The Chaplaincy team serves the whole of our YMCA St Paul’s Group community, both internal and external, putting the Association’s vision and objectives into practice. Chaplaincy provides pastoral, emotional and spiritual support to staff team, residents and service users across our charity.
The vision, mission and values of YMCA St Paul’s Group have emerged from our Christian foundation and are built upon the verse John 10 v 10 in the Bible:
‘I have come that you might have life and have it to the full’.
We believe in YMCA in the importance of Mind, Body and Spirit, a balance of life and all its fullness.
The Chaplaincy team provide opportunities for our teams, community and residents to explore faith, including the Christian Faith. Bible studies, prayer, opportunities to worship and significant services all play a part in our calendar.
From gyms to care homes for adults with learning difficulties, from hostels to children’s work, Chaplaincy supports all who are part of YMCA St Paul’s Group – sometimes even the dogs who come into the rough sleeper project with their owners.
‘I have been encouraged to open up and share your experiences, let go of the past and embrace the future with optimism and hope. Take responsibility for your own life. Say a loving word to others every day. Explore the world and do things. I have noticed I have been more in touch with my feelings, emotions and others and my time has helped me grow in a more balanced way, more confidence, more in touch with God’
Resident in YMCA Surbiton
Many of the residents we welcome to YMCA St Paul’s Group struggle with family relationships, have moved away from their home area or have had to cut themselves off from those they know. Creating community is a vital part of the Chaplaincy team’s role, offering food, conversation, introductions and camaraderie
One of our team asked the Chaplaincy Life Space group in Walthamstow what they had got from the sessions and why they come back, some of the resident responses are below:
- Peace of mind
- Thought provoking
- Safe space
- Good for my wellbeing
- Learning something new
- Community – being a part of something
- Free coffee and biscuits
In 2019 we were so pleased to see many residents step forward in their lives, moving into independent living, growing in their self-awareness and abilities to make good decisions and stepping out of their comfort zones. Three were baptised in the sea during one of our Life Journey Retreats.
‘I’m quite a reserved person, so I don’t share a lot especially personal things with people. However I was inspired by other people’s bravery in opening up about personal things they have gone through. It really made me think, being vulnerable is ok’
Resident on Wales Retreat
Although YMCA St Paul’s Group is a Christian organisation, our Chaplaincy services are available to people of all faiths or none. Our most important role is simply being there for anyone and no matter what their spiritual beliefs, religion, faith, background, circumstance or difficulties they are facing; we are there to listen and help. The pastoral support we provide is personal and non-judgemental.
We believe that everyone should be able to develop their full potential in body, mind and spirit. In addition to listening, we provide a variety of Chaplaincy programs that encourage team, community and residents:
Together we explore faith and spirituality and learn how these affect our daily lives.
We offer opportunities to exercise and link with physical health.
We run various groups supporting mental health and wellbeing.
Ways to Support YMCA St Paul's Group Chaplaincy
We have a variety of volunteer roles available across different sites around London.
- Mental health supporters – one to one and/or in small support groups – some experience of working alongside those experiencing mental health issues would be helpful
- Pastoral listening ear – general listening, mentoring and coaching
- Drop-in hosts – chatting, making tea and coffee, being available, creating community
- Group work facilitators – helping our Chaplains lead small groups, leading activities, inspiring discussion
- Gym buddies/ session support – linking our residents into the gym sessions, providing support as they get fitter, healthier and improve their wellbeing.
- Transition support – helping our Chaplains to support residents who are moving on into further accommodation
We value prayer for everything that we do. We have many churches and Christians who regularly pray for the work we do, for our staff team and those we serve.
We are always seeking to build deeper relationships with Churches and organisations across the area, and work with people in new and innovative ways. We welcome opportunities to share with congregations directly about our work.
It costs £324 to take a resident on a 5 day Life retreat in Wales, working with a psychologist to look at identity, relationships, forgiveness and faith. We explore comfort zones with cliff walking and falconry and grow as the group opens up and shares. After trust has been built and the work carried out in the preceding months it is this week away that changes lives. Chaplaincy has testimonies of how they have moved on in life because of what they had been through with us in Wales.
OR £21 covers the cost of an anxiety support group for 8-10 people
OR £16 allows us to support a resident in one-to-one sessions
Frequently our residents come to our hostels with very little. It’s fantastic to be able to make them feel welcome with some practical basics e.g. pots and pans, bedding, kitchen ware, etc.