With the opening up of several parts of society, including greater access to places of worship, organisers of the Listening Chaplaincy Phoneline have decided to suspend the operation.
Run by 90 lay and clergy chaplains the phoneline was set up to provide emotional support to those suffering from COVID-19 related anxiety in the Avon and Somerset area.
It was created by the faith communities working together in the major emergencies team (originally established 30 years ago to provide face-to-face support in times of emergency) and was adapted to become a chaplaincy phoneline in response to the pandemic.
It took just one month to develop the service and train team members and it operated successfully for two months. Bishop Peter praised the work of the helpline, thanking those who set it up and the volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout to support those in need. “I give thanks to all those who worked to enable this to happen, for those who have been helped and for the things we have learnt along the way.”
Not all the calls the phoneline received were linked directly to COVID 19, but many were in response to the impact of the crisis on people. Organisers also believe there have been other indirect positive consequences, ”It is now known that the Faith Communities can respond to crisis in a different and extended way, meaning, for example, a victim support line could be speedily established in the wake of a major emergency incident.”
David Maggs Bath and Wells Mission Team Leader was part of the group which helped organise the phoneline, he commended all those involved for their dedication and determination.
“We thank everyone for their willingness to be involved, and for the passion, endurance and commitment shown. We have made a positive difference to many people’s lives, as we hoped we would. We know we have built a fellowship of volunteers who were “ready for anything” together.”
His words were echoed by Revd Adrian Prior-Sankey, Lead Chaplain, Taunton Team Chaplaincy, “It proved to be a real blessing to those who called seeking a caring response to their needs during the lockdown period. The 90 volunteers considered it a privilege to be able to listen and pray with those who welcomed the offer. Organisers hope that many of the team members will continue their association with the Faith Communities’ Major Emergency plan Response team and be ready to serve their neighbours again in whatever way help might be needed”.