The growing community of people who identify as spiritual-not-religious now has its own register of spiritual caregivers
Initiated by the Spiritual Companions Trust, the new UK Register of Spiritual Caregivers (UKRSC) – launched today (Tuesday, 26 October) – represents a formal step to achieve parity with traditional faith communities, whose carers can work voluntarily or professionally in healthcare, education, prisons and other relevant sectors.
“Our intention is for our new Register of Spiritual Caregivers to provide a complementary service to the compassionate care already given by the carers and chaplains belonging to traditional religious communities,” says Dr William Bloom, CEO of the Spiritual Companions Trust.
“We admire and respect the provision of traditional religious carers and will work cooperatively with them in all situations where people are in distress, suffering or seeking spiritual support.”
Just how many people in Britain are in the spiritual-not-religious community is difficult to estimate, according to the Trust.
Research in 2013 indicated that about a fifth of people in the UK fitted into this category and, according to Professor Michael King of University College London, were more prone to mental health challenges.
Indications from the recent UK Census indicate that increasing numbers are leaving traditional religions but are not identifying as agnostic or atheist.
The Trust says there will, of course, be people who dispute the research, but it is certainly clear that “spiritual but not religious” represents a major strand of belief across the West.
The UKRSC will give this community access to spiritual carers who are aligned with their beliefs.
At the same time, it gives providers of care and education, such as hospitals and universities, a reliable register of skilled people who can step into voluntary and professional roles associated with pastoral care and chaplaincy.
The UKRSC already has 70 members on its register, which can be found here.
According to the UKRSC the core skill needed by a spiritual carer is to be an impeccable and compassionate listener.
“The heart of spiritual care is to be a quiet and benevolent presence, always engaged and listening”, says Dr Bloom.
The first requirement for members of the Register is that they have received a full training and achieved a qualification that includes rigorous and compassionate listening skills.
This will include qualified counsellors, psychotherapists, medics, nurses and social workers. The second crucial requirement of the UKRSC is that their members have an open-hearted and open-minded approach to spirituality and are always willing to support any client in exploring their own person-centred approach to spirituality.
The UKRSC is a project of the Spiritual Companions Trust, an educational charity that pioneered the first mainstream vocational qualification in spirituality and health (Crossfields Institute Level 3 Diploma in Practical Spirituality & Wellness – Ofqual Register Qual No: 601/8673/2 Sector Subject Area: Health and Social Care).
The Compassion Dialogues
To complement the launch of the register and provide relevant support, the UKRSC is hosting a monthly webinar, The Compassion Dialogues.
Each webinar will feature a guest specialising in a particular field of care, who will be interviewed by Dr Bloom.
Each conversation will explore how the guest first became interested in spiritual care, and their best insights and practices for delivering it.
The sessions are:
Dr Robert Holden — Compassion & Forgiveness in Everyday Life — 9 November
Lisa Anthony — Caring for Students, Teachers, Patients and Clients — 14 December
Simon Stedman — Mainstream Business, Utopian Communities & Suicide Help Lines — 11 January
Kate Spohrer — End of Life and Green Funerals — 8 February
Prof Paul Gilbert — The Compassionate Mind — 8 March
These webinars are open to the public and are being held by donation.