Welfare Team

What the Ministerial Fellowship Welfare Team offers
The Welfare Team helps to carry forward one of the purposes of the Ministerial Fellowship: "to afford counsel, sympathy and aid to ministers in their work." Our remit includes active and retired ministers, lay pastors and ministry students on the GA roll. For a minister seeking support, the Welfare Team is a listening ear, a first port of call, with colleagues who have training and/or experience in counselling/pastoral care.

Essentially it is a responsive service, rather than a pro-active body. We rely on all ministers to take responsibility for keeping us informed of concerns and needs (their own, or others), so we can respond accordingly. Due to the geographical spread of ministers, we communicate mainly via telephone, email or post, rather than face-to-face (although this may sometimes be possible).

Welfare Team members are able to :
~ respond to both a minister's concern about a colleague, and a self-referral by a minister
~ respond to news of illness, bereavement, other losses, work stress, life changes
~ support a confidential referral to the GA's Chief Officer for an active minister who cannot afford counselling (please note: this is only available after accessing the Employment Assistance Programme)
~ signpost other counselling options (i.e. in the private sector) for those that can afford it
~ signpost possible sources of spiritual direction / supervision
~ pass generic concerns of colleagues, confidentially, to the MF committee, for consideration
~ liaise with the GA Officer for Ministry and Congregational Support, Simon Bland
~ signpost possible access to crisis financial support
~ liaise with the Secretary of Ministers' Benevolent Society. Please note only ministers who have joined MBS can receive financial support. Please contact Don Phillips, Secretary of the MBS to join.

As a team we take confidentiality seriously. At times we may need to share personal information amongst ourselves/with other support providers (i.e. MBS secretary). This is done on a 'needs to know' basis, with discretion and sensitivity.

Contact the Welfare Team:
Members of the Welfare Team are happy to be contacted by phone, email or letter. Please see the GA Directory for contact details, or email via the message buttons below.

Sheena Gabriel:

John Harley:

Maud Robinson:

John Carter:

Ant Howe:

Covenant Groups offer valuable peer support for ministers. We are hoping to make these more accessible and Michael Dadson has agreed to be the liaison person; if you would like to join a Covenant Group or need advice on setting one up, please contact him.

We also remind colleagues of the MF e-mail chat-line and Facebook Group, which can be sources of support and guidance during difficult times.

The Unitarian & Free Christian branch of 'Unite Faith Workers' (Union) also offers support /advice for those who sign up. Please contact Ralph Catts for more info.


Ministerial Welfare Support via The General Assembly
A variety of support is available and it is intended to review our assistance regularly to reflect needs.

The Ministry and Congregational Support Officer - Simon Bland - is available to help navigate the provision and offer a confidential source of support and signposting.
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Employment Assistance Programme
(recently rebranded as ESP but offering the same services)
Confidential support service telephone: 0800 371 540.
This is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 355 days a year service and enables access to specialist information on a wide range of work-life issues: including access to specialist legal and financial advice, child and dependent care support, together with emotional support and counselling for a wide range of personal and work issues. The service also includes up to 6 sessions of face to face counselling. EAP is available to all ministers on the Roll, who are in employment or between ministries.

Additional Counselling
We recognise on occasion additional counselling (after EAP) can be beneficial, and subject to approval from Essex Hall a limited number of additional sessions can be arranged and costs covered. Funding for counselling may also be available to ministers who are newly retired (i.e. up to 2 years post-employment.)

In the first instance please contact Elizabeth Birtles - the MF Welfare Officer, so she can support your application to Essex Hall.

Resource Library
We are building a library of resource leaflets, books and DVDs covering a range issues that could be helpful to those in ministry. Suggestions for appropriate resources are welcomed, and access to this library is via Simon Bland.

Where issues arise between Ministers and Congregations possible mediation along the lines of the review and support methodology exists. Change management, new roles and responsibilities and governance reviews all offer points at which challenges can arise, help in navigating these issues at an early stage can minimise stress.

Whilst the provision of specific courses are unlikely to be cost effective, opportunities could arise where attendance at a course or training event can be of tremendous assistance, these can be facilitated by contacting Simon Bland. Please note: appropriate courses would include those related to welfare, rather than general interest or generic CPD courses.