Bishop Richard welcomes new mental health chaplain

Rev Julian Raffay was welcomed as Mersey Care NHS Trust’s new chaplain at a licensing service officiated by the Bishop of Warrington.

The Mersey Care NHS Trust provides mental health, learning disability and addiction services across Liverpool, Sefton and Kirkby, caring for more than 36,000 people each year. Research (*) shows that a high proportion of people who are part of a faith community tend to recover quicker and better, often because of the support network that exists from their own particular church or religious group.

The faiths represented in Mersey Care’s team include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Free Church, Muslim and Buddhist and it also facilitates the services of professionals from a broad variety of other faiths and beliefs. Mersey Care is the only mental health trust in the North West to continue to expand the size of its faith team.

Julian takes up the post of Specialist Chaplain (Research, Education and Development). He comes from Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust where he worked as chaplain team leader and before that he was a vicar in two parishes in Sheffield.

At a service for patients, carers, staff, and board members held at the Broadoak Unit in Broadgreen, Liverpool, head of the trust’s spiritual and pastoral care team Michael Crilly said: “It takes a great deal of courage to uproot and move from across the Pennines to follow your calling to join Mersey Care, the only trust in the North West to grow its spiritual care team in size over the past five years.”

Mersey Care’s spiritual and pastoral care team supports service users, their families, carers and staff, around a wide range of spiritual, faith and religious issues and pastoral concerns. It helps those who do not see themselves as belonging to any faith, as well as those who are regular members of their own faith communities.

Julian has experience of working with churches and faith communities to build greater awareness of mental health issues as well as the benefits of spiritual care to healthcare providers. He has also published a number of articles on the subject. Julian is planning to conduct research in churches as well as within the trust.

Julian said: “I’m delighted to be licensed to work in Mersey Care, an organisation which puts the spiritual and pastoral care of all of its service users, carers and staff as such a high priority in supporting their health and wellbeing.”

Julian and his wife Marie, who is Christian Aid’s volunteering manager, have moved to Allerton, Liverpool. Julian enjoys walking, cycling, photography, computers and socialising in his spare time.

*Research quoted is by Koenig, King and Carson in Handbook of religion and health (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Photo: Rev Julian Raffay (third from left) welcomed by Mersey Care chairman Beatrice Fraenkel, Bishop of Warrington Right Rev Richard Blackburn and executive director of nursing and secure services Ray Walker.