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  • Debbie Ducille

A new network to support and connect Christians working in the care sector

More than five percent of England’s workforce – some 1.52 million people – are employed in adult social care, according to government statistics. This is more than work in the NHS. It is a workforce that often feels undervalued and contends with high vacancy rates, high staff turnover, rising demand and low pay. Care workers are the unsung heroes of our society, and a new Christian network called Christians in Care was launched in July 2023 to bring them hope and encouragement.


Christians in Care was brought into being by Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity providing care homes and housing schemes for older people. It offers regular online connection to Christians working in mental health, learning disability and older people’s services to enable their faith to be supported through prayer and a sense of community.  Starting with WhatsApp groups and monthly online meetings for prayer, learning, fellowship and discussion, it is hoped that in-person regional meet-ups will be possible in the future. The aim is for Christians working in care to remain hope-filled and encouraged as they continue to serve others through the many challenges their work can hold.


The lead coordinator for Christians in Care is Lucy Honeysett. Lucy is a nurse who has worked for most of her career in hospice care but began her working life as a carer. Seeing the kindness, compassion and respect with which care staff treated people was an inspiration and reminded her of how Jesus treated people who might otherwise have been forgotten by society. Through her hospice work, she saw how those providing care do not always receive the recognition they deserve; she hopes that through her new role with Christians in Care she can help remedy this. Already she has connected with Christians in caring roles who feel isolated and desperate for fellowship with other Christians who understand the pressures they face, including some who have moved to the UK from overseas to work in our care services.


Anna Chaplaincy seeks to support the paid and family carers working with older people and BRF Ministries welcomes the launch of Christians in Care as it seeks to help a workforce that is essential to the well-being of those facing health challenges and reduced independence in their later years. Many members of the Anna Chaplaincy network have worked in the care sector, with some continuing in paid care roles with older people as live-in carers, domiciliary care workers and care home staff, alongside their Anna Chaplaincy ministry.


Julia Burton-Jones, training and development lead for Anna Chaplaincy at BRF Ministries, met with Christians in Care’s Lucy Honeysett in late 2023 to explore ways the two organisations might work together, given their shared concern for the care workforce. BRF Ministries would like to spread the word about this valuable new initiative. Please pass on this digital invitation card to anyone who may be interested; to find out more about Christians in Care, visit the website – pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/christians-in-care.


BRF Ministries has a series of booklets written to resource those working in care with older people which Christians in Care is promoting – Anna Chaplaincy Carer’s Guides. There are plans for Christians in Care and Anna Chaplaincy to collaborate in 2024. Together we hope churches can find ways to raise the profile of, and pray regularly for, care staff working in their communities so that they receive much-needed recognition and appreciation. They play an invaluable part in enabling older people to live fulfilled lives.


 



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