Faith in the City featured in the 11th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film:



This film focuses on the chaplaincy work of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Chaplaincy Service at St. James University Hospital, Leeds

Faith In The City is a series of documentary films exploring the cultural landscape of Leeds through an in-depth exploration of religious practices and conventions. Featuring footage of religious ceremonies, festivals and celebrations, this series uses detailed and revealing interviews with religious leaders and practitioners combined with beautifully shot and edited footage to give a full and comprehensive representation of the cultural diversity that Leeds enjoys.

A view of part of the photography exhibition that I was commissioned to produce and install in the upper gallery of Leeds City Museum as part of the Faith in the City exhibition

The Chaplaincy service at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals has played an integral part in health care provision in the city since the inception of the National Health Service in 1948. It relies on the goodwill and enthusiasm of a team of volunteer visitors who supplement the full-time staff providing spiritual healthcare.

Rev.Tony Ruddle, one of the hospital chaplains, explained: As one of the very biggest NHS organisations in the UK, including St James’s, home to the largest teaching hospital in Europe, the challenge of addressing the religious and spiritual needs of nearly 15,000 staff and an annual turnover of more than one million patients is monumental. 

“The Trust employs eight whole-time chaplains – six either Anglican or Free Church and two are Roman Catholic.  In addition, part time and honorary chaplains from a whole raft of religious traditions bring their own expertise into an area which strives to reflect the truly diverse and multi-cultural nature of the people we serve.

“We could not hope to provide a full service without the help of more than 70 volunteer chaplaincy visitors, working across Leeds General Infirmary, St James’s as well as Wharfedale and ChapelAllerton Hospitals. We are always on the look out for more volunteers to join the team and help put something back into their local hospitals.

“After thorough training each volunteer supplements the work of the full time and honorary chaplains by taking on a particular responsibility for a specific ward.  There, never quite knowing what they might find, they spend two to three hours once a week chatting with, listening to and supporting patients, relatives and staff.  

Describing her work as both immensely challenging and deeply rewarding, LGI volunteer, Anne Spice, said: “For anyone with a pastoral heart and a listening ear this is the ideal way of putting their faith into action.”

Another LGI volunteer, John Sherbourne, added: “People sometimes get the wrong impression of chaplaincy.  We don’t, as you might think, spend all our time sitting around talking about God. In fact there are many occasions when religion never even enters our conversations.

“Whatever level of engagement we have with patients they, their relatives and ward staff still tell us that simply by being there our presence really does make a difference”.