Hospital chaplaincy and homeless charities: real life experiences for church interns at Stithians
Sophie Troczynska only started her internship at Stithians in September of last year but she already has a variety of experiences under her belt.
Growing up on the outskirts of London, her Christian beliefs were always a big part of her life but it was not until she joined a Christian Fellowship group at her secondary school that her thoughts turned to exploring her faith further. Sophie explains:
“My Christian faith became more than something I did, it became something I felt.”
As well as spending time on parish placements in Stithians and Devoran where her activities include working with the all age teams, leading evensong, volunteering at Messy Church and taking part in the Open the Book sessions at Stithians School, Sophie has also spent time in three out-of-parish placements.
One of her placements was spent shadowing members of the chaplaincy team at Treliske Royal Cornwall Hospital. The team currently exists of three paid members of staff and a number of volunteers who respond to visit requests from patients and family as well as visiting the wards once a week.
The visits can take place in a number of way: befriending, taking bedside communion, end of life visits, sharing prayers, reading together or just talking.
Sophie explains the way she sees the role:
“You don’t necessarily visit someone as a Christian; you go as whatever they need you to be. Quite often it is about being someone who can provide some company, listen to them and care.”
Many patients she visited had been on holiday in the county when they became ill and family and friends have had to travel home, leaving the patient feeling isolated and lonely. In cases such as these, it can be simple things like having a chat or getting them a new book that could make a real difference to their stay in the hospital.
Sophie has also spent time on placement at Truro Cathedral and with homeless charity St Petroc’s Society. St Petroc’s Society provide accommodation, support, advice, training and resettlement services to single homeless people in Cornwall. She spent around 4 months volunteering with the charity in a resource centre in Truro that also provides overnight accommodation for the homeless during the coldest months of the year.
Whilst at Truro Cathedral, Sophie shadowed Canon Alan Bashforth for two days per week, took part in the evening Eucharist services, and led Morning Prayer.
With another year to go of the internship, Sophie is looking forward to many more experiences. She says:
“The way the internship works is great, it gives us the flexibility to gain the experiences that we feel we need. All my placements so far have been positive. Each of them has provided me with something I can apply or adapt to parish ministry. For example, the chaplaincy at the hospital is all about providing pastoral care at that specific moment in their lives whereas in parishes, you may support them through a whole situation in their lives.”
“I’ve really enjoyed learning about the different aspects of work at the cathedral too, where there is a bigger need to balance the pastoral care of staff, congregation members and visitors as well as the leadership and organisation of events and services. You work on a larger scale at the cathedral, there are more people involved, more services and more events. It is interesting to see the difference and similarities between life at the cathedral and in the parishes.”
Sophie is part of the Way2 Intern community based in Stithians. You can find out more about Way2 here http://www.trurodiocese.org.uk/resource-collection/way2-community/