One of the hardest things in ministry is sometimes admitting there is nothing more you can do: you don’t have the expertise, the skills, the knowledge. This can be particularly hard when it comes to pastoral care or supporting someone – clergy are meant to be good at this!
A family recently contacted me in a lot of distress about the impending birth of a child. Without giving personal information away, there were a lot of complicating factors which made the situation hard to get a hold on, and hard to know what to do. I just knew that I was probably out of my depth – remembering the first rule of pastoral care we were taught, that you are priests, not social workers, or therapists. Different care agencies that deal with new mums weren’t responding. They had either closed shop for Christmas, were not taking new referrals, or were not able to offer the kind of mix of physical provisions with pastoral and social care that was needed.
And so I turned where all people turn when at a lost end – to Twitter. One tweet asking if anyone knows of charities that help support new parents in difficult circumstances led to an outpouring of advice and help. This positive help gave way to some barriers: the family is in the wrong borough, does nott fit the criteria, cannot wait three months, cannot offer in person contact because of COVID.
That is when I received an email from Nicola Thomas, who is the Head of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, who had seen my tweet, asking if she could put me in contact with Welcare. A quick referral, and Welcare were able to offer one of their social workers to make contact with the family, and have been able to start offering them the kind of care and support they need. Hopefully the family will be able to face the birth of a new child with a greater sense of security and care than they felt a few weeks ago.
If you would like to find out more or know someone who needs help from Welcare, please visit the Welcare Services page where you can click on ‘Ask for Help’ to make a referral. The work of Welcare is profiled in the December edition of The Bridge (page 12).