The Diocese of Chichester has launched a new initiative aimed at lending a listening ear to people who have experienced trauma and bereavement as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Hearing You" is a new phoneline ministry — launched in partnership with Together in Sussex — that endeavours to offer "pastoral support to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak."
The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Rev Dr Martin Warner, told Premier: "It has been set up to respond to the need that many people are finding when they face the fear, the experience of Coronavirus and also the terrible trauma of bereavement.
"Curates will be staffing this and also authorised lay ministers. These are lay people who've been through quite a rigorous process of training."
Bishop Martin added that phoneline staff will be available to "pray with people" and "answer questions about the Christian faith and what we believe about life after death."
Dr Warner noted that the service provided an alternative to face-to-face spiritual counseling while the Church of England's buildings are "necessarily locked and closed" due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
He added: "They're places where we can't go to assemble. But nor can we go individually to mark a way of offloading our grief, our fears, or offering a prayer for a person or a situation.
"This is a way of ensuring that you still have some sense of access to how the church and other Christians will pray for you and with you, and for those of whom you are most concerned about."
The service will initially run until the end of May, from Monday to Friday, 9am - 7pm and is open to anyone living in Sussex, whether they currently attend a church or not. The number to call is 01273 425047.