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Clergy Wellbeing: Taking holiday in 2021

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In a recent poll of fifty London clergy, 72% had not taken any holiday since lockdown. This is a much higher percentage than in some other dioceses which have been polled. It may reflect the sense that whilst it’s still difficult or even impossible to travel for a ‘real’ holiday, it’s also harder in London to get away for the day to somewhere restful and refreshing. People are probably therefore saving their holiday for a time when they can more easily get away.

The difficulty, however, is that with existing travel plans cancelled, perhaps a surge of people making new plans as quarantines are lifted, and continuing uncertainty about how the next phase will look and how long it will last, the time when it’s possible to get away might not come very soon at all.

Drawing on her experience with the Tragedy and Congregations project, the Revd Hilary Ison has observed that after an extended period of time during which people have responded heroically to the pandemic, many are now tired, emotional and frustrated, and their energy levels severely depleted, just when they are being asked to be creative all over again in order to develop a ‘new normal’.

Finding ways to stop working and to rest now is therefore essential.

The Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s in Limehouse is offering clergy and their families the opportunity to stay at a subsidised rate for a time of rest and refreshment during the summer months of July and August. Full details and how to book can be found here.

In a recent webinar with James Lawrence from CPAS the following resource was signposted: ‘Getting the Most out of a Holiday in Lockdown’, with contributions from people in many different configurations of household. James also pointed to the following examples of how people have found new ways to take a break:

‘We were due to go to Italy so have designated our time to have only Italian food, watch ‘Italian’ films (that includes the Godfather and the Italian Job!) and I’m learning Italian using an app.’

‘We invested money we would usually have spent away on buying a BIG Lego kit that we then spent time making as a family (doing a bag each).’

‘We set up our caravan and had a few nights on holiday in the garden’;

‘We’re re-planning our summer holiday at home … We’ve gone to Cornwall the past few years and were due to go back again. We’re thinking about what food to get in (pasties, scones, ice cream), we’re planning to set up the paddling pool and get some sand for a beach. It won’t be the same, but hopefully it will be a break and we’re having fun thinking about it creatively!’

In the past, some of our parishes have been creative in transforming their church buildings into a beach destination or rainforest environment and providing a ‘holiday’ for those from their community who cannot go on holiday in the conventional sense. Perhaps there is inspiration to be found there!

However we do it, at a time when a high percentage of clergy are reporting their predominant feeling as exhaustion, it is essential that we find ways to take a break.

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