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Blog Post from the Chair of the Forum - Coming out of Covid - the contribution of spirituality

Dear Colleagues and Friends As we begin to emerge from the Covid crisis (perhaps ?) I wanted to share a few thoughts with you on the value and contribution of the Forum in these difficult times. I am immensely proud of the various faith traditions represented in the Forum and I believe that one of the ingredients which all our faith traditions share is that of hope. Hope that things will get better - that mental health can be restored, that the 150000 bereaved families can still find a sense of hope in spite of their loss that livelihoods can be restored, and that lives can be refocused and rebuilt. Hope as well that we can face up to current challenges in our world - for example, climate change as well as the injustices which riddle our society. In my other life over recent years I have been involved with supporting migrants in Calais as they face desperate decisions in putting their lives and those of their families at risk as they embark in flimsy boats to cross the channel. Essentially, the motivating factor is hope - that they will find sanctuary and safety in these dire situations. Hope has so often a spiritual base. It is associated with virtues such as gratitude and charity. Scioli (Hope and Spirituality in the Age of Anxiety) writes: 'Faith is the building block of hope'. The Hope spirituality assessment guidelines for spiritual assessment suggest questions that relate to sources of hope rather than questions to do with faith beliefs. Hope is of course linked with finding a sense of meaning and purpose - and the therapeutic approach of Viktor Frankl after World War II focused on finding meaning and purpose in the midst of intolerable suffering - surely a lesson for the post-Covid era. For me the second common denominator from our faith traditions is that of love and compassion - indeed all our faith beliefs have a clear moral compass. Compassion-based approaches to care are rooted in spirituality. How might we get these messages across in a post covid era when our national narrative is all too often about hostility and mistrust? These are the challenges in translating the commonality of our faith beliefs into a relevant and timely message for sustaining and promoting our mental health and of that with whom we come into contact. For this reason, I would be like to renew our earlier call for information on projects which demonstrate the ways in which a focus on spirituality can help to shape the post covid narrative in sustaining mental health. Please send across brief summary, including pictures and email and/or website if appropriate to A reminder- our next webinar will be facilitated by our trustee Ivor Moody on Thursday 15th July at 6.30 pm. Ivor will discuss the work of the long-standing Essex Mind and Spirit project - I hope that we can draw valuable lessons from Ivor's talk which can be replicated elsewhere. With best wishes Ben Bano Chair, National Spirituality, and Mental Health Forum

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