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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
Jane Thompson looks at the different evidence emerging and how it affects the workforce and asks is the essential nature of caregiving now being realised?
You may have read various articles recently documenting how women are being hit hardest during Covid-19. Being female, a working Mother and one who has been juggling homeschooling since February this is a topic close to my heart as I see the fallout affecting myself and friends.
Due to the complex mix of lower paid work, being more exposed to the risk of infection, reduced working hours due to homeschooling; and even an increased risk of furlough or redundancy enforced by their employer (Mothers 47% more likely to lose their job compared to Fathers) women are indeed shouldering the brunt of a rapidly changing work and caregiving environment and frequently these collide.
The Guardian led with how the pandemic is destroying women’s rights citing how women are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout and taking on a greater share of domestic work and childcare – while visits to the Refuge website are up 950%…they state – Is this the biggest ever leap backward for women?
Clearly there are many issues going on, and no two situations are the same; but when you think of the caregiving in our country the vast majority of care is carried out by women – be that paid carers roles in our hospitals and care systems, or ‘invisible’ care not recognised by the economy in the form of caring for children, elderly or sick relatives. The unpaid care offered by many week in week out is a huge benefit that keeps the wheels of the economy working – so are we now seeing the result of this situation with claims from the Government that we ‘all need to get back to work’ whilst parents (especially Mothers) around the country cry back ‘we will once the Children go back to school!’.
In the journal Nature they reflected that previous pandemics had the same results commenting that Governments need to ‘gather data and target policy to keep all citizens equally safe, sheltered and secure’. So what has the current pandemic taught us? I think it has shown families how they need to work differently to be as productive and supportive of each other as much as possible – women in particular need support to close the gap on work they can achieve whilst homeschooling or from other caring responsibilities.
I think it has shown that more value needs to be placed at the heart of caregiving in the UK – all types of care is essential to our families, friends and communities and it protects the NHS and wider services from becoming overburdened. Unpaid care is the unseen pillar of many communities and indeed organisations (through volunteering).
I also hope support for all Mothers in particular will be seen as a greater priority; by their own partners and families but also in the wider community. I speak from personal experience when I say the mental health of many of my female friends is at breaking point right now thanks to complex balance of looking after children and working.
Let’s hope these lessons will be learnt.
Thank you to all our workplace chaplains, supporters and religious leaders who gave up two minutes of their time to give us feedback on our service.
Since our launch event in early 2018 we were reassured to see Chaplains in particular still wanted the range of support we are offering (or planning to offer) including regular chances to meet and support each other, access to training and CPD and financial assistance to attend events and training. Since the survey was circulated we have launched our bursary scheme and we are delighted that chaplains are already making use of this offer.
We will now look to see what training and courses we can offer online; and give chaplains more opportunities to discuss their experiences with each other.
Supporters and Chaplains alike felt promoting the concept of workplace chaplaincy to be very important and this is an area we’re striving to build on constantly. We’ve recently moved our social media emphasis to our Facebook page (to reach Chaplains and the general public) and now to LinkedIn to build relations with organisations and HR professionals.
Summary of results showed:
- 36% respondents were workplace chaplains
- 33% respondents were supporters
- 15% respondents were religious leaders or institutions
- Most workplace chaplains were from Cambridge area (43%) followed by Peterborough area (33%) and Huntingdon (19%) with others scattered around the county
- 43% or respondents are supported by a religious institution with 14% supported by an employer. 24% do not have support.
- Half of workplace chaplains in our county are working at full capacity (50%), with 45% having some capacity for further work
What Chaplains want
- Key issues workplace chaplains want to see CWC actively doing and offering were promoting workplace chaplaincy, support and training opportunities, networking with other chaplains and CPD and non-managerial supervision
- Supporters and chaplains alike want to see the value of workplace chaplaincy to be promoted by CWC
- 100% of respondents were happy in the way CWC communicated with them
- Preferences for the future were communications by email, newsletter and Facebook
Listening service – email email@example.com
Cambridgeshire Workplace Chaplaincy has recognised a need for a listening service – to offer comfort and support for those who are finding life difficult at the moment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The day to day adjustments that many are having to make at the moment due to a stressful job or juggling working from home; coupled with responsibilities at home are very stressful for many of us.
Maintaining and enhancing the emotional and mental health of everyone is critical during these turbulent times. We urge all to not be too proud or self-reliant and to seek support and help whenever you need it. It’s not an admission of weakness.
- The Listening service is a way to get support from our team of volunteers
- Email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your details are passed to one of our volunteers who are either multifaith chaplains or trained counsellors and they will get in touch (phone or email – up to you)
- Our multifaith chaplains are a diverse group who are happy to provide emotional support regardless of whether you have any spiritual or religious beliefs – their aim is to listen and comfort
Workplace chaplains and supporters of chaplaincy from across Cambridgeshire gathered at Ely Cathedral recently for a special service celebrating the role of workplace chaplains, which included a special attendance by Mrs Sue Freestone DL.
The Bishop of Huntingdon (Bishop Dagmar Winter) led the service which included prayers, thanksgiving and hymns chosen to reflect the diverse work chaplains offer via a listening ear in the workplace.
Revd Dr Jenny Gage, a Trustee of CWC and Minister for Social Justice at Ely Cathedral, gave Prayers of Praise:
sustainer of daily life and work, and provider of all our needs:
open our hearts to your creative power
so that we might know your will,
praise your name,
and share your vision for the creation of your kingdom.
In the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Following hymns and prayers; Professor Clive Morton Vice Chair of CWC gave a short report on the variety of workplace chaplains operating across the County. The service was then concluded with a sermon and blessing from the Bishop of Huntingdon, focusing on the power of community within the workplace.
After the service all guests were invited to join together for refreshments within the Cathedral where they had chance to speak to the Bishop and Trustees of CWC. A Story book of Chaplaincy experiences across Cambridgeshire was shared with all: Download a copy here: Chaplaincy_story_book_visual_only