Hoops, hope and a helping hand

Dave HallByDave Hall

Hoops, hope and a helping hand

The tranquil croquet lawn at the College of St Barnabas has seen little action this summer – another casualty of Covid-19!

The college is still a haven for some 60 elderly people, however, just as Canon William Cooper planned when he started the home in 1895.

‘Despite restrictions on visitors, and face-masks hiding the features of the staff, it is still a place to which Anglican clergy can retire and feel relaxed,’ explained Mike Herbert, a manager at the college.

The virus forced the college to cancel events during the annual Patronal Festival Week in June. This year sees the College celebrate its 125th anniversary.

‘We had a whole string of events planned to mark the milestone,’ explains Mike, ‘but the only one that could go ahead was my own 125km sponsored walk.’

Fr Kevin Scully, warden at the college, said: ‘Meeting the social welfare and healthcare needs of an ageing population is one of the major challenges of our time and the emergence of Covid-19 has made it all the more difficult.’

A one-time journalist and actor, Kevin moved from Australia to the UK to train for the priesthood and served as curate and rector for many years in London’s inner city, before taking on the challenge of leading the college.

‘There are significant number of Anglican clergy approaching retirement over the next decade and many will have inadequate retirement provision,’ he pointed out. ‘People also wish to remain in their own homes for as long as they are independent enough to do so but when they do need care it often has to be more specialised care because of their advancing years. Both are capacity and cost issues that need to be addressed urgently – the clock is ticking.’

The College of St Barnabas, a community of retired ordained and lay Anglicans, is an independent charitable care provider. 

While Covid-19 makes it much more difficult for the dedicated staff to achieve the college’s worldwide mission, it is a place which offers comfort and care to those in need.

All those years ago Canon Cooper saw many former priests in the workhouse. His determination to prevent that led to the college’s formation. 125 years on, clerical poverty still exists and the need is ever-present.

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• The College of St Barnabas will be exhibiting at CRE South West 2021 (Westpoint, Exeter, 17-18 Mar) and CRE National 2021 (Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, 12-14 Oct)

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Our next exhibitions

CRE South West 2021 – 17-18 March 2021
Westpoint, Exeter

CRE National 2021 – 12-14 October 2021
Sandown Park, Surrey

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Dave Hall

Dave Hall author