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Three Felixstowe churches’ nurses scheme sets example for others to follow

PUBLISHED: 15:51 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:51 17 October 2017

From left, Diane Smith Methodist minister, John Gillett mental health nurse, Rev Mark Reid, Lorna Bellamy, parish nurse, and Rev Caroline Allen, vicar at St Mary’s. Walton. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

From left, Diane Smith Methodist minister, John Gillett mental health nurse, Rev Mark Reid, Lorna Bellamy, parish nurse, and Rev Caroline Allen, vicar at St Mary’s. Walton. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

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An innovative nursing scheme helping people cope with a wide range of health care problems has been hailed as a trailblazing example for other communities in the county to follow.

Bishop Martin Seeley with parish nurses, John Gillett mental health nurse, right, Lorna Bellamy parish nurse, left, ministers and volunteers at Maidstone Road Baptist Church, Walton. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY Bishop Martin Seeley with parish nurses, John Gillett mental health nurse, right, Lorna Bellamy parish nurse, left, ministers and volunteers at Maidstone Road Baptist Church, Walton. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Financed by grants, personal gifts and fundraising events, the parish nurses project is backed by three churches in the Walton area of Felixstowe and is enhancing the health care of people of all ages.

The aim of the Parish Nursing scheme, a movement started in the UK in 2004, is to provide an integrated approach to health care and healing.

At an annual celebration of the scheme last Sunday at Maidstone Road Baptist Church, Walton, an additional nurse for the project was presented with his badge. Maidstone Road, along with St Mary’s Anglican Church and Seaton Road Methodist Church, is involved in Walton Parish Nursing (WPN).

Rev Dr Mark Reid, pastor of Maidstone Road Baptist Church, a trustee of WPN, said: ‘‘Through the work of our staff and volunteers we are able to minister to the physical, mental and spiritual needs of local people in Walton.

‘‘We do this through drop-in clinics at a local community cafe, a housing complex for the elderly and a pop-up shop, chair-based-exercise classes, leg care, a group for working age disabled and more recently a group for those with mental health issues.’’

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, which covers almost all of Suffolk, was among those who attended the celebration service.

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘Being able to address spiritual and emotional needs as well as the physical, and to see each person in the context of their family and closest relationships, provides a much-needed multi-faceted approach to health and healing.

“I am delighted to have been involved in this commissioning service for Parish Nurses, and to support their very welcome whole person approach to health care.”

At the event, John Gillett, a mental health nurse, was presented with his badge from Parish Nursing UK.

He is now officially recognised as a parish nurse and he will be working to develop plans to help people in Walton with mental health issues reach an optimum quality of life.

Mr Gillett serves with Lorna Bellamy, a community nurse, as the two part-time staff in WPN.

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