Steph Packham is hoping to be commissioned as an Anna Chaplain shortly. She was recruited as a Chaplain to the Elderly by St John’s Church in Wellington, Somerset, in October and while she reports hasn’t been able to meet with older people in person, this hasn’t stopped her building relationships with care providers in her community.
'St John’s Church were organising a wonderful project called "Angels of Hope" and it was my role to ensure that shielding and isolating older people still felt a part of the initiative.'
With a particular interest in intergenerational work, Steph mobilised a team of volunteers of all ages to help with the project, eventually creating gift bags for 700 older people in care homes, sheltered accommodation, retirement housing and those receiving care in their own homes. Teenagers were involved through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and made lavender bag angels. Local school children made Christmas cards and many people of all ages knitted angels.
'We were also blessed with donations of lavender from Somerset Lavender Farm and cards from Lifewords. People were so generous with their time and encouraging with words of support.'
'A joy to be part of'
Care settings were also gifted a light-up, outdoor angel to display as part of an Angel of Hope trail, as well as DVDs/memory sticks of St John’s Church services created specifically for their setting. 'The project was such a joy to be a part of,' said Steph, 'connecting people together in remarkable ways and we were so thrilled that it had captured the hearts of so many.'
'We were even more delighted when we heard that the BBC wanted to film it. The Angel of Hope project featured on Points West news helping to spread the good news further than we had ever imagined.'
Now for Easter...
'The older people have been so touched by the project that it has sparked a new initiative for Easter called "Angels of Joy". This time we are creating colourful angels with a flower theme to celebrate the risen Christ and instead of young people creating gifts for older people we are hoping to unite as all ages to create gifts for the younger people in our community.'