parish nursing and estate ministry

When we were drawing up our Mission Action Plan (MAP) for St Luke’s Downham we were eager to follow the example of St Luke and include something about health and healing. So it came as an answer to prayer when, entirely unprompted by us, a retired nurse contacted us to introduce Parish Nursing Ministries.

Right from our first meeting with the team from Parish Nursing Ministries UK (PNMUK) we could see how amazing a project this was and the kingdom impact it could have in our parish. St Luke’s is part of the Catford and Downham Team located on the Downham Estate, an inter-war garden estate which is in the top 10% most deprived parishes in the UK. As with many areas affected by poverty there are all sorts of issues with mental health struggles, understanding medication, and accessing services, etc.

We originally explored establishing the project with a volunteer nurse, but our volunteer nurse had to cease due to health issues, so we decided to explore options for a paid nurse and were successful in obtaining funding to recruit for 8 hours a week.

The project launched in April 2019 and our Parish Nurse, Becky, has already become a key member of our team and is seeing a steady stream of people. She is a regular attender at the Front Room Club, our drop in for people who are isolated and struggling with mental health difficulties, and at the Food Bank. The support, encouragement and training from PNMUK has been brilliant and invaluable.

Becky writes the following about her ministry:

“With a background working on inner city estates as a district nursing sister, I was not surprised by either the stark poverty or the warm hospitality of the services users I’ve encountered since starting parish nursing. However, the most rewarding part of the work is the ongoing relationships that can be developed as there is no limitation to number of consultations or sticking to one health problem or condition. This is incredibly rewarding for me and effective for the service user as it enables a holistic view of their health, mental, physical, social and spiritual.

The food bank provides different challenges, including helping people in temporary accommodation struggling to access a GP, people in mental health crisis precipitated by sudden financial hardship or relationship breakdown who don’t know what help is available, as well as help with hospital letters for those with low literacy levels. Many service users are distrustful of the NHS or struggle to keep appointments due to chaotic lives, so my presence provides approachable health advice and signposting in a non-health service context.”

I would not hesitate to recommend a partnership with Parish Nursing Ministries UK to any estate church looking to reach out to and serve their community through health ministry. Funding to set up the project can be obtained from the Cinnamon Trust Micro Grants scheme, amongst other grant making groups.

Rev. Nick Walsh

Team Vicar, St Luke’s and St Mark’s Downham, Diocese of Southwark

finding the treasure

Listen to this very wonderful monthly series of podcasts from the Estates Theology Project, part of NECN’s partners at the Estates Evangelism Task Group.

Click here to hear the first one from Wythenshaw in Manchester: Finding the Treasure – Good News from the Estates

Today a fifth of the Church of England’s 12,500 parishes are estimated to be ‘estates parishes’ meaning that they include at least 500 social housing homes, however, half of these ‘estates’ currently have no Church of England Worship centre within them.

Over the last two years, to try and address this, the “Church of England’s Estates Theology” project has been pairing up local ministers, vicars and priests, with academic theologians. This podcast series is showcasing this work and how the project has helped churches and their neighbours to reflect on what gifts God has given them to share together.

In this episode, presenter Liza Ward travels to the Wythenshawe estate in Manchester to to learn how a new project brought William Temple Church closer to those in their local community.

small pilgrim place

One of our member Churches, St Michael’s LEP on the Gospel Oak Estate in Hall Green, Birmingham, has become a Small Pilgrim Place.

There are full details of it here , and the Small Pilgrim Places website is here

Are any other Estate Churches places of pilgrimage? (I can think of Penrhys in South Wales).  It would be great to get some pilgrimages going …