Through Covid and looking forward, what trends are we seeing?
As we emerge from Covid, we are seeing an increase in the number of clergy and their families coming forward seeking referral to a specialist for a physical or psychological condition. I think there are two main factors:
- the mental and emotional toll that Covid has taken on the clergy
- that waiting lists in the NHS are longer due to the backlog of appointments caused by Covid, so clergy are understandably looking to St Luke’s, where possible, for a quicker solution
What has St Luke’s been doing in its three areas of work?
Clergy and families
Our work with individual clergy and their families has continued apace in spite of the restrictions imposed by Covid. Our Medical Secretary, Hazel Adams, referred 330 people during the year from April 2020, a modest increase on the previous year – despite access to health services being greatly reduced in the early stages of the pandemic. In the early part of 2021, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of clergy seeking treatment for psychological and physical issues.
Our work with clergy via dioceses has been online during the pandemic but we are glad to see that some dioceses are starting new reflective practice groups and holding them in person, in an appropriate socially-distanced way.
Advocacy and collaboration
Our main advocacy activity in 2020 was our online Symposium (‘Zymposium’) that brought together people with an interest in clergy wellbeing from across the Church of England. The presentations were fascinating and sparked lively discussion, both in small groups and a plenary session. We are looking forward to our next gathering, also by Zoom, in October.
What is St Luke’s planning for the future?
We have exciting plans to expand our preventive work. We are currently piloting new workshops to help address some of the issues arising as we emerge from Covid. There is strong evidence that many clergy have understandably found it a painful and exhausting time and we want to help.
Our preventive activities over the next few years will focus on helping dioceses to implement the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing, the overarching commitment of the Church to the wellbeing of its clergy, tailoring it to the needs of each diocese. We believe that if clergy are healthy in mind, body and spirit will they be better able to live out their vocation and flourish in their ministry.
What is St Luke’s financial outlook?
The truth is that we have spent much more in the last year than we raised from donations and legacies and we are having to limit how we help with some of the more costly procedures, such as cataract ops. We remain committed to improving the psychological health of clergy and to helping whenever we can with physical issues. By March this year we were already committed to £75,000-worth of sessions of psychological therapy for clergy, which is an unprecedented amount for St Luke’s at any one time.
St Luke’s wants to be here for clergy in the future but to do that, we have to build our financial resources. We are seeking donations from individuals and parishes to bridge the gap between our income and expenditure so we can continue to help clergy with their health and wellbeing so they can thrive and flourish in their ministry.