Reverend Paula Graham is the Pastoral Care Team Coordinator at Saint Francis Hospice in Essex. Here she reflects on how the hospice welcomes everyone, regardless of background or beliefs.
I became drawn to end of life care while looking after people with life-limiting illnesses, including my mum. Since caring for her, people began to ask if I could journey with them during their end of life. It’s a sincere privilege to support someone during that very sacred time. Although I do get invited to parties too, which is nice.
Our supporters, staff, volunteers and the individuals we support come from all different walks of life, reflecting our catchment area’s rich diversity. We welcome everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, social status or beliefs to use our services.
The notion that you need to be religious to be part of our hospice is a myth that everyone here is eager to banish — including me, as the hospice’s new Pastoral Care Team Coordinator. While many may associate my ‘Reverend’ title with the Christian faith, I’m an ordained Interfaith Minister. I serve people of all faiths and none.
I love exploring all faiths and welcoming those without. I’m immersed in all, but committed to none. I find that the more I explore different religions, the less I see the boundaries between them.
My role at our hospice isn’t about my beliefs, but about other people’s. I’m here to support ideas people already have, not change them or impose mine.
Part of my role involves connecting with diverse local groups to find out how we can best serve their needs. I’m also here to ensure that the hospice’s chapel and quiet space develops while remaining a place that anyone can use to enjoy the peace, reflect or pray.
My days involve visiting patients and relatives on our ward, contacting patients at home, creating and holding services and interfaith reflection groups. I also work with faith leaders and support our wonderful staff and volunteers too.
Whether in my previous roles as a natural therapist and businesswoman, or my purpose here, I’ve learned that one of the most important things anyone can do is to listen deeply. It’s a large part of what the Pastoral Care team offers here at the hospice.
For more information visit Saint Francis Hospice