"St Andrew's is a place of care and hope"
Posted on Apr 5 2022 by Bobbie Kelly
A placement within the St Andrew’s Chaplaincy team has helped one man realise his “calling”, saying his experience gave him more “pastoral impact than the rest of his ordained ministry put together”.
Richard Kellows had been ordained in the Church of England for eight years, but just before the pandemic, he was forced to “re-evaluate” his life and the direction it was taking after experiencing a period of poor mental health.
Richard said: “Out of that period of time came a calling to Chaplaincy, building on previous pastoral care involvement as a vicar.”
So, as part of a postgraduate course in Chaplaincy he undertook a two-hundred-hour placement at St Andrew’s Healthcare.
He said: “I’ll be totally honest, I was somewhat apprehensive about doing my placement there. Mainly because I thought my calling was to acute healthcare chaplaincy, having already undertaken some work as a locum acute healthcare chaplain.
“But, finding a placement in the midst of a pandemic was not easy. Every hospital I approached said ‘no’, except St Andrew’s whose Lead Chaplain Philip Evans immediately said they would be delighted to have me.”
Richard began immediately and soon began to get to know patients and staff, becoming more and more embedded into the welcoming culture that is nurtured at St Andrew’s.
He said: “I can honestly say that I have often found myself feeling I was doing exactly what I should be doing in terms of life calling. I have heard sad stories, shocking stories, sometimes haunting stories.
“But, through it all I have found that the desire for human connection runs very deep indeed - through confusion, through past abuse, through past mistakes. In many senses I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that it feels as though I have had more pastoral impact in my time as St Andrew’s than the rest of my ordained ministry put together.”
Since then Richard has been appointed as a Mental Health Chaplain with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust (NHFT) but he insists he will always remain “enormously grateful to St Andrew’s” for his experience there.
He added: “I have found satisfaction in pretty much every minute of my time there, from a wonderful group of chaplains who are hugely committed to the patients that they care for, to the wide variety of diverse patients themselves that I have met and had the privilege of walking alongside through some extremely tough times.
“From the very dedicated teams of staff that care for patients day in day out on the wards, to the multidisciplinary teams of professionals who strive to work together for the good of the patients. I have found St Andrew’s to be a place of care and hope, even in very difficult circumstances.”