We’re starting a new series this week about how different churches in the synod are joining in God’s mission in the world. This week we hear from Jane Simmons how Heath Church in Halifax have employed a Parish Nurse – and if you don’t know what one of those is, read on!


Exploring which way to go

Back in 2015, the Halifax Group of URCs Secretaries’ meeting was thinking about mission. I attended a Cinnamon Network event that was showcasing a range of mission ideas and I returned enthused about one that I thought would be a great fit with our group. The response told me that was not what God thought! Then came an email introducing Parish Nursing.

This seemed so right for Heath. Our Local Ward Profile showed that our locality had a high number of residents aged 70+, and a high proportion living alone. I was also supporting my mother in her health and care needs at the time, and realised how hard it must be for those without local family support. I felt strongly that this was what God was calling us to do at Heath URC, and the Church Meeting unanimously agreed.


“I just didn’t know who to turn to, but the Parish Nurse supported us and guided us through the system. Thankyou!”
(A service user in their 80s)


Taking the next steps…

So I approached Parish Nursing Ministries UK and, with their help, we set up a steering group to prepare a job description and budget etc. We applied for funding from Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, but were turned down. In hindsight this has been a relief, as it has meant less demand for target-setting and data-collecting – which is not what Heath’s Parish Nursing Service is really about. However, a successful application to the Yorkshire Synod Mission Fund allowed us to go ahead and advertise the post. But it then took 2 more years to find the right person. In May 2018 we launched Heath’s Parish Nursing Service, just the second URC nationally to have one.



Getting there

Our Parish Nurse, Dawn, works 8 hours a week, almost entirely with older people, in ‘whole person’ health care. This means considering the spiritual, physical, mental and social aspects of their health. These days health and care providers are often overstretched. Dawn can join up the disjointed and fill in the gaps in statutory provision, without duplicating what is the responsibility of others.


“It was refreshing to have a visit from an informed person who also included a spiritual element”
(A service user in their 80s)


She now supports 14 or 15 people a month as well as family and carers, through home visits, consultations in her church office, or by ‘phone, text or email. She helps people to understand and manage their health needs and complete benefit forms; she connects them to other services and support; and she can accompany them to appointments. Dawn also offers spiritual care and support if it is wanted, although people using the service can be of any faith or none. Her work is extremely varied and greatly appreciated by service users and their families and carers.

Jane Simmons (Church Secretary, Heath URC)


If you have a story about what your church is doing to join in God’s mission then let us know.

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