'I was constantly fascinated by Faith in Action, the social outreach of the church'

Lilly Nelson shares her LifeCall story of becoming a university chaplain here.

Previously to Chaplaincy I studied Fine Art Photography and worked (and still do on occasion) as a visitor assistant in a Modern Art Gallery. Due to a series of life events, I started to think seriously about my faith and undertook further study, I graduated from Liverpool Hope University with a BA Hons in Theology, Philosophy and Ethics in 2018 and was taken on as part of the chaplaincy team from then.

I live with my dad in the north of Liverpool. My partner Jen, is the current Tsed aquah community member at Liverpool Cathedral. My hobbies include art and playing the drums.

Alongside studying, I volunteered as part of the spiritual pastoral care team with NHS Merseycare as well as being part of the chaplaincy team to Download Festival (biggest heavy metal music festival in Europe). I was constantly fascinated by Faith in Action, the social outreach of the church and what spiritual care looked like in different environments.

It was around this time I was encouraged to attend Open Table (for the LGBT+ community) which helped me reconcile my faith and sexuality and supported me in my ‘coming out’ journey.

I currently work two jobs – one as Anglican Chaplaincy Assistant for Liverpool Hope University’s Chaplaincy, primarily based Creative Campus in Everton. As well as Student Chaplaincy Assistant (Anglican) working between St Bride’s Church, Liverpool John Moore’s University and University of Liverpool’s Faith Space, ‘Faith Express’ in the City Centre – a role I am very new to, and has granted me experiences working as both in an ecumenical and a multi-faith team.

There is no typical day, as I cover a lot of campuses! My Typical Week comes in the form of Monday, being present at Hope Park’s Chaplaincy’s £1 lunch – where we prepare a simple lunch for students at a reduced cost, this gives us the opportunity to chat and invite in the wider campus community. Tuesdays, I spend the day in the drop-in Chaplaincy Hub at Creative Campus – it's right in the heart by the canteen and there’s always plenty of energy and conversations. Wednesday, I have a one to one with the Anglican Chaplain for Hope, Cynthia, then we host Knit and Natter group followed by Anglican Communion in the Chapel – this is a community we have built up over the past few years. Thursday, I am based at St Bride’s Church where I am there for Morning Prayer, followed by one to one meetings with the Anglican Chaplaincy Team on Friday, where we meet for prayer and mindful craft.

There have been plenty of wonderful opportunities with my role at Hope – with working with the creative students and building up relationships with their tutors, the chaplaincy has been able to provide liturgical themed performances (for Advent and up and coming Ash Weds) we have used the Uni’s facilities for the Student Radio to discuss topical themes along with access to social media to talk about images of Christ through Art. We also work closely with the wellbeing department which we have been able to get invited to provide spiritual care opportunities for their different events.

It is an absolute joy to have a job alongside my faith journey, to be present at University events, and working with students and meeting where they are with their faith, whatever that looks like for them. I have had some amazing God-centered conversations with students who have been curious as to our role as part of spiritual wellbeing.