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27 Jul 2021

‘Nobody should walk this journey alone.’

New Selwyn Sprott chaplain makes a difference through one-to-one connection and volunteer engagement

Selwyn Sprott village in Wellington welcomed its first ever resident chaplain in December 2020, with the appointment of Wendy Davidson. Wendy’s now drawing on her strong links within the local community to create new opportunities for residents’ social connection and engagement-in-life – as a complement to the spiritual and pastoral support she provides to the wider Sprott community of residents, their family members, volunteers and staff teams.

In her capacity as Seniors’ Pastoral Care Missioner for the nearby St Mary's Anglican Church in Karori, Wendy has been a familiar face at Sprott for some time and as a member of the visiting group of parish volunteers who regularly deliver all-faith worship services, weekly communion and morning tea within the care home. Whilst this outreach ministry still continues in conjunction with her new chaplaincy role, Wendy’s now able to use her wide community connections to much greater effect for the benefit of residents.   

She’s recently introduced volunteers from the parish’s ‘Crafty Conversations’ knitting group, which is a hugely successful social engagement initiative that Wendy set up two years ago at a local cafe to support those who may have been recently bereaved or who may be isolated or just needing some company. The group produces a wide range of knitted garments, rugs and blankets for new-born babies, to be donated to the local community and (though a church connection) to solo parents in Kaitaia.

Members of this group have started visiting Selwyn Sprott as part of a ‘coffee and chat’ programme, taking in barista coffee and talking with residents over their knitting. Residents very much enjoy this opportunity to connect with others from the wider community in a meaningful way and on a one-to-one basis, and some have also been encouraged to rekindle their interest in the traditional handicraft. Wendy intends that this befriending initiative will be further expanded to include more volunteers, with new friendships made which will lead to the visitors popping in to see residents in between times. Her mission is to ensure that residents always have someone to come in to visit them when their families can’t be there, as people can still experience loneliness despite their shared living environment. ‘We all need company, the human touch and to make a connection, especially if you’re frail and find it difficult to communicate,’ she says. 

Family members and staff equally appreciate having a chaplain on-site who’s able to get to know each resident and what’s important to them whether spiritually or otherwise; they value the holistic care and fellowship that Wendy offers and which contribute so much to an individual’s overall wellbeing. Families particularly find comfort in Wendy’s presence and pastoral support at difficult times – regardless of their faith beliefs.

As Wendy says: ‘It’s humbling to know that just being there – talking, engaging or asking how they are – makes a difference to people. Nobody should walk this journey alone, and it’s important that we bear one another’s burden. That’s what Selwyn Sprott does – holds hands and listens to people. It makes a difference.’

The Faith and Tikanga Maori, Tikanga Pakeha and Tikanga Pasifika support that the Foundation offers across all its villages is a distinguishing feature of Selwyn’s work and Mission. Our chaplains work across both residential care and independent living and are available on-call 24/7 for all those in need, irrespective of people’s faith background or spiritual outlook.

A wide range of volunteering opportunities are available across our villages. If you’re interested in a volunteer role with The Selwyn Foundation, please visit our volunteering webpage, email volunteering@selwynfoundation.org.nz or speak to our Community Progammes Manager on 0800 473 599.

(Above) Chaplain Wendy Davidson (centre) and residents of Selwyn Sprott village; Karori Anglican Parish volunteers and village residents.