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The gifts of old age: mental well-being, spirituality and elderly people

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The gifts of old age: mental well-being, spirituality and elderly people

Saturday 02 December 2017
10.00am - 4.00pm
In collaboration with The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

A day exploring the integration of mental health and the spiritual life bringing together elderly people and those who care for them: parishioners, chaplains, clergy, ministers, counsellors and mental health professionals.

There will be opportunities to explore methods of practice and talk about the integration of spirituality and mental health.



Welcome from Bishop Richard Moth


Keynote speaker: Paul Farmer






Group discussion facilitated by Bishop Richard Moth, Prof Peter Tyler and Dr Pia Matthews


The Art of Dying Well: Dr Pia Matthews




Afternoon workshops:

  • Dementia Friends: Margaret Hinton 
  • Living Life to the Full: Prof Chris Williams




Afternoon workshops:


Round up and Blessing: Bishop Richard Moth

Download the programme

View conference review

Guest speakers

Elizabeth Bano

Elizabeth is an independent consultant specialising in The Mental Capacity Act, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and Safeguarding issues. She has a background in communications having worked as a producer for BBC Radio 4 and for a Catholic newspaper. Her interest in social care and in particular protecting and empowering the vulnerable, developed while working with a Catholic charity. She took her MA in Bioethics at St Mary’s university, where she has been a guest lecturer.

Sr Mary Considine

Sr Mary Considine is a member of the Religious Congregation known in the Church and the World as the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron with many years’ experience in advocacy work and Community Building work; especially within areas of multiple deprivations for a number of local authority services.  She also worked within the deaf community empowering them to become leaders in their own Community as well as third sector groups in partnership with the local authority to deliver befriending services for older isolated older people.  She is currently operating as one of the Embrace CARITAS Salford project leads.

Dr Paul Farmer CBE (Keynote speaker)

Paul Farmer has been Chief Executive of Mind, the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales since May 2006. He is Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the leading voice of the UK’s charity and social enterprise sector. Paul is also a trustee at Lloyds Bank Foundation which invests in charities supporting people to break out of disadvantage at critical points in their lives.

Paul is Chair of the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce - bringing together health and care leaders and experts in the field, including people using services, to lead a programme of work to create a mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS in England. Paul has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East London, is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College Oxford and The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2016. Paul’s father wrote the Oxford Book of Saints.

Thomas Gillespie

Thomas Gillespie is the Regional Head of Communities Support Projects for SVP in the south east of England.  He is the Embrace lead for SVP in Brighton and has worked for the last 20 years in the Voluntary Sector and NHS within the field of mental health, substance misuse and homelessness.  He is also MBACP accredited Psychotherapist and has a keen interest in developing services for older people with dementia.

Margaret Hinton

Margaret Hinton is the Marriage and Family Life worker and coordinator in the Diocese of Wrexham. Previously a State Registered Nurse for 30 years, she has been in her current post for nearly 7 years.  Marriage and Family Life work encompasses helping parishes to become more friendly and welcoming of all, promoting the idea of the holiness of our homes and supporting families in passing on their faith down the generations.  Dementia Friends is being used in the Diocese of Wrexham to help parishes to understand the needs of people living with dementia and the Diocese as an organisation was the first Diocese in the country to be awarded the status of 'Working towards being Dementia Friendly' by the Alzheimer’s Society earlier this year.

Dr Pia Matthews
Bishop Richard Moth
Dr Trevor Stammers
Prof Chris Williams

Dr Chris Williams is President of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (, and is Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow.

His work uses a form of psychotherapy called Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help people facing problems such as low mood and stress.

Chris is the author of the free-access life skills course which receives over 25 million hits a year and is the most recommended online course for anxiety and depression in NHS England IAPT services and mental health trusts.

He is a keen advocate of introducing CBT principles into Church support settings, and co-wrote the book I’m Not supposed to Feel like this: A Christian approach to anxiety and depression. His popular Living Life to the Full with God classes ( have been used widely in community and church settings in the UK and abroad.


Living Life to the Full?

Workshop Leader: Prof Chris Williams

Having a personal faith can enrich life, but doesn’t prevent us from facing the everyday challenges and difficulties of life.

Many Church leaders and members sometimes struggle to cope during difficult times. A personal faith can be a source of valuable encouragement and hope, but also can become caught up in making us feel worse at times. Living Life to the Full is a series of classes that can be run within churches and wider communities. Using an everyday language and practical easily taught approach, they help attendees work out why they feel as they do, as well as helping them learn to tackle some of the most common problems faced during times of low mood and stress.

This short session provides an overview of the course and will help you understand your reactions, learn three activities you can do to feel happier and more fulfilled, as well as how to notice and then respond differently to negative or anxious thinking. Using an approach that is fully consistent with having a personal faith, you’ll discover invaluable tools you can use yourself, or pass on to others.

Do you want to discover more about Living Life to the Full- or how to help others achieve this? If so, come along and find out more.

Parish Community:  Building up the preciousness of the soul of older people and their value within the life of the church

Workshop Leaders: Sr Mary Considine and Thomas Gillespie

In this workshop Sr. Mary and Thomas will be giving an overview about a new partnership between Catholic charities such as SVP, Caritas, Catholic Social Action Network (CSAN), Fr Hudson’s and Catholic Care to work with isolated older people in parishes across England.

No Decision About Me – Without Me

 Workshop Leader: Elizabeth Bano

Earlier this year ‘Welcome Me As I Am’ produced an online Toolkit on Spirituality and Dementia in partnership with Caritas Social Action (CSAN).

It is for our faith communities and can be used by carers or family members, ministers of the Eucharist, SVP visitors, parish and pastoral workers, as well the clergy. It is for everyone whose lives have been touched by dementia - this includes the person with dementia as well as their loved ones and friends – and indeed the wider community. The resource covers practical, spiritual and theological aspects of accompanying the person with dementia and aims to help to create ‘dementia friendly’ Church Communities.

This workshop will focus on part five of the six parts of the toolkit. 

No Decision About Me - Without Me will look at some of the practical aspects of consent and decision-making set out in the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. By understanding how they work, we can help to protect those with dementia, ensuring their spiritual and practical needs are taken into account. We can also consider ways of planning for the future and caring for those whose lives are touched by dementia.

Dementia Friends Information Session

Workshop Leader: Margaret Hinton 

Dementia Friends is a social action movement led by Alzheimer’s Society as one strand of its work to create Dementia Friendly Communities. The goal is to raise awareness of dementia and to help people with dementia feel part of their community by improving the understanding of dementia for 4 million people and inspiring them to take action.  This interactive and informative session, delivered by Margaret Hinton who is a Dementia Friends Champion, will highlight five things the Alzheimer’s Society believes everyone should know about dementia and give the opportunity to become a friend of dementia.

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Saturday 02 December 2017
10.00am - 4.00pm

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