Chaplains bring festive patient support across East Lancashire

Blackburn Citizen: Chaplaincy manager Andrew Horsfall Chaplaincy manager Andrew Horsfall

MANY of us will raise a glass to toast good health this Christmas, but how many of us will remember the team of dedicated hospital chaplains who offer support to those whose health is affected over the festive period?

Royal Blackburn Hospital, Burnley General Hospital, Pendle Community Hospital, Accrington Victoria Hospital and Clitheroe Community Hospital all benefit from a dedicated team of three full-time Christian chaplains who are always on hand to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of hospital patients - no matter what their faith.

The team is backed by volunteers and a part time staff of different faiths, including five Muslim leaders who can be called upon at any time.

Chaplaincy manager Andrew Horsfall said: “The chaplaincy service has been a part of the national health service since it first began and so we are really a part of the team. I think it helps to aid patients’ recovery to know that there are people on hand that can help to meet any spiritual needs they have but it can also be comforting for patients who just feel like they need someone to talk to or somewhere quiet to sit and get some space - not everyone who calls on us belongs to a specific religion or faith.”

Andrew, 49, and his colleagues work on a call system, so patients can request to see someone from the chaplaincy service during their hospital stay.

According to Andrew, who has worked in hospitals for nine years, most of their calls come from patients who are suffering from a long term or critical illness or from the relatives of those who may have passed away.

“In one sense, Christmas in a hospital is much like any other time of year.

“But I think it is definitely true that the festive period is an emotionally tough time of year for a lot of people - particularly those who are ill or have sick relatives that can’t make it home.

“In that respect, we do tend to be busier during the holiday season.

“Also, Christmas is still primarily a religious holiday for a lot of people and so we hold special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for hospital staff to attend as well as patients.

“Our volunteers are wonderful - they give up their own time to help us bring people to the chapel or to help perform other religious duties.

“One of my favourite things about Christmas in the hospital are our carol services that take place on the wards.

“It’s just a wonderful atmosphere - it really brings Christmas cheer to the wards of the hospitals and everyone just loves it.”

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