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New parish nurse: “there’s a special feeling about St Matthew’s. You can tell God’s there”

A recent appointee to the influential Parish Nursing Project at St Matthew’s Carver Street in Sheffield is calling for more volunteers to help boost the initiative.

Louise Smith started her position in October last year following a career in nursing spanning 37 years. Having worked as a Registered Nurse in a Coronary Care Unit before doing midwifery training, she went to work in a Neonatal Unit.

Talking about what drew her to the role, Louise said she felt a strong calling to apply:

“I’d first seen an article about the project in the Nursing Times around 5 years ago, thinking it sounded great but I didn’t want to leave the NHS at the time. However, it stayed with me and kept coming back to me.

“I went to the Open Day and knew I wanted to apply, so when I retired at the end of August I went forward for interview. Father Grant Naylor, Michaela Suckling (Lead Parish Nurse) and Dawn Stephens (Regional Nurse Coordinator) were on the panel and I loved talking with them – it didn’t feel like an interview!

“I was delighted to be offered the role via phone call when I got home, and I started my role on a three-day symposium with Parish Nursing Ministry UK learning all about the speciality, meeting the leadership team and fellow Parish Nurses. Everyone has been so welcoming and it’s such a warm place. When you go inside St Matthew’s there’s a special feeling to it; you can tell God’s there.”

The Annual Parish Nursing Project Update has been released as the project heads into its fifth year. The initiative has recently seen the departure of Marjorie Skidmore and Maria Elliot Hill to embark on new projects, but with significant interventions continuing to help support those in need.

Through outreach work and a presence on the Parish Nursing stall in Sheffield’s Moor Market, the service has seen 500 clients so far in 2024, made possible with the generous support of over 150 volunteer nurse hours plus 774 hours from other volunteers.  

The breakdown of interventions is as follows:

936Reducing social isolation
299Mental health
174Professional liaison
295Signposting to other services
180Spiritual interactions
86Crisis intervention
3Safeguarding referrals to adult social care

Louise says listening to people is a key part of her work, especially when people are struggling:

“People are lonely and listening to them is sometimes the best thing you can do. Knowing where to direct people and signposting is key, so that’s what we learn about quite a lot.

“Michaela and I work really closely together. We’ve really gelled as a team and I think that’s really important because we have the same vision. We want to really help people with outreach work. We do need more volunteers. We’re lucky to have some fantastic volunteers but we’re hoping for more as well.

“Feedback is important and we’ve been blessed to receive positive messages from people we’ve had, so we are hopefully making a difference. We want to grow in knowledge and help as many people as we can.”

You can read the full report here.

To support the work of the Parish Nurses you can make a one off donation or regular contribution by BACS:

Name: St Matthews PCC

Account Number: 03996810

Sort Code: 30-97-51

Reference: Nurses 

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