The Church of England in Herefordshire and South Shropshire has received a generous grant from the Benefact Trust to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of clergy and staff.
The team welcomed news earlier this week of the £6250 grant, part of the new Brighter Lives fund from the Benefact Trust. The extra money will help colleagues and clergy hit by the unintended effects of the Coronavirus lockdowns to recover and rebuild morale.
At the start of 2022, the diocese launched a staff activity programme to encourage better mental health and wellbeing and rebuild team morale. The activities include lunchtime walks and several bring and share lunches, all of which encourage conversation and real-life re-engagement between colleagues after spending so long working remotely.
The grant money will significantly boost funds, pay for further training and counseling support, and help fulfil plans to host a series of summer events for clergy and staff.
Sam Pratley, diocesan secretary, explains: "In recent years, we have all been encouraged to talk more openly about our mental health. Like many organisations, the Church of England is not immune. The pandemic has impacted everyone differently, but it has created unrealistic expectations. The greater use of digital technology has made some things quicker and easier, although it has simultaneously increased clergy and colleagues' email traffic volume and accessibility. As a small rural diocese with responsibility and oversight for 400 church buildings, everyone's workload appears to have increased significantly.
"Our clergy are also very tired. They worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic when church buildings closed and we were unable to meet in person. Once restrictions eased they continued to work. Dealing with the uncertainty of post-COVID congregations, the increased anxieties of parishioners, and significant reductions in income whilst the cost of running their church increases. It is no wonder they could use a bit of support.”
"This generous grant from the Benefact Trust, Brighter Lives fund, will enable us to make some further investments to help improve clergy and staff wellbeing and rebuild team resilience."