Ruth Radley Link Letter no.33 June 2021

Well hello there,

Greetings once again from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where we are still plodding on, encouraged by news of vaccine programmes going well. Gradual lifting of lockdowns means that some coping mechanisms have returned – even if we are freezing while we are doing them (having a drink or a meal with friends outside!), we are very grateful!

Last time I shared with you about virtual Christmas, this time it’s virtual Easter! We made a very short Easter service which was shared online and starred an amazing patient, who learned part of the Easter Story the day before to share it on the film! Watch it here if you would like.

An Easter garden I made with a patient for the virtual Easter service.

We also made some activity sheets that we encouraged siblings at home to do and share photos with their hospitalised sibling. I had many comments about there not being any chicks this year – staff really have missed the joy and hope that they bring. Paul (my boss) and I have chatted and we hope still to have chicks this year, not as an Easter project but as something to lift spirits and bring hope as soon as we are allowed to have gatherings again. People have greeted this news happily, and we realise just what an important part of our hospital life they are. I am shortly to start the search for good homes for when we are able to do it again, somewhere they can be free range and enjoy life! 

Do you ever wonder what a chaplain does? We have produced a short video to share more of our work – check me out as an avatar! We have also produced posters to go onto the wards and around the hospital using these avatars and a short quote from one of us too: see here. We will be doing more filming in a few weeks for another film sharing the enormous breadth of what we do. Our role seems to be growing by the minute, I am not sure we will ever do one film which captures everything that we do!

Soon we will hold our annual memorial service. Once again this will be a virtual affair. Packs have been sent out to families containing a soil pellet, eco plant pots and forget-me-not seeds. As lockdown has eased slightly, we are also inviting people to come to the hospital garden to collect a gift and chat (socially distanced) with a chaplain. We are so aware of how important these events are, and for the need for the personal touch. We will also once again have chaplains on the end of phones for those who do not wish to, or who are unable to, come in person. This will happen after the service has ended. We do not expect a huge number of people, but it is worth it for any who do come.

We prepared gifts for families ahead of our online memorial service.

Over this last year, we have been unable to celebrate our different festivals by gathering people. I have shared with you about Christmas and Easter, but we have many other festivals that we celebrate around our trust as well. Back in March we participated in some modern art – spray painting – and the finished articles are soon to go up on walls around the hospital. This was to celebrate the Hindu festival of colours, Holi. Ordinarily we would throw coloured powder at each other, but that isn’t possible socially distanced, so this was our alternative, with everything being wiped between people and social distancing between anyone joining in. It went down really well and the boards are going to be put up in the hospitals. In our mental health unit the young people were incredibly creative, and we enjoyed watching their joy and creative spirits being let loose with the paints.

Boards decorated for the Hindu festival of colours, Holi.

Last year, I was blessed by a lady in one of my link churches who felt that the time had come to stop driving – she very generously gave me her car! Sadly it was written off in December, but I was able to get a new car with those funds. Quite simply, I wouldn’t have been able to do all that I have done in dropping things off at our volunteers’ houses and collecting them again made up into nice gift packs for so many festivals, which have been so important to so many. We have given candles for Diwali, fruit, honey and biscuits for Eid al Fitr and Adha, mindfulness postcards and Mandala colouring for Vesak, sunflower seeds for Vaisakhi, and we hope that we may be able to do some kind of gatherings for Eid al Adha and Rosh Hashanah later this year. These gifts have been so well received, and have gone some way to encouraging many in this tough time.

With Elizabeth, who so generously gave me her car.

We recently had a parent who was so grateful that her child made such a good recovery that she asked friends and relatives for donations to chaplaincy here so that children could be given Eid gifts. Henieh and I are making our way around wards sharing these presents. The best encouragement so far is a little one, who has not been toddling long and has long term serious respiratory problems, toddling around the ward clutching her gift with a huge smile on her face! I love being able to help others celebrate and being able to welcome others into our Christmas and Easter celebrations as well. It’s amazing seeing how well this is able to happen, and a huge privilege to be a part of it.

Gifts shared for various different faith festivals.

As ever, thank you once again for your continuing support, both financial and in so many other ways. As we come to (we hope) the end of restrictions, your continuous support and encouragement continues to mean so much. Please do pray for safety over this time.

Take care, and I hope to meet you all soon.

Ruth

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