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Issue 3 number 8 June 2017
The Gift of Years Debbie Thrower
T The Editors
Andrew Colborne Alexandra Green Louise Heffernan Sheila Hills
Silvia Joinson David Pope
Copy for next issue to Parish Office or via email by 5th of
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he good news is we’re living longer. Not so good is the news that many of those passing well beyond their ‘three score years and ten’ are living isolated lives, prone to a debilitating loneliness that’s a comparatively new feature of modern
life. Few of us now live close to an extended family willing to support us to live at home for as long as possible, and keep us linked in across generations. Yet in twenty years’ time there will be double the number of people over the age of 85 than there are now, according to Age UK.
The Bible Reading Fellowship, BRF, based in Abingdon, has two main objectives through its programme - The Gift of Years - ‘resourcing the spiritual journey of older people’
To improve the spiritual lives of older people To develop Anna Chaplaincy to Older People
Anna Chaplaincy to Older People is about person-centred care for older people whether they have strong, little, or no faith at all. Anna Chaplains are community-based and sup- port relatives and professional carers as well. This year eight new Anna Chaplains have begun working in Kent; the city of Chichester also has Anna Chaplaincy, with other towns such as Rugby developing the role. Newcastle has also set up an Anna Chaplaincy task group through The Gift of Years. Visiting people in their own homes who are strug- gling and men and women in residential homes coping with new circumstances is a core part of the Anna ministry, named after the widow ‘Anna’ who appears with Simeon in Luke’s gospel.
Helping bereaved people
One initiative I was involved with used a community bus, providing transport; volun- teers serve tea, and members bring poems and readings exploring a theme each month. No one likes to think of themselves as lonely. It's hard to admit to oneself let alone oth- ers. Having a regular event, such as the bus, introduces people to new friends, especially those in the same boat, such as losing a spouse or partner.With more than half of all people of 75 and over living alone* more and more churches are wanting to explore Anna Chaplaincy as one of the tried and tested ways of reaching out to those of us most likely to feel lonely.
If you’re interested in Anna Chaplaincy and getting the ministry underway in your area, there’ll be an event on Saturday September 30 which I’ll lead. It will be hosted by the Methodists, at a venue still to be arranged, but will be open to people of all denomina- tions. The Methodist minister who helped us found it in Alton, is now the Circuit Super- intendent for Abingdon and Wantage, the Revd Keith Underhill, so he is keen to see it expand much more widely… and especially in his new setting. We really should have Anna Chaplains in Abingdon and the surrounding area where he is based, and where BRF has its headquarters!’
Debbie Thrower is a former broadcaster, and now team leader of The Gift of Years. www.thegiftofyears.org.uk
* Office for National Statistics, 2010.
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