Hayley* has lived in a YMCA DownsLink Group hostel for over two years and has been attending the weekly chaplaincy night for most of that time.
Hayley says, “I’d been living here for 3 months when I first went along to one of the chaplaincy evenings. That first evening I was trying to watch a programme on the computer in the entrance hall but Judi (volunteer chaplain) kept talking to me. In the end I turned the computer off and went over to the chaplaincy group for a chat. The free donuts helped too – especially at first!
“After that I popped down to see them most weeks. To be honest it made the hostel feel more like home. It wasn’t just the donuts…talking to them each week has made me feel less lonely. Looking back I felt quite isolated when I first lived here and I feel less lonely now. As well as meeting the chaplains it gave me the chance to get to know other residents too.
“Apart from that it’s been good to know that someone notices how you are. I get on great with my keyworker and meet with her regularly but sometimes it’s good to get a different opinion. There have been times when I’ve been struggling and I’ve appreciated being able to share that with the chaplains, I feel they have heard my pain.
“I know they will be there each week – that really helps particularly if I have had a bad week. Having someone who is happy to see me makes me feel better – and it’s a chance to hang out with other residents too. And we love the free donuts!”
A chaplain is someone, usually from a church or faith group, who wants to support the community. There are often chaplains in hospitals, sometimes in schools and in all sorts of everyday settings.
YMCA volunteer chaplains are here to offer support to residents and staff. The daily pressures of life can get to us all. Our volunteer chaplains are here to listen and to chat, and if you have worries, large or small, you can share them if you want to. Everything is confidential unless they are worried for your safety or someone else’s safety.
They are also here to explore spiritual issues with you if you choose, and if you would like them to pray with you or for you, you can just ask. They will not try to convert you to their faith; they will respect what you believe. They are here for everyone, no matter what your spiritual beliefs or background.
Hayley continues, “Where religion’s concerned I grew up thinking God was ashamed of you and you need to work harder, rather than thinking there’s a God who loves me. I’m not sure whether I believe in God or not but it has shown me that there is a side of Christianity which is more accepting. I only found out recently that the chaplains are happy to pray for anyone who asks – I kind of think they have already been praying for me anyway!”
*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the young person