Meet GOSH's Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team

In Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes, we're given a tour of the Grade 2 listed St Christopher’s Chapel. Completed in 1875, the chapel moved – en bloc – during the redevelopment of the old hospital in the late 1980s to the spot it occupies today. To find out more about the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team itself, we speak with Senior Chaplain Jim Linthicum and Deputy Senior Chaplain Dorothy Moore Brooks to hear their story.

Meeting Paul O'Grady

"Paul came to the chapel one day and he was filmed going in and seeing it for the first time,” says Dorothy. 

“It was a lovely moment because his reaction captured what we see every day: people coming in and being hit by the beauty, splendour and other worldliness of it.” 

Paul was given a tour of the chapel by Jim, and Dorothy introduced him to a patient that happened to be a big fan of his. 

"The patient was sitting in his wheelchair at the front desk and I said, ‘I have got someone for you to meet’ and I told him who it was,” says Dorothy. “He got up out of his wheelchair and ran around here and said to Paul ‘it’s really you’. They had a lovely ten minute chat and a photo.” 

For Dorothy, the moment Lara (Episode 1) sang in the chapel summed up the fact that all the religious spaces at GOSH are a resource for families and a place where they can find nourishment. 

St Christopher’s Chapel 

If you were to put a camera inside the chapel and create a time-lapse, you’d be surprised at the number of people that visit the chapel in one day – including staff, patients and families. 

“A lot of members of staff seem to bookend their day here,” says Dorothy. “Some have faith, some don’t, but it is a place to find strength and perhaps lay down your day before you go home again.” 

A lot of families will also visit the chapel before they visit their child. 

“I think people use it as an oasis, a place to find strength, a place to order their thoughts and a place to express some of the raw emotion that they are going through,” she says, adding that it’s like a “Victorian sensory room”. 

Dorothy Deputy Senior Chaplain GOSH

“There is a lot of gold. Children seem to love it, particularly children who are very sick, very little or very fragile, it seems to have a calming effect on them,” Dorothy adds. 

According to Jim, when the chapel was first built the biggest health and safety hazard was wax dripping on people from candles in the chandeliers. This is electrified now.

The church has regular services – with Wednesday acting as the chapel’s Sunday. It also hosts special services. 

“The most special service of the year, certainly for me, is the Midnight Mass we have on Christmas Eve,” Dorothy says. “It’s well worth the drive in because it is a beautiful candlelit service, albeit battery candles. Staff, patients and families come down and the chapel is packed." 

"We try to get a couple of the children in the congregation to get involved and we have a school choir that comes in," says Jim. 

“It is a very poignant time of year for people and it feels really important that we take time to mark this festival and allow people a place to celebrate,” Dorothy adds. 

The other sacred spots around GOSH 

As well as the chapel, GOSH is home to a Muslim prayer facility in the Southwood Building, a non-denominational reflection room and a Jewish room for Jewish families to observe the sabbath, and a Jewish charity brings in Kosher snacks and prepares the room every week for the sabbath. 

The team also does bespoke services. For example, a memorial service in Hungarian for a Hungarian family. 

The chaplaincy team 

In addition to Dorothy and Jim, the chaplaincy team also includes two other Christian chaplains, one who works three days a week who is Roman Catholic, another chaplain, two female Muslim chaplains, an Imam, two Jewish female chaplains and a Rabbi. 

The team also has good relationships with some of the minority faith groups. 

“For example, if we need a Hindu priest, the Soho Temple are very generous towards us,” says Dorothy. “Similarly, the Buddhist Society have helped us out in the past.” 

The team sometimes acts as broker between families and the faith community, trying to get the right type of spiritual care for each person. 

“We can get just about anybody that they might want,” says Jim. 

On an average day, the team will try and meet as many families as they can — sometimes that’s by chance, in the chapel or in the other sacred spaces they have around the hospital, or sometimes by doing ward visits. 

24/7 on-call service, 365 days a year 

The Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care team work from 9am to 5.30pm, but it has a 24/7 on-call service every day of the year – so if you wanted somebody to talk to at 3am on Christmas Day, there’ll be someone at the end of the phone. 

“We try to be as available as we can, the message is that the chaplaincy never closes, we are not all always available, but one of us at least is always available,” explains Dorothy. 

Support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

We support the hospital and young patients by funding four key areas, including rebuilding and refurbishment — this involves supporting the design, construction and fitting of new buildings and the renovation of older areas to give our patients the best care and experience possible.

Get involved and help raise money for GOSH and join our Facebook and Twitter community. Or sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with all the amazing things that take place at the hospital and charity every single day.