As the dust settles after the publication of the Archbishops’ Reimagining Care Commission report earlier this year, it’s a good moment to reflect on what all the work amounts to and what happens next.
If, like me (writes Debbie Thrower) you missed reading Joanna Collicutt’s theological reflection on the Church of England’s report on social care when it first appeared, here’s a link to her full article in Modern Church. She doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to ageism and just how pervasive and serious it can be.
Dr Collicutt highlights some of the specific suggestions for the way forward contained in the report; such as ‘the formation of a coalition of faith, voluntary, and other interest groups with a common vision and values to influence government policy in this area. It is also good to see an unambiguous call for fair pay for caregivers, a just and rational system of funding across the board, a change of political attitude, and the support of a culture of fuller civic engagement.’
However, she goes on: ‘The main question for me is around the role of churches in implementing any of this beyond the many wonderful initiatives that happen at grassroots level, several documented in the report.’
We were pleased, for instance, to see that Anna Chaplaincy was one such; with a visit made to Anna Chaplaincy’s work in the Lake District as part of the commission’s research.
Dr Collicutt’s final remarks, particularly, pose a significant challenge to the church:
‘The report itself acknowledges a need for the church to reflect on its culture and practice, and in particular its approach to inclusivity; nevertheless, I think its issue of institutional ageism still goes largely unacknowledged.’
‘My years as a diocesan older people’s adviser showed me the pervasiveness and seriousness of the problem. Ageism and the obsession with youth and growth are two sides of the same coin; both are symptoms of a mortal fear of irrelevance and annihilation. It’s absolutely right that the church continues to engage proactively with pressing societal issues but it’s also important that at the same time we deal properly with our existential anxiety so that we can speak from a place of confidence and peace.’
Joanna was a founding member of Anna Chaplaincy’s Advisory Group in the first few years of Anna Chaplaincy becoming a BRF ministry from 2014. She is an associate priest in Witney, Oxfordshire (which has its own Anna Chaplain and team of Anna Friends). Modern Church (‘the main advocate for liberal theology in the British churches’) details that she ‘is an academic psychologist of religion. She was the head of complex disability psychology services at the Oxford Centre for Enablement before training for ordination, and was the adviser on the Spiritual Care of Older People for Oxford Diocese (SCOP) until 2019.’