Our Chaplaincy Team sits within our Family Support Care Pathway here at the Hospice. Our team is able to help patients, guests and families with their spiritual, religious and pastoral needs.
Meet the Team
Jess Monopoli – Chaplaincy Volunteer
“I’m training to become a Church of England priest. I’ve been on my placement here at the Hospice since September 2022 and will leave in May 2023 in advance of my ordination in July. I volunteer one day a week on a Thursday. My role as a Chaplaincy Volunteer is to support staff, families and patients. I have been studying at Cranmer Hall which is a theological college and part of St John’s College at Durham University. I’m so pleased that we have been able to establish even more links with Cramner Hall during my time here, so that when I leave, other volunteers are already in line to volunteer their time to help those in the Hospice.
My main role as a Chaplaincy Volunteer is to listen.
Chaplains are never restrictive and speak to people of all faiths, and those who might not have a faith at all. We will talk to anyone who wants to chat.
From my experience, I’ve found that as a Chaplain, I try and move at a different pace to the rest of the team on the In-Patient Unit, with the intention of listening with no agenda, I hope that through this, I act as a calming presence for both staff and patients.
I try to meet people where they are.
There is often a real breadth of conversation going on in the Hospice. Sometimes I talk to patients and families on the In-Patient Unit about big life questions, like what happens when we die or what happens when we are afraid, and other times we might be chatting about what’s been on the tv and who is going to win Dancing on Ice.
I might be a presence at someone’s bedside if they need me, or I might signpost to other religious and spiritual organisations in County Durham that might be more suitable for patients and families to speak with. For example, we had a patient who wanted to speak with a Roman Catholic Priest and we were able to organise for this to happen.
I also help support Hospice staff, if they need me.
I’ve been running a spirituality group and book club on a Thursday with some of our Living Well Centre Guests and their carers. We’re currently reading The Shack by William B Young (which is also a film on Netflix.). The book club has been so enjoyable, and we’ve had some fantastic discussions in the group about all sorts of things, using the book as a conversation starter.
It’s important for me to live out the Gospel in my actions, rather than preaching it, when I speak with people – sometimes people worry that as Chaplains, we’re there to convert them or only talk about God, this is never our primary aim, of course, we care about our faith, but we deeply respect others’ beliefs and understandings and the patient always sets the agenda.
For me, the best part of my role is receiving an invitation into someone’s life and to be able to walk alongside them on their journey (at the Hospice). To be able to establish connections with people and relieve some of the weight of their pain, is a real privilege for me.”
The Reverend Stephen Martin – Volunteer Chaplain
“I am a Priest in the Church of England, Diocese of Durham and have been volunteering at the Hospice since November 2022. I am a curate of my Parish which includes Lanchester, Burnhope, Annfield Plain and Leadgate and I am able to volunteer my time at both St Cuthbert’s Hospice and Willowburn Hospice in Lanchester.
The sense of community here and the atmosphere amongst the staff is fantastic. They all get on so well and look after each other.
On a Friday, which is the day I visit St Cuthbert’s, I try to attend the morning handover for the In-Patient Unit and Living Well Centre to find out what has been going on. I’ll then visit the rooms on the In-Patient Unit to see if anyone would like to chat. I wear a clerical collar so most people may see me and identify me as a Chaplaincy volunteer straight away. This can be different for Jess, as she does not wear a clerical collar.
My role is to build relationships. Sometimes when I chat to people there is no mention of God or faith. It’s about meeting people where they are at and taking people as you find them.
Perhaps a family just needs a bit of space to vent for a little while and that’s fine, that’s part of my role – to be a listening ear when someone needs it. I know that in my role I can give that bit of time to patients and families, which can really make a difference.
It’s really life-affirming for me to be able to support people at the Hospice.
I hope to remain a Chaplaincy volunteer at the Hospice for as long as I am able to!”
St Cuthbert’s Hospice offer Chaplaincy support for our Living Well Centre and In-Patient Unit. For more information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 386 1170.