General support principles
Most of the guidance to Chaplaincies contained in this set of ‘User Guides’ has been aimed at the obvious physical and practical issues relating to the well-being of the Chaplain and their family.
This Guide offers some alternative, more spiritual approaches to well-being. These are commended to both Laity and Clergy for consideration and local implementation, as required.
The list is not exhaustive and local knowledge may provide additional possibilities for local (or indeed broader) application. Clearly, different Chaplains will have different requirements and choices. Some may need few if any of the following suggestions, while others may opt to take strength from involvement in several of the activities. Chaplaincy Laity need to be aware of their Chaplain’s needs and wishes; and encourage the Chaplain to consider how they might best benefit from the ideas presented here. The Chaplain may require financial support from the Chaplaincy or the Archdeaconry Continuing Ministerial Development (CMD) fund (which may be held at within a chaplaincy or the archdeaconry).
In addition to formal ‘Chapter Meetings’, clergy often create informal ‘Cluster Groups’. These provide Chaplains with the opportunity to get together informally to study, discuss matters of mutual interest, share their concerns, and seek solutions to problems – and enjoy the company of others who understand their situation. In our Diocese, where clergy can feel very isolated, Cluster Groups have shown their worth, and the benefits to Chaplains are plain to see. Groups may be established on a geographic basis or by like-minded Chaplains (Church tradition, interests, etc) or in some other way. This is not important – what is important is to have a group where clergy can bounce ideas around or just have a good moan in the presence of colleagues!
The value of a ‘Retreat’ varies from person to person. However, it is an important means of recharging the spiritual batteries. Chaplaincies should support their Chaplains should they wish to go on Retreat. A Retreat is an activity that enables a Chaplain to carry out their role – and should therefore not be counted as a period of leave! It is worth seeking to claim the financial costs of attending a retreat, at least in part, from the Archdeaconry or Chaplaincy Continuing Ministerial Development (CMD) Fund.
For some Chaplains contact with their Spiritual Director provides support and nourishment and is an important facet of their life. Chaplaincies should support their Chaplain’s wishes in this area.
NB the Diocese has a team of trained Spiritual Directors. For more information, your Chaplain should contact the Diocesan Spirituality Advisor.
For some Chaplains it may be useful to avail themselves of what might be described as a ‘work consultant’. This is a person who can help with the practical aspects of a working role such as boundaries, time management, and working relationships. This role could be taken on by a trusted fellow chaplain with experience, or an Area Dean or Archdeacon. Equally, it could be someone from outside the Diocesan structures but from within the UK-based national network of work consultants. Archdeacons can advise on this. Any reasonable fee for this assistance should be regarded as a part of the usual chaplaincy expenses.
A Trusted Colleague/Friend
A ‘confidant/confidante’ with whom a Chaplain feels free to share their concerns, hopes and aspirations in an entirely confidential and open manner can be of enormous value. It can be useful as a means of testing ideas, calming fears and generally ‘putting the world/chaplaincy to rights’. In many cases it is better if such a person is not a member of the chaplaincy. Members of the Laity (possibly from another Chaplaincy), who act as mentors in their professional lives, could be encouraged to use their skills to support our clergy though great care should be given to ensuring confidentiality.