APA commissioned at Durham Cathedral

 Diane Bailey, Jaquie Atkinson, Bob Hopper, David Atkins - don the L plates of APA training completion

Diane Bailey, Jaquie Atkinson, Bob Hopper, David Atkins – don the L plates of APA training completion
The Diocese of Durham has again paid tribute to volunteers who work alongside the clergy, giving pastoral care. Authorised Pastoral Assistants (APAs) are commissioned for a five year period to support the clergy in caring for people. This can include vulnerable periods of their lives, for example in bereavement, illness or old age. This month (July) in Durham Cathedral, seven new APAs were commissioned and eleven re-commissioned, having signed up to carry out service for another five years. The APA scheme, which involves extensive training, was launched in the Diocese in 2001. Two of the churches involved are All Saints Hillside Church at Lobley Hill, Gateshead, and neighbour St Nicholas with Christ Church in nearby Dunston. The APAs include driving instructor Diane Bailey, who runs a youth group, and carer Jacquie Atkinson. This is Diane’s first time as an APA and Jacquie’s second. Part of Jacquie’s work is to run a bereavement support drop-in on a Monday at St Nicholas church hall in Dunston. Jacquie, whose husband David is the vicar of St Nicholas, said: “It is a very rewarding job to do. It’s all about making space for people who are vulnerable who need help and care. “When we came to Dunston, I become aware that there was not much support for bereaved people after they had gone through the funeral stage. It’s fine for the first few weeks because family and friends come round but after that it can be daunting. The need continues to be there.” Diane, one of the pastoral care team at Hillside Church, said: “I have been coming to Hillside church for 25 years since I got married and throughout that time I have been involved in pastoral care. “I wanted to back up the knowledge I already had and explore new avenues in pastoral care. Any point where you are giving of your time and listening to people’s stories, and come alongside them at a time of difficulty, a time of need, sadness and bereavement, can be very rewarding.” The Revd David Atkinson, vicar of St Nicholas Dunston, said: “There is such a broad ministry that needs to be done. There are people in our congregations who have some things they do better than the clergy and it is a case of empowering people to fill the gaps.“ The Revd Canon Bob Hopper, vicar of All Saints Hillside, added: “It is a principle that ministry is not confined to the man or woman in a collar. It is about everyone.“
 APA commissioned at Durham Cathedral

APA commissioned at Durham Cathedral
Alison Moore, Adviser in Pastoral Care and Counselling, Diocese of Durham, said: “All church members are expected to love and care for others – that’s just part of being a Christian. But some people are particularly interested in caring for others, and are prepared to take some extra responsibility in giving care. Because APAs are local, they provide a link between church and community. Of course, these days when there are fewer clergy, this ministry is increasingly important. “The APA training helps them develop skills and good practice, as well as learning to listen really carefully to others. There are still some places left for the next course beginning in October.”

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Those newly commissioned:

Diane BaileyHillside (Lobley Hill and Marley Hill)
Valerie BrydenSt Helen Auckland
Maureen DewsHillside (Lobley Hill and Marley Hill)
Linda DottBlackhall and Hesleden and Castle Eden
Maureen GwilliamCockfield, Lynesack and Evenwood
Maureen PressleyDarlington, St Hilda and St Columba
Mary RobinsonLynesack

Those newly re-commissioned:

Jacqueline AtkinsonDunston, St Nicholas with Christ Church
Anita FosterMiddleton St George and Sadberge
Enid GreyBillingham Team
Gill JonesHaughton le Skerne
Yvonne KaneBillingham Team
Elizabeth RoundSpennymoor
Mary ScottHart and Elwick Hall
Eileen ShepherdMiddleton St George and Sadberge
Elizabeth SlowtherWashington
Patricia VaughanStranton, All Saints
Georgine WhitfieldHaughton le Skerne

Images from the APA service and profile pieces can be viewed here

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