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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

A full house for ‘Refresh and Resource Southampton’

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

‘Hands up if you’re an Anna Chaplain or Anna Friend!’

March 23 – two years to the day since the first lockdown – was a special day for Anna Chaplains, Anna Friends and many others engaged in ministry among older people as we all converged on Southampton Refresh and Resource. It was the first in-person such day since the annual conferences in the city had to be cancelled due to Covid.

Coffee break between sessions at Refresh and Resource at St Nicolas’ Church, Southampton

A full house – more than 70 people – met at St Nicolas’ Church, Stoneham Lane, at the invitation of Southampton charity Caraway – ‘gathering the harvest in our older years.’ The theme was living well with dementia and the worship which opened the event focused on, ‘How does your garden grow?’ Weather-wise, it couldn’t have been a more beautiful Spring day for it!

Debbie Ducille, Anna Chaplaincy church lead meets Anna Chaplains in person for the first time

Anna Chaplaincy church lead Debbie Ducille travelled from Birmingham to meet participants and spoke of how exciting a time this is for Anna Chaplaincy as we see numbers growing rapidly across the UK – more than a 25% increase in the size of the network in the last six months – now we are more than 220 strong.

Anna Chaplaincy pioneer Debbie Thrower

Dr Jennifer Bute was the guest speaker in the morning and offered two talks. The first on her own experiences of living with dementia and the second on ways in which scripture sustains her – ‘it is what keeps me so positive and cheerful’ she declared.

The former Southampton GP’s website has many useful resources for people wanting to understand the disease better and find ways to chat more easily with people with dementia.

The number one lesson? Don’t, ever, ask factual questions. Second golden tip? ‘Some memories are not lost forever – it’s the access to them which is blocked – so keep trying new ways to reach them. Please don’t ever give up on someone with dementia, or the conversation you are having with them,’ said Jennifer. ‘You need to confirm them in their reality when they are “time-travelling”’ she added.

Jennifer Bute on her website

Anna Chaplaincy network member, Canon Dr Erica Roberts, had opened Refresh and Resource reminding us that this was the sixth such event since they began at Highfield Church, Southampton.

The new venue worked well this year and it was especially good to meet up face-to-face after such prolonged periods without seeing one another or communicating only via a screen.

As we prayed for the people of Ukraine before leaving, I’m sure many of us had Jennifer Bute’s words ringing in our ears:

‘God can use anything, however devastating it is… if we let him.’



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