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Finding friendship and faith with Prayer Care

Building Christian community and bringing people together is at the heart of Church Army’s Inside Out campaign. Find out how its Thanet Centre of Mission in Kent is ministering to those in care homes ...

Building Christian community and bringing people together is at the heart of Church Army’s Inside Out campaign. Find out how its Thanet Centre of Mission in Kent is ministering to those in care homes

Living in a care home can at times be a very lonely and isolating experience for many people.

But here in Kent, Evangelist, Andrew Chadwick, and Prayer Care Co-ordinator, Margaret Hawkins, have worked with the local churches to form a Prayer Care team. They regularly visit care homes in the area where they befriend residents and share their faith.

Originally formed back in 2007, the team now has 25 volunteers who visit seven different care homes. Their vision is to bless the care homes’ staff, residents and their families, while demonstrating God’s love to them.

Andrew said: “When I first started work here in Thanet, part of my job was to get alongside the local churches and help them engage in mission. The area has a high percentage of retired people, so Prayer Care is really meeting a need.

“During our visits we spend time chatting with people, as well as trying to share the Good News about Jesus Christ through craft, songs and games.

“We also put on special events throughout the year, such as pancake parties, and Evangelist-in-Training, Stuart Budden, has joined team training events and carol singing.

“Prayer Care has also helped churches in the area to work together and has equipped people in evangelism.

“As a team we meet together regularly for training and to share the challenges and encouragements we are experiencing. By trying to build genuine Christian community within the team, we hope and pray it will then naturally overflow into the care homes when we visit.”

What the residents say

Maisy, 90, said: “I think the Prayer Care team are wonderful. Whatever the weather they come and visit us. Although I am very well looked after, being in a care home can be quite boring, so I really appreciate chatting with new people.”

Fred, who was an RAF engineer for the Spitfires during the Battle of Britain in World War Two, said: “The Prayer Care team visit us regularly and they are always very friendly and caring. Sometimes they do activities with us and I really enjoyed it when we planted spring bulbs and then watched them grow. The daffodils and tulips were lovely.”

What the volunteers say

Margaret Hawkins, Prayer Care Coordinator and Lay Reader from Birchington, said: “I have been involved in Prayer Care since 2008 along with a number of other people from my church.

“Having been a primary school teacher for many years, it has been a nice change to work with older people and I find it very fulfilling. Andrew has also provided the Prayer Care team with really helpful training and spiritual direction.”

Mary Hewitt, a Prayer Care volunteer from Our Lady Star of the Sea in Broadstairs, said: “I first heard about Prayer Care when a lady at one of our church meetings told me about it.

“I work as a carer with older people, and therefore felt it was something I could do to serve others. I find older people so interesting to sit and be with.

“Prayer Care has also encouraged churches in the area to work together and it has been good to meet new people.”

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