Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border has welcomed an initiative between The Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – in partnership with a Christian charity to provide free retreats for people who were frontline carers during the Covid pandemic.
Caring for the Carers is the idea of the Rev Prof Stephen Wright, spiritual director of the Sacred Space Foundation, a non-profit, non-denominational retreat centre and charitable trust located in the Lake District National Park.
The proposals would see free retreats offered for 45 NHS staff members and others from the county at Rydal Hall the Diocese’s Christian Conference and Retreat Centre, near Ambleside. The hall would offer discounted rates for those bookings.
Stephen explained: “We’ve all clapped for our carers and now it’s time we proactively cared for them too. That is what this project is all about.
“We’re well aware of the burnout and exhaustion that so many are facing and so we just want to do our best to help their recovery in some small way. It will be an opportunity for individuals to recharge their batteries in whatever way they want to: to read, to walk, to enjoy Rydal’s grounds, to talk one-to-one or in groups. It would be completely up to them.”
Currently 14 full-board rooms have been reserved at Rydal Hall for three nights from September 21, with a further 31 rooms booked for another three nights from December 7.
A fundraising drive is now underway with just over £7,000 having already been pledged. Organisers are looking to raise a total of £20,000 which would cover the cost of the 45 rooms with an option to offer up more retreat places in 2022.
Stephen, who has a long history in nursing and who is a visiting professor of nursing at the University of Cumbria, is also writing to prominent Cumbrian companies and grant-making bodies asking that they consider supporting the scheme.
Meanwhile he is also contacting NHS Trusts across the county, in order that they can promote the project to staff. Places will be offered up on a first come, first served basis.
Commenting on the initiative, Dr Hudson said:
“I am fully supportive of this brilliant initiative to provide carers welcome respite after an extremely difficult period. This is a great way to show appreciation for NHS staff who have been at the vanguard of our protection against the virus, from the first-class treatment that they have provided to covid patients to their brilliant work rolling out the vaccine we have a lot to thank them for.
I applaud Rev Prof Stephen Wright for developing these plans and all those who have donated to the fund so far. It is this kind of charity which shows the power of human kindness, especially in the face of such adversity.”
The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for health and medical ethics, has welcomed the plans.
Bishop James said: “We are well aware of the huge sacrifices made by all of our frontline health workers during the pandemic. Day after day they have gone above and beyond and for that they have our huge thanks.
“So it is only right that we look to support them in whatever way we can, with so many having been left exhausted by their efforts over this year and a half. I shall also be writing to all of our churches across the Diocese to bring this project to their attention in case they feel moved to offer financial help.
“My prayer is that we see a groundswell of support for this initiative and that, as a result, there are carers who are able to enjoy some much needed time for relaxation and recuperation.”
A crowdfunding page has also been set up through which people can offer donations or also via “The Bishop of Carlisle and Sacred Space Caring for the Carers Fund”, sort code 30-96-26, bank account number 74754760.