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Rebecca in front of stained glass window in Airedale's chapel

This Inter Faith Week, the Chaplaincy team at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust celebrates welcoming a Buddhist Chaplain to the team.

Lead Chaplain at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Liz Maitland, says:

“I’m really happy to welcome Rebecca into our multi-faith team.

“Having a Buddhist Chaplain broadens and enriches the support that we can offer to patients, families and colleagues.

“In the Chaplaincy team, we have members who support distinctive faith groups, but we all work together and learn from each other.

“This Inter Faith Week, we are celebrating how we all work together across different religions to provide the best service we can.”

Buddhist Priest and Mental Health Nurse, Rebecca Habergham has joined the Chaplaincy team as a Bank Chaplain to help provide spiritual and pastoral support to patients, visitors and staff members.

Rebecca says:

“Whatever their spiritual beliefs, patients, their families and colleagues can come to me to have an informal chat about whatever is on their mind.

“Patients can often be faced with a big change when coming into hospital and they often start thinking of questions they may have never considered before so it is important to be supportive and offer a listening ear whilst people are going through that.”

Rebecca started meditating at the age of 18 and practices Soto Zen Buddhism. Following her training as a Buddhist Practitioner, Rebecca became ordained as a Buddhist Priest in May 2022.

In addition to supporting patients, Rebecca has also started a staff “space to stop” on alternative Wednesdays to give colleagues the chance to pause by joining in a 30-minute guided reflection.

This is a non-faith led session that is part of the Chaplaincy team’s pastoral support offer.

The quiet session has been inspired by Rebecca’s experience of Buddhist retreats which can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months:

“During my last retreat, I spent six weeks practicing silence and meditation along with others. We lived, cooked and cleaned together mainly in silence.

“Whether you practice Buddhism or not, silence can be a really important tool as it can give you a chance to give you a moment to reset.

“Working in healthcare can be very fast-paced so it is important that we give ourselves some time to stop.”

Rebecca has worked as a Mental Health Nurse for over a decade and has previously worked for Domestic Violence Keighley and Supported Housing Groups.

Rebecca also encourages staff to come and have a quick chat about anything that might be on their mind:

“The Chaplaincy team are here for staff as well as patients.

“Whether it’s about stress, burnout, worries, personal or work life, having a quick chat can give colleagues a space to stop and reflect.”

Rebecca is available on site at Airedale General Hospital every other Wednesday, between 10am – 4pm.

Inter Faith Week takes place between 13-20 November and aims to increase awareness of the different faith communities in the UK and the contribution they all make to society. For more information, visit https://www.interfaithweek.org/.