Christmas happens once a year – but providing a much-needed support service to hundreds of staff, patients and visitors is a 24/7 dedication for the hospital chaplaincy team.
Fulfilling end of life requests from patients and their families, guiding staff through difficult times or simply providing a comforting listening ear, the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust chaplains work round the clock to offer pastoral care and spiritual support.
And while the service continues to be in high demand during the busy festive season with carol services and concerts, the team is keen to point out that their focus is not just around Christmas time.
The 11-strong team across Peterborough City Hospital, Stamford and Rutland Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntington – which includes bank chaplains and is supported a dedicated army of hospital volunteers – provide a multi-faith service all year round.
This includes faith sensitive and compassionate care to the diverse communities that the hospitals serves, facilitating rites, rituals, and care for a variety of faiths and beliefs to accommodate their needs.
Chaplain Rev Reuben Mugweru explains: “Our service is here to support people of all faiths, or indeed those who have no particular faith. We also work closely with faith leaders in the local community to help us to meet the needs of everyone.
“The collaborative approach across the Trust to facilitate timely burials in line with Muslim requests has been extraordinary at times and appreciated by bereaved families.”
“We are here for every patient who comes into the hospital to provide whatever they request. This can be a Bible reading or a prayer for those nearing end of life, to delivering baby blessings and being present at ward weddings.”
The chaplaincy service is also supported by around 40 volunteers who give up their time to come into the Trust as ward visitors, emergency department pastors and support the Sunday services.
Reuben (pictured) added: “We are also here for hospital staff who are welcome and indeed do come and talk to us and stop us in the corridors and wards because they need a listening ear.”
Evidence of the important work the service offers to staff in particular came during the pandemic – and team was recently recognised for the role it played throughout many challenging weeks and months with a Team of the Year accolade at the Trust’s recent Outstanding Achievement Awards.
Chaplain William Booker recalls: “The pandemic was a difficult time for many; people felt scared, confused and angry as well as many other emotions. We supported a lot of staff during these unprecedented times who themselves were spending time with patients during their final hours.”
The Faith Centre at Peterborough City Hospital provided and continues to provide a peaceful, safe and tranquil retreat for staff, patients and visitors to sit quietly to reflect and remember.
It is also a very joyous place, say the chaplains, and recently hosted a Christmas party with singing and celebration to thank the volunteers for their hard work during the year.
Carol singing services are taking place at all the Trust hospitals in the run up to Christmas, including at Peterborough City Hospital on Christmas Day when there will be music in the atrium from the Salvation Army Band.
Peterborough City Hospital, Rutland and Stamford Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon are all part of North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.
Pic cap: The Trust’s chaplaincy teams provides a 24/7 support service. Some of them are pictured here in the Faith Centre at Peterborough, with others receiving the Team of the Year Award from North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust Chief People Officer Louise Tibbert and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire presenter Chris Mann (far right).
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