While many of us have grappled with a new instability in life and our immediate context (emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially etc) – our Korus Connect research with almost 200 participating Chaplains indicates they have remained a constant support in their school community. Indeed, their positive presence has helped to impart hope, encouragement and positivity to students, staff and parents.
From January to June, our Chaplains participated in a total of 62578 group sessions and pastoral encounters. Over half of these interactions were with students. Other significant groups, who benefited from the psychosocial support of Chaplains, include school staff (around 20% of interactions) and parents, guardians and caregivers (also representing around 20% of the cohort).
Our Korus Connect research also affirmed the need for Chaplains to journey with students on a longer term basis for positive wellbeing. The majority of students had already identified the provision of ‘ongoing support’ from a Chaplain as their most valued role, but since the start of the pandemic there has been a further 8% increase in students seeking this ‘ongoing support’. In the COVID-19 environment, two thirds of all students are continuing a longer and deeper engagement with their Chaplain to support them in achieving positive psychosocial wellbeing, and referrals.
Another key shift with the pandemic is that new needs and psychosocial issues have presented. Most Chaplains have been required to invest extra time supporting staff and parents/guardians and caregivers. This is because during lockdown, teachers and caregivers have had to navigate new challenges around home schooling, adopting new technologies to enable social supports, connections and conversations.