing a PhD on theology, climate and ecological grief. She campaigns around the subject of climate justice and recently edited a book entitled Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church (SCM Press, 2020). This event is part of Heaven & Earth at Ely Cathedral Tickets are free, but please book a place here. If you can’t join us in person, the talk will be live streamed.

Meditation in the Christian tradition – weekly practice sessions 
Saturdays, weekly (free to attend)

Meditation in the Christian tradition is a very ancient and very simple way of prayer. It is a way of being fully present to the gift of our life, each other and God. It’s about establishing peace in ourselves so we can be places of peace in the world. Each session will involve a short talk, a period of silent meditation practice and an opportunity questions and conversation.Happy people – healthy workplaces 
24th August (free to attend)

Organised by Workplace Chaplaincy Scotland this seminar will help you to consider the ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ of engaging with wellbeing in the workplace. ‘Why’ explores how happy employees benefit the workforce and the ‘How’ explores the role of senior managers and line management in enabling a happy environment.

What is Mindfulness? Buddhist Roots of a Modern Movement 
14th October (£17 to attend)

This two-hour talk will cover the fascinating roots of mindfulness. Mindfulness is used widely in the world today. But, how did these practices come about? Mindfulness is useful everywhere, so the Buddha said. Using Early Buddhist Texts, this session will focus on the Buddhist foundations of Mindfulness. 

Chaplaincy and Contemporary Spirituality

I was privileged on behalf of CWC to join a Zoom Chaplaincy Conference in November run by Norwich Chaplaincy with the above title. It was led by Rev Dr Andrew Todd, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology, Anglia Ruskin University.

I found it challenging on the role of chaplaincy and very relevant to today’s situation, so thought the essence worth sharing with you.

Andrew started the session with a sketch picture of the contemporary view of ‘spirituality’ – of how the population might see it or desire it – “the basic human capacity for transcendence….towards the horizon of ultimate value” (Sandra Schneiders ‘Approaches to the study of Christian Spirituality’)

Human experience might come from an increasing variety of sources:

  • From traditional religion
  • Be connected with ‘place’ eg. St Ninian’s cave, Galloway; Skara Brae, Orkney
  • From ‘New Age’ or ’alternative’ spiritualities
  • Arising in popular culture eg. Ianto’s Shrine, Cardiff Bay
  • Interwoven with consumerism eg. shop called ‘Rituals’ at St Pancras Station
  • Marking life events: eg. relationship: commitment, or death: increase in flowers at the roadside: the ‘Diana’ effect.

Chaplaincy needs to recognise the innate desire for spirituality, not necessarily connected with religion. This is recognised and integrated in statements of purpose in our chaplaincies eg

‘Listening to the patient’s experience and the questions that may arise; affirming the patient’s humanity; protecting the patient’s dignity, self-worth and identity….’ (NICE, 2004)

These developments mean that there is a challenge to traditional religions that demand conformity to a ‘higher truth’ as opposed to those that engage with the depths of personal experience. Not ‘affiliation’ but ‘connection’.

Andrew then developed the theme on contemporary and traditional spirituality by growth of ‘intersections’ such as:

Mindfulness; Contemplative Prayer; Contemplation; Transcending the self, leading to the contrasting religious approaches of ‘Solid Modernity’ and ‘Liquid Modernity’ (Bauman, Zygmunt, ‘Liquid Modernity, Cambridge Polity Press 2000)

The pandemic has accelerated many of the features of ‘Liquid Modernity’ into current faith practice:

  • Livestreamed worship
  • Zoom meditation
  • Zoom coffee/sherry
  • Fellowship Groups
  • Taize livestreamed prayer
  • ‘Connected’ communities – more connected via Zoom than returning to socially-distanced worship?

These themes were brought together to provide the challenge to chaplaincy today:

Chaplaincy can be seen as occupying the space between a ‘Faith Community’ and ‘The Organisation’ within the overall envelope of ‘Society’.

Society contributes Public norms and Cultural values and practices.

Chaplaincy has to deal with some big challenges which our readers will recognise:

  • Understanding (setting, faith community, society)
  • Translating, being bilingual, doing dialogue
  • Working with expectations
  • Knowing how to care, nurture the sacred in diverse secular contexts
  • Living on, crossing and subverting boundaries
  • Living at the intersections of religion, spirituality and the secular
  • Holding, enabling and shaping

When looking at the theological implications of chaplaincy today, Andrew summarised with the following:

  • God’s presence and action in the world – God present and active in contemporary spirituality
  • Missio Dei and the dynamics of mission
  • Theology of dialogue (as part of mission)
  • Ecclesiology – is chaplaincy marginal or central?
  • Discipleship – formation for what?…in what?
  • Ministry – building up the church and service of the world

I hope these snippets will provoke some thought and challenges from our readers, and no doubt Andrew will be interested in such outcome!

Should you wish to delve further into the much longer material and references Andrew has discovered in his research then CWC can make the necessary connections.

Canon Professor Clive Morton OBE, Vice-Chairman. CWC

The Past is a Different Country

Today, as November ends and December begins, across the UK the numbers of people affected by COVID19 have been rising dramatically. Even now, we are hoping the recent lockdown may have slowed the spread of the virus. While the emergence of possible vaccines is giving us some cautious reason for optimism, we know that it will be a long time before we are out of the woods. The situation in Cambridgeshire is a microcosm of the national picture.

We’ve heard about the different areas of life in our county: hospitals – especially intensive care units – in danger of being overwhelmed; schools constantly having to reorganise their ways of working; some businesses facing imminent insolvency or bankruptcy with employees being made redundant whilst others are so busy that they don’t have time to think; prisoners being locked up almost around the clock; police officers trying to understand and implement frequently changing regulations; and local government officials battling with ever increasing demands on rapidly dwindling resources. And there will be others known to each one of us.

Although the present circumstances are unprecedented in our recent history, it is times of stress and trauma that underline the need for someone who can be ‘present’ for those who are struggling with the pressures of life; someone who can offer listening ears and words of encouragement and guidance. And that, surely, is what the ministry of chaplaincy has always been about?

How can those who are chaplains fulfil that ministry when the pressures on host organisations are so great, and not just financial pressures, although those will be a factor. There are so many challenges for chaplains who want to walk alongside those in the various workplaces where they have a role. But it is not something that is easy to do at the moment, when people have to socially distance and wear masks that muffle their voices. You can’t have a confidential discussion with someone when you have to shout through a face covering to someone who is six feet away.

It seems as though the pressure on government to ‘move things on’ has been amplified because of the desire to be able to celebrate Christmas in some sort of traditional fashion. But, deep down, probably most of us realise that there will be no return to that which was there before. In the notable opening words of (one-time Peterborough resident) L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between:

‘The past is a different country: they do things differently there.’

L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between

The normal in future is going to be very different to the way it was.

Over the past few months many people will have started to interact with their doctor, their supermarket, their bank, their children’s school, even their place of faith or worship, via the medium of the internet. However, even as these interactions take place, there is a recognition that there is something missing. No matter how good our electronic device nor how fast our broadband connection is, there is something of the muffled shouting through a face covering about it. We are rediscovering that it is the personal contact, the soothing voice, the fleeting smile, the gentle touch on the arm, that makes all the difference.

Today, as November ends and December begins, we are starting the season of Advent. Contrary to popular belief, Advent is not about putting up the Christmas decorations and opening calendars to find bits of chocolate. For Christians, Advent is a time for anticipating Christ’s return to earth, for desiring an immanent God to be present in this corner of creation.

The great German theologian Dietrich Boenhoffer, who was tortured and died in a Nazi concentration camp for speaking out against Hitler’s horrors, said that “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”

If there ever was a time for people to be troubled in soul and to know themselves to be poor and imperfect it is now. But Advent is also surely the time for us to sing:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

A prayer: Almighty God – we hold before you at this Advent season those who hold roles as chaplains in our county; those whose desire it is to walk alongside people with a whole variety of needs. Compassionate God, may our chaplains be aware of your firm and constant embrace as they minister to those they stand with at this difficult time. Amen.

(Photo by Smart on Unsplash)

The Place where I work…

It sounds simple enough. The place where I work. My workplace.

We used to say this in a matter of fact statement in a conversation, and often it involved a physical description; a description of an organisation, based in a town, a specific industry, business park or office perhaps.

Of course, if you’re working in healthcare, or retail or perhaps education your workplace is still the same physical place; albeit with many modifications and possibly some virtual existence too.

But living through Covid-19 is showing how everything has been shaken up like a pair of dice, then thrown in the air whilst we all look around at where the dice have landed! Some of us are struggling with the constant uncertainty – it’s completely normal to feel like that as humans need some certainty.

Recently at CWC we have been discussing the need for interactions with others and how the changing dimensions of a ‘workplace’ is affecting so many people. If the workplace is now as varied as kitchens, offices, living rooms, co-working spaces, shops and factories then how do we ensure employees and the self employed are best served emotionally? How do workplace chaplains respond and adapt to this? This is a key area we are considering and discussing with chaplains to ensure CWC can support them as best we can.

Boundaries for comfort

Whatever your personal circumstances; it’s important to create boundaries that comfort and support our emotional, physical, spiritual and practical needs during these times – wherever our place of work may be.

How do we separate work (paid and unpaid) and home life? I know of some friends who are working from home but have a ‘commute’ to help get them in the mode for the working day, it could be a walk that is equal to a (previous) commute or it could be a different morning ritual to nourish and separate home from work.

I recently read 7 great tips that many of us can try, whatever your circumstances. I hope you may find some of these useful:

  1. Plan ahead – plan out your week and days so you can see where you need to divide up time for things to replenish you. It could be a lunchtime walk or set breaks every 30 minutes if you’re working at a desk. Work with your other household members so that everyone knows how the week is looking for you all.
  2. Routine – It sounds boring but these strange times mean your mind will be craving routine when life around us feels so uncertain – these boundaries will help you feel more organised and give structure to your week
  3. Maximise your outside allowance – we all know time outside is important and never more so than now. Whatever you can manage outside will boost your overall health and wellbeing, even if you can only fit in a quick walk round the block.
  4. Learn to switch off – make food breaks the time to switch off or hide your phone/laptop to aid you switching off. Go for a walk. Plan something nice for the evening like a social call or a hobby. Talk through your day with someone to help you process your day.
  5. Make time off sacred – whether you have a morning off in the week, a day off or a weekend, make this time special and restorative. Make sure it is relaxing or fun – whatever you crave and don’t feel guilty about a lie in or treats!
  6. Create a designated workspace – if you’re someone working from home, try to create an area where you only work. A spare room/office is of course a luxury for many so it could just be a section of worktop, a certain chair or area of the kitchen table that is the only place where you work. It just means you can separate out where you might sit to relax or watch TV and this simple divide can help.
  7. Prioritise your relationships – Everyone is experiencing the pandemic in a different way so we all need to be tolerant of how others are feeling even if it is at odds with how we’re personally feeling. At home if you are part of a household then remember that being together 24/7 under exceptionally stressful circumstances can put a lot of pressure on relationships and dealing with these thoughts and emotions is necessary so that you don’t bottle them up. You may feel you can’t talk to a loved one if things are difficult but find someone else you can talk to. We all need this release!

Jane Thompson

Administrator, CWC

Image credit: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

What do we do now?

What do we do now?

With the Covid-19 crisis there are plenty of restrictions on what chaplains can and cannot do.  What do you do when a lot of people are “home-working”?  How do you help those being furloughed or even made redundant?  Things have eased up somewhat, but as I write, there is talk of new restrictions, a “circuit-break”.

Recently I took part in a quiet day on Zoom with a number of volunteers in chaplaincy. At one point what do we do now came up.  A number of suggestions were made.

  1. Find some open space that can be used to meet, like a nearby garden. In a hospital context this may well work for relatives unable to spend much time with patients.  Other contexts might be able to find some space too.  A poster on a notice board about the “space” might help.
  2. Use modern technology might help with things like “Facetime” and various video calling apps. Where the work is within a factory or office, the managers could be given a phone number and asked to circulate it carefully to those needing time with a chaplain.  There could be privacy issues here, but they might be ameliorated. There is always the CWC Listening Line too!
  3. Maybe this is a time to develop some of our own skills. CWC is looking at accessing appropriate webinars about mental health etc which could help this.
  4. There is always prayer, and not as a last resort! Chaplains work is not just about face to face contacts (although we all want more of them!).  Holding people and situations in the peace of God in prayer may be one of our main callings at present.  In a world where there is so much uncertainty and anxiety, finding quiet, calm, restful places, whether external or internal, would seem to be essential. Can chaplains find ways to help this happen?  And, this work of prayer is no soft option when there is so much pain around.  But it certainly needs to be done.

These are some things that arose out of one conversation.  So, what do you think?  What have you tried?  Perhaps the other thing we can do at the moment is share ideas.  This newsletter can be a forum for that or there may be other ways to be explored.

What do we do now?

What do you think?

Revd. Paul Hills, Vice Chair, CWC