Amount given: £40,000 over 2 years (funding from 2019 – 2021)
This application was towards the salary costs of an Anna Chaplain to address the spiritual needs of people over the age of 70 within Moseley, Birmingham. The application was made under our meeting the spiritual needs of older people priority for our Christian Projects grant programme.
Christine Muskett, Christian Grants Programme Manager
St Christopher’s Church is an inner city church, one of four in the Emmanuel Group of parishes in the Moseley area of Birmingham, which is characterised by high levels of poverty. It is a multi-cultural community which faces challenges of isolation and community exclusion. The majority of local initiatives tend to focus on young people and integration, and the church leadership wanted to redress the balance with work supporting and nurturing the spiritual life of older members of the community.
Anna Chaplaincy is a nationally recognised model for offering spiritual care in later life to people of any faith or none, on an ecumenical basis. We were attracted to fund this project because it is pioneering to establish it in such a multi-cultural area. We were keen to help the church to learn how it can be implemented effectively in a multi-cultural, inner city environment and to share that experience with other churches in similar situations.
Find out more about the work of St Christopher’s Church Springfield
Debbie Gurling, Anna Chaplain
As an Anna Chaplain, many of the older people I have been visiting are originally from the Caribbean. They came to the UK with a strong faith but, through age and frailty, have found they can no longer attend church to practice it. The Chaplaincy’s area is one where the older people are surrounded by communities very different from their own. This has increased isolation, as their children have also moved away. My ministry is about supporting older people in remaining connected to their faith and allowing them to give expression to that through song, testimony and simple acts of worship together. This has enabled older people to remember and reconnect with their spiritual heritage.
I have been working with two active volunteers and hope to recruit more in the future, as the more we find people, the more we realise the need is much greater than we realised. I regularly visit the congregations in our Emmanuel Group of four churches to raise awareness of Anna Chaplaincy and the needs and gifts of older people generally.
There is no doubt that this funding has enabled older people in our diverse part of Birmingham to stay connected to their faith and for the churches to become increasingly aware of their presence.
‘I love to hear from you Debbie (Anna Chaplain), and the way you keep in contact with everyone – I look forward to speaking to you.’
‘This has been one of the best things that has happened since I was confined. It makes me feel alive, and gives me the strength to keep going. I look forward to the visits from Debbie (Anna Chaplain), as it is what I need – just having someone else to talk to.’