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Workplace Chaplaincy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Peter Sellick, Development Director for ‘Churches and Industry Group Birmingham – Solihull’ (CIGB) reports that its Workplace Chaplains are busy providing emotional and wellbeing support for staff across the city during the Covid-19 pandemic. For businesses like National Express Buses, Birmingham Airport, NEC Group and Birmingham City Council, CIGB Chaplains continue to help staff (of any faith or no faith) via phone and IT meetings, to manage their anxieties and bereavements.
For businesses that are currently closed and staff dispersed, CIGB is spreading the word of its availability via networks and social media.
Chaplains are hearing from staff who are very disorientated by having to work from home, juggle home-schooling and separated from their usual networks of support. Staff sometimes feel guilty that they cannot focus on work as well as would like to. CIGB is also in contact with people who are grieving and /or feeling isolated and alone. For people of faith or no faith, the paring down of funeral ceremonies to the minimum is causing further hurt. Chaplains are reminding people that faith groups will be able to offer a greater time of reflection, feeling and ceremony at a later date, even if that is a small comfort.
CIGB’s ‘Health and Wellbeing’ website page (http://www.cigb.org.uk/activities/health-at-work/) includes links to a number of free resources to self-help guides for sleep, anxiety and relationship issues, as well as free online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses and Mindfulness exercises. CIGB’s Faith Online page (http://www.cigb.org.uk/faith-support-online/) has a sample list of different faith communities that are offering worship and engagement on-line. Some people may not have been belonging to a regular faith congregation, but may want to reconnect with a faith community now.
Normally, Chaplaincy involves face-to-face encounters in the workplace. But, having built up rapport over a number of years, CIGB Chaplains are finding that they are still able to share empathy and rapport, despite the physical separation. Chaplaincy overall continues to be an ongoing resource in many institutions at the moment – particularly in hospitals, care homes and prisons. They are learning from each other how to respond and continue their services in these new circumstances. CIGB is grateful to its Funders and Friends for their continued support. For more information, visit www.cigb.org.uk.