One in three church leaders say they want to step down from their roles within the next two years due to job-related stress, according to a new survey by Unite.
The trade union's study revealed that 75 per cent of those surveyed regularly work beyond their contracted hours, often facing challenging situations such as providing support to individuals suffering from acute mental illness.
Rev Nicky Skipworth from Unite shared with Premier the challenging nature of the clergy's role, emphasising the desire to be there for people in times of need but feeling they often have to rely on family and friends to feel listened to.
“I rejoice when the phone goes at 3 am. We really want to be there for people,” Rev Nicky Skipworth from Unite told Premier.
“But it's a really, really tough role at the minute. We have to go in search of people in our lives who will listen to us. But we're very averse to burdening other people with our own stuff because we want to make a priority of listening to other people.”
According to the survey, the cost of living crisis is also having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of faith workers across various religions and denominations, with 89 of the respondents reporting experiencing anxiety and chronic fatigue as a result of the stress.
Unite is urging faith organisations to implement their existing wellbeing policies and assess the adequacy of support systems for their clergy. The survey indicates that if religious bodies do not take prompt action to address these challenges, they may face difficulties in filling vacant positions.
Rev Nicky Skipworth continued: “People are really crying out for more support, not just policies on paper, but for these policies to actually be followed up by their faith organisation, their diocese, their circuit."