When The Revd Sarah* left theological college and became a curate in a new diocese, her children had to move schools.
After struggling to get her son and daughter places in over-subscribed schools, her daughter took part in online learning from home for a year. The pressures of a new school with new students in a new area was a real challenge for her son, and learning from home was an isolating experience for her daughter.
Sarah turned to the NHS for help, but found that the waiting list for diagnostic tests was over two years. Having heard of Clergy Support Trust at college, Sarah felt confident approaching us to see how we could best walk alongside her and her children.
"It started with my son, who was 15 when we realised there was something wrong, and the school were being most unhelpful.
We tried to get some help through the NHS and we were told waiting lists were two years. He needed help there and then, not to wait until the other side of his GCSEs, which he would likely fail.
My daughter then had a very similar situation. We began to realise she was exhibiting some signs of special educational need - and that was right in the middle of COVID, so the NHS was moving even more slowly.
A Health grant from Clergy Support Trust was absolutely brilliant. It allowed us to get diagnostic tests done privately, and to put support in place for them both. As a mum, it freed me up to spend more time on my formation and training."
The challenges of curacy
Many ordinands and curates reach out to the Trust, concerned by the significant financial gap between the last maintenance payment of their training, and the first of their stipend.
"I was quite lucky, because I was in a situation where it was helpful for me to move early, and the diocese was fantastic. I moved house in the April, which meant I'd still got a couple of maintenance payments to go before that gap. I was able to get in, get settled and brace myself.
But I have friends who were not only facing the income gap, but they were also trying to move house as well, and it was incredibly stressful for them. It was not something I personally suffered with, and I was very glad I didn't have to go through that."
A Curacy grant, one of our Emergency grants, can help lessen the strain of moving house and other expenses during this gap in income.
"A really big comfort"
"When you're lying awake in bed at night thinking 'What if the boiler breaks down? What if my car breaks down? How on Earth do I cope with all of this?' - you remember hearing stories around college of people who've been able to get help from Clergy Support Trust.
I had great conversations with some of the Grants and Services Officers, who were really sensitive and very willing to listen. They were understanding, and seemed very keen to help where they could. I think the service has been fantastic."
In 2023, we awarded over £169k in grants to support clergy and their families with diagnostic tests, educational psychologist assessments and assistive technologies.
To consider costs towards diagnostic tests, we will need some evidence of waiting list from NHS or other statutory services. Special Educational Needs can be supported by our Caseworker team, if deemed necessary.
*This applicant has asked to remain anonymous. The Revd Sarah is a pseudonym.