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Viewpoint from Rev Helen Garrard 05/08/2016 

HELEN GARRARDRevd Helen Garrard
Lead Chaplain, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury


A Chaplain writes…

As I step into my new role as Lead Chaplain at James Paget Hospital, it is interesting to reflect on the history of Chaplaincy and its place within society today. The word Chaplain comes from the Latin word for a cloak. Its meaning grew from the story of St Martin who met a man sitting in the rain begging without a cloak. If St Martin had given him his own cloak he would simply have shifted the problem and become cold and wet himself so instead he tore his cloak in two, gave half to the beggar and kept half for himself. Chaplaincy therefore, is a ministry of recognising the needs of another, sharing and being alongside them through the storms and celebrations of their lives

dove leftWhen the NHS was established in 1948 it was agreed that the needs of the whole person should be considered, consequently chaplains were appointed to care for the spiritual needs of patients their families and staff within the hospital environment. Originally all Chaplain’s posts went to Church of England ministers in respect of the close connection between church and state, recently however NHS Chaplaincy provision reflects more fully the faith and spiritual needs of the hospital community. In fact, Chaplains of all faiths are now employed to minister to patients of any or no faith, the understanding being that our work is very much to care and comfort rather than to convert

Dove rightThe presence of NHS funded Chaplains in hospitals acknowledges the impact illness or injury can have on our wellbeing. It is often a time to re consider our values and relationships and look both within and beyond ourselves for sources of hope, meaning and comfort

Chaplaincy, however, is not limited to healthcare. There are Chaplains everywhere!  You may encounter them in schools and universities, emergency services, prisons and law courts, shops, ports, armed forces, even theatres and casinos. Recent research has shown that you are more likely to meet a Chaplain than any other formal religious figure as you go about your daily life. Therefore as traditional Church attendance fluctuates perhaps we have never had such great an opportunity to find support and discuss our beliefs as we make our daily journey through life