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Care under Covid–19: Providing spiritual and pastoral support at a distance

Care under Covid–19: Providing spiritual and pastoral support at a distance

This event explores how chaplains have supported people during the crisis, and how care has changed with restrictions on physical presence.

You can watch a recording of the event here: 

Among those on the front–line of the Covid crisis, there are people whose job it is to provide spiritual and pastoral care for anyone who needs it. Throughout the pandemic, chaplains, faith advisors and pastoral carers have been supporting the isolated, offering a listening ear to the anxious, and comforting the ill, dying and bereaved. Some of this work has attracted national media attention: The Guardian, for example, published an article at the height of the first lockdown about chaplains’ support for medical staff as they “come to terms with the difficult choices they have had to make”.

Chaplains have been more needed than ever before, but the nature of their work has had to change dramatically. While some have remained in their workplace, many others have no longer been able to offer support in person. This raises important questions about the nature and future of spiritual and pastoral care. What does it look like when physical presence is restricted or lost? What should chaplains and others learn from the pandemic to develop their practice? And how can this sector, which involves a high proportion of volunteers, be given the support and recognition it deserves?

More broadly, we are interested in reflecting on the themes of presence, accompaniment and hope.

This event on 17th March 2021 brings together a panel of chaplains and pastoral carers to discuss spiritual and pastoral care at a time of physical distance. It also marks the launch of new research by Theos, exploring the contributions of university chaplains during Covid, the challenges they have faced, and what can be learned from their experiences.


Simon Perfect

Simon is a researcher at Theos and is the author of Theos’ new report Relationships, Presence and Hope: University Chaplaincy During the COVID–19 Pandemic. It explores the contributions of university chaplains supporting students and staff during the pandemic, and the major challenges they have faced. Simon is also a researcher and tutor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Revd Canon Mia Hilborn

Mia is Hospitaller for Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and runs the only chaplain–led PG Cert in healthcare chaplaincy with London South Bank University. She is chaplain and trustee for the Firefighters Memorial Trust, Senior Brigade Chaplain for the London Fire Brigade and committee member for the Fire & Rescue Services Chaplains Association.

Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ

Gemma is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus, founded by Mary Ward (1585–1645). She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge where she is director of the Religious Life Institute. She lectured in Christian Spirituality at Heythrop College, University of London from 2005 until its closure in 2018, specialising in Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian tradition. An international speaker and lecturer working in the fields of Christian spirituality and ecclesiology, she has been a missionary in Brazil and a chaplain in the Universities of Cambridge and London as well as a chaplaincy volunteer in Holloway Prison for 26 years. She is a regular broadcaster on religious matters on the BBC. Her book, The Way of Ignatius, was published by SPCK for Lent 2019 and was serialised as the Lenten retreat on Pray As You Go Her most recent book, Treasuring God’s Word is published by Pauline Books and Media and another book on retreats at home, Dancing at the Still Point, is due for publication by SPCK in July 2021.

Lindsay van Dijk

Lindsay is an accredited humanist funeral celebrant at Humanists U.K. and she has been trained on Master’s level in the Netherlands at the University of Humanistic Studies (in Utrecht) to provide humanist and existential counselling, coaching and pastoral care. Lindsay is a member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) and the British Association for the Person–Centered Approach (BAPCA). Lindsay is accredited as a pastoral carer through the UK Board of healthcare Chaplaincy (UKBHC) and the Non–Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN). She is the chair of the NRPSN and the first humanist lead Chaplain to have ever been appointed within the U.K.

Revd Lindsay Meader

Lindsay is an Anglican priest, serving as the Lead Theatre Chaplain for the Diocese of London and Senior Chaplain of Theatre Chaplaincy UK. Prior to this she served for 14 years as Associate Rector of St James’s Piccadilly.

You will be receive the zoom link in your booking confirmation. Please note the event will be recorded.

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 Image: Mary Long/Adobe Stock

Simon Perfect

Simon Perfect

Simon is a Researcher at Theos. He is also a researcher and tutor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he leads distance–learning courses exploring Muslim communities in Britain and in other minority settings. He is co–author of the book ‘Freedom of Speech in Universities: Islam, Charities and Counter–terrorism’ (Routledge, 2021).

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