SIM UK’s most important resource is its people and the reason it created a special team to support mission workers and families in their ministries — both in the UK and overseas.
Led by our coordinator Rob Eldred, the People Care team includes Cheryl Gibson as Family Adviser for families and TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and Phil Griffin as Health Coordinator.
“People Care is about building relationships with those God has placed in our care and in partnership with churches, we strive to ensure our mission workers and their families are equipped, cared for and able to grow throughout their mission service,” Rob explains.
“In sending people, SIM recognises the sacrifice and commitment of those sent cross-culturally to make disciples and we want to be good stewards of the people God has entrusted to us.”
Rob and his team provide online debriefs, crisis care and ongoing support for workers, plus training in areas such as resilience and burnout, as well as liaising closely with our mobilisers and helping during SIM UK’s orientation programme for new workers.
The People Care team was set up in 2018, dedicated to caring for our mission workers’ health; spiritually, physically and psychologically. The principles of People Care are:
- A genuine and intentional concern for people.
- People care is a whole organisational commitment.
- People care involves working in partnership.
- People care applies t every worker.
- People care is a flow of ongoing care from recruitment to retirement.
Support during a global lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic meant many mission workers returning to the UK had to delay their return; live with the uncertainty of getting flights and then leave quickly.
“All this impacted the way people left, meaning goodbyes and endings were cut short and they did not leave how they had hoped to,” recalls Rob.
“This was tough on those leaving and those being left and the people care team, alongside mobilisers, offered debriefs as part of the ongoing care.
“Coming alongside people and allowing them to process and grieve these losses was a crucial part of people care during this time. Doing this in partnership with the sending church also enabled them to understand what the mission worker was going through and what ongoing care was needed.”
The People Care team offered ‘crisis debriefs’ for mission workers feeling overstretched as their workload increased and colleagues left the field during lockdown.
“Crisis debriefs gives the chance for the mission worker to talk to someone objectively outside of the situation, helping to normalise the stress going on and find healthy ways to cope and receive further support to sustain them,” adds Rob.
People care applies to all workers, including the children sent through SIM UK and the team seeks to ensure the whole family is valued and supported as they serve in mission.
Connecting with families was also high priority for the people care team throughout the pandemic,
“Our family adviser Cheryl initially sent resources around our families to help equip them, such as home-schooling ideas or coping with anxiety during lockdown,” says Rob.
“Continuous support was offered in the form of online debriefs for children; sending cards of encouragement, and regular catch-up meetings to help prepare the whole family to return.”
Despite the difficulties of this past year, Rob says it has been a joy to see candidates coming through the process and to be involved in equipping them to serve.
This has included running sessions during orientation, such as staying healthy, TCK support and resilience.
“Learning together is an enriching time not just for our candidates, but for us also!” adds Rob.
By Kerry Allan
- For the People Care team as it offers support and care to mission workers and the mobilisation team.
- That the team will continue to serve with God’s grace during 2021.
- For People Care’s first re-entry seminar in March, aimed at helping those resettling in the UK, to transition well.