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Hospital chaplain looks to boost team

A hospital chaplain based at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary is looking to boost her team of volunteer helpers.

The Rev’d Annie Gray has been in post as Lead Chaplain at the Cumberland Infirmary for just over a year, overseeing the spiritual and religious care of patients, staff and visitors to the hospital.

Now Annie is looking to boost the number of volunteers who can help her as part of the chaplaincy team run through the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“This is really wonderful work to be involved with,” Annie said. “The people who already volunteer and help with the chaplaincy work clearly love what they do. They get tremendous personal satisfaction from simply being able to draw alongside people and provide a listening ear.

“People who come into hospital for treatment can be facing huge changes and it’s important that the chaplaincy team is there to offer support to complement the brilliant medical work.”

In particular Annie is looking to boost the number of ward visiting volunteers who would be asked to commit to a two hour session every week and who would have all the necessary in-house training. The ward visiting team is currently 15-strong and is ecumenical.

There is also a need to increase the number of people who help to take patients to Sunday services in the hospital’s chapel. Two people must accompany each patient and because volunteer numbers are down at the moment, only one service can be held each month, with people on site from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Annie added: “Those patients who are able to come to the chapel for the monthly service get a lot out of it. It’s a chance for fellowship and the opportunity to move away from the ward environment which is understandably busy. It also gives people the opportunity to remember that we’re all part of a loving God.

“At the moment it would be unfair to ask our existing volunteers to come every Sunday as this would take them out of their own church setting every week. But if we could increase the numbers we could look to share things out more and so increase the number of Sunday services in the chapel.”

Annie came to the role following ordination in 2012. Before training she had work for mental health charity MIND, providing stress-relief services following the Foot and Mouth crisis and had previously set up the New Life Natural Health Care Centre, an ecumenical Christian charity in North Shields, offering therapy to people on low and fixed incomes.

Her chaplaincy sees her reach out to people of all faith and none with work through spirituality offering seasonal meditations for staff and mindfulness sessions.

The nature of the post means she is on call 24/7 and so she is also looking to recruit ordained bank chaplains to cover days off and holidays. These are paid positions and people could be on-call as often as they wanted to be.

Maurya Cushlow, executive director of nursing and midwifery at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We value the work of all the Trust’s volunteers and I would actively encourage anyone thinking of joining Annie and her team to do so. Volunteers make a real difference to patients’ lives and play a vital role in our hospitals.”

If anyone is interested in volunteering as a ward visitor, to help with the Sunday services or to provide bank coverage for Annie, please contact her at or on 01228 814090. Any voicemails left will be answered at the earliest opportunity.



For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at

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