Revd Canon Paul Morris, principal chaplain in the Diocese of Derby, writes:
Voluntary workplace chaplaincy is a growing movement in Derbyshire, with more than 150 chaplains from many denominations serving in 15 locations and in 15 sectors.
Here are stories from two social care contexts during the pandemic:
Chaplains have supported staff and patients at a GP surgery in Ilkeston in the Erewash Primary Care Network.
Soon, there will be chaplains in all 13 Erewash surgeries.
One GP said: "These are very stressful times for everyone, but I am excited about the GP chaplaincy opportunities.
"God is sovereign in all these things. A retired GP who has been praying for our chaplains every week since they started asked how they and we as a team are doing so I shared feedback from patients.
"It has been really encouraging, my favourite quote is, 'Thanks for asking the chaplain to phone me. I didn’t realise what a heavy burden I was carrying until it had been lifted.'”
Hospitals in Ashbourne, Clay Cross, Ilkeston and Ripley created a new post of ward volunteer to liaise between patients and relatives, provide pastoral care and support staff.
Chaplains were appointed, and one wrote: "I was apprehensive, but I was given excellent training.
"The patients cannot have visitors so the opportunity to chat about their family and concerns has been a pleasure.
"I’ve met some extraordinary people, and every day has been different but I always leave the ward inspired by the patients and the hardworking staff.
"I was once explaining to a patient I couldn’t move her as, 'I am only a volunteer,' to which the nurse said, 'Never say that, you are not only a volunteer, you are very important here.'
"I was deeply touched by that comment and am so thankful I agreed to this role."
A daughter of one patient wrote to a ward volunteer: "You lifted Mum’s spirits when we were unable to see her. At times she was so low we wondered whether she would have any reserves to pull through but to know you were there caring and supporting her and liaising with us, was so appreciated by the family.
"For her to hear our messages and see the photos you printed off brought us closer to her as she knew we were there and missing her."
One matron wants ward volunteers to continue in the future because they get on with what is needed, are interactive with patients and have the experience and skills to effectively support patients and their families as well as integrate with ward staff.
These are stories of the church in action in the community, as our chaplains respond to the invitation to engage in faithful and fruitful ministry.