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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Befriended balance

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Anna Chaplain and founder of the charity, Befriended in mid-Sussex, Gail Millar has been telling us about exercise classes for older people called ‘Befriended Balance’:


‘Befriended Balance’ is our response to the health and well-being of our older people. Statistics and reports have shown that so many of our older people have lost confidence and are more susceptible to falls since the pandemic.

Our balance classes encourage older people of all abilities to come and regain some of their confidence, balance, stamina and strength. They involve a mixture of chair exercises, standing exercises and dance movements culminating in relaxation to Psalms and Stretches.

All of our classes are followed by tea and cake served by students from the local private school, Worth School, fulfilling their Duke of Edinburgh scheme community award. The students thoroughly enjoy spending time with the clients, building relationships and finding lots of things to talk about.

Students from Worth School chatting with those attending the Befriended Balance classes.

One client came to class one Wednesday afternoon very distressed. She said her husband was in a bad way and had been taking out his anger and frustration on her. She then shared that her husband was grieving the loss of his son who had died earlier in the year. I explained that I was an Anna Chaplain and that I also run bereavement courses and, maybe, I could help.

‘Oh we are not religious’ she said. So I replied that’s okay, neither am I. Near the end of the class, I was in the corridor and her husband happened to arrive early and we started to chat. He shared that he was not in a very good place and that he had nowhere to turn. So I gently asked him if I could help. ‘No’, he said. ‘I need to speak to someone about my son's death which is turning me into a horrid person.’ I replied saying that I was a bereavement counsellor as well as a chaplain and had a Bereavement Journey course starting in a few days time. He asked if he could attend.

Gail Millar with Bereavement Journey Course participant Mary.

Brian joined the Bereavement Journey course and it has been transformational for him. After six weeks, including choosing to attend the faith questions week, he says: ‘I have my life back, I found somewhere where I could talk about my son with people who understood and cared. I, for the first time, have been able to cry, grieve and express my anger. It has been life-giving and even though I still have further in my grief journey to travel, I know I have moved on. Gail gave us a copy of Grief Conversations and I have found the stories so helpful to read. I have hope!’

Brian and his wife Julie now attend our monthly tea parties and decided to come to church on Sunday.


Gail Millar co-wrote Grief Conversations with Jill Phipps and it is free to download from our Anna Chaplaincy website.




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