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Former clinical support worker to begin new role as chaplain

‚ÄčA Norwich father-of-two who joined Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) as a clinical support worker is about start a new role with the organisation as a chaplain in Suffolk.

Sam Chirwa began his pastoral training in 2000 in his native Malawi and was ordained on 10 October last year following additional training in England.

For the past five years, he has been a volunteer chaplain for NSFT in addition to his full-time paid role which since September 2017 has been Equality and Diversity Lead and Trainer.

From 1 April, he will become NSFT's Chaplain / Spiritual and Pastoral Care Lead for Suffolk, based in Endeavour House, Ipswich, in succession to Kate Holmes who is retiring after five years in post. Julie Warren carries out the same role for the Trust in Norfolk.

"I'm looking forward to my new role and I'm excited by it," he said. "I don't regard it as a job but as a service to meet the needs of our service users and staff, which was why I've been an enthusiastic and long-serving volunteer chaplain here.

"I've been a minister of religion for many years and have worked with people from different religions and also those without faith. As an equality and diversity professional, I am passionate about promoting equality and treating people fairly.

"I joined the Trust in November 2012 as a clinical support worker in Secure Services which is where I first became interested in being a volunteer chaplain because some people there wanted to go to church but couldn't because they were detained.

"In my new role, I'll be available to support all service users and staff in Suffolk, whether they have faith or no faith. Although I'll be based in Endeavour House, I plan to spend most of my time getting out and about all over the county to wherever we have service users or staff.

"Some people simply want to have a chat or appreciate spending time with someone who is happy to listen to them. They tend to trust me and regard me as a neutral and independent, which means they often open up about things they are reluctant to share with others.

"As part of providing person-centred care, I want all of our care plans to set out what is meaningful to each service user in spiritual terms because there is plenty of evidence to show that if these needs are met, they may recover more quickly."

Sam can take services such as Holy Communion but does not plan to use his "Reverend" title all of the time because he believes some people will find it off-putting, and his role is about supporting people of all faiths and none, not just Christians.

Sam, who is 39, has wanted to be a chaplain since he was boy. He has also worked as a director of an orphanage in Zimbabwe and as a missionary in several countries in Africa. He first came to England in 2007 to train in Nottingham in building websites.

At NSFT, he has also worked as a clinical support worker at Hellesdon Hospital and joined the Trust's Equality and Diversity Group when it was formed in 2013. He has been trained in how to support staff who are experiencing stress or who may be at risk of psychological injury after experiencing a traumatic incident at work.

Sam and his wife Tendai have been married since 2010, live in Norwich and have daughters aged four and seven. Tendai used to work as a staff nurse for NSFT and currently works for the organisation as a bank nurse.

Caption: Sam is pictured in The Haven, the chapel at Hellesdon Hospital.

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