Episode 3 Chaplains: Angels of Mersey


Episode 3

Series following chaplains in Liverpool. At Alder Hey Children's Hospital, the chaplains give support to a young mother whose eighteen-month-old son is seriously ill.


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Transcript


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SEAGULLS CALL

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HORN BLOWS

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Chaplains are modern-day disciples.

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-Ta-da!

-Yeah!

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Excuse me, are you Jewish? Have you got any Jewish pals here?

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Salam Alaikum.

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They take the word of God

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out of the church and into the places we work and play.

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This is what Christ did. He came and

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walked and talked and lived amongst people

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and this is really what a chaplain does.

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They're employed in our hospitals and universities,

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at the football ground, on the street.

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We're here to help everyone who's vulnerable, right?

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-We are very vulnerable.

-LAUGHTER

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SIREN BLARES

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I think all chaplaincy is front-line ministry

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and it means you're actually out where it's happening.

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Tonight, the chaplain praying for a homesick student...

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..and you know how he's feeling.

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..on patrol with the street pastors...

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We are part of the church out on the street.

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LAUGHTER

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..and the mother whose baby faces his 10th operation.

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He's gone through so much, you know, he's got some willpower.

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We're following chaplains in the city of Liverpool,

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the work they do and the people's lives they touch.

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HORN BLOWS

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At Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital,

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head chaplain, Dave Williams,

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is doing one of his regular ward rounds.

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God bless you, little fellow. ..Hasn't he got a lovely smile?

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200,000 young patients are treated here every year.

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The chaplains offer support to anyone that needs it,

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whether they're religious or not.

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I think this is very definitely where Jesus would be,

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amongst the sick and amongst those who don't know him.

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That's where Jesus would be.

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So you fell down the stairs from a whole flight of stairs?

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-A full flight of stairs.

-And you're weak on one side?

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Yeah, and I also hit, like, my neck and everything.

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-We'll have a little pray together, is that OK?

-Mm-hm.

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Father, just thank you, and ask your blessing on her,

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that she may be well and strong and whole.

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In your precious name, we pray. Amen.

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-Bless you. Take care, love.

-Bye.

-Good to see you, see you soon.

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I must be the clergyman with the cleanest hands in the diocese, I reckon.

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'We meet all people here.

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'It's what I value about this job more than anything,'

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I think, that we meet people who aren't churched,

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but have suddenly found themselves in a situation,

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which is a crisis, if their child is in here

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and suddenly feel that, maybe,

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there's more to the world than just what we see here, you know,

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so it's good to be in that situation with them.

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Are you going to sleep? Eh?

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Is that you're tired?

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-Eh?

-Kirsty Harris's son Carson

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was brought here shortly after his birth.

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He's now 18 months old and he's been here ever since.

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He was born at 27 weeks, weighing two pounds five. Very small.

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And this is one of Carson's first nappies,

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which was too big and we had to fold over.

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He actually fit in my hand, that is how small he was. Scary times.

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He's had a bleed in the brain, which was quite a big bleed,

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he's also got brittle-bone disease, um, he's got a heart defect.

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He's got chronic lung disease, um...

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-he has eyesight problems, hearing problems...

-MACHINE BEEPS

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-SHE TURNS IT OFF

-He has a cleft palate.

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He has spina bifida occulta

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and he has a tracheostomy fitted, because, during the night,

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he doesn't breathe at all for himself.

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He'll never be able to feed normally through his mouth, um...

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I think that's it. I think I've covered everything.

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Kirsty's been told many times that Carson won't make it

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and he's always proved the doctors wrong,

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but his future is still uncertain and he's going to need more surgery.

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Get off them wires.

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I think the kids have got special spirits

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and I think the way that the parents just alter their lives

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to cope with huge bits of news,

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that they've got long-term treatment, I think they're amazing.

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I never cease to be amazed the way parents cope.

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Every weekend, thousands of partygoers head for Liverpool's clubs and bars.

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Out there, keeping the streets safe are the police and the church.

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The street pastors are the city's new frontline ministry,

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a group of Christian volunteers who offer practical help

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and a listening ear to anyone that needs it.

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DANCE MUSIC

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SIREN BLARES

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It's Saturday night and over 250,000 people are out clubbing.

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Carol is on patrol again

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with fellow pastors Hazel Dickens and Dave Collier.

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-The church needs to be on the streets.

-Yes.

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Out in the community and this is what we're doing.

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We are part of the church out on the street.

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There's no good us sitting in church expecting people to come to us,

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-because they're not going to come.

-No.

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So we go to them and that's what we're here for.

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CHEERING

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Come on, hard-core.

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We are off to Stanley Street

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and then we'll go into Matthew Street, which is usually manic.

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-On the way back.

-On the way back. I love Matthew Street and all.

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-You just go for a wander, sort of thing?

-BOTH: Yes.

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See if we can find anybody who needs us. Homeless...vulnerable people.

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People who just want a chat.

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One of the best clubs in Liverpool there, man. Oh, what.

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I fell down them stairs that many times.

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-The oldest and friendliest club?

-Love that club.

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Best club in Liverpool!

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Picking up empty bottles is a simple way of making the streets safer.

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-What did you pick the bottle up for?

-Um, because it's a potential weapon.

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Or...they can smash it and cut their feet on it.

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I'll find a bin and put them in it when I find one.

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BOTTLES CLINK

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So we just walk around and, obviously,

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you see some of the same people each time you come out

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and they just get to know us and they're more trusting then, you know.

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They know that we're not "Bible bashers". We're here for them.

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At Alder Hey Hospital, when Kirsty Harris gets

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a rare moment away from her son Carson's bedside,

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she heads to the room that's become a home from home.

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Ronald McDonald House is

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a place where parents can stay while their children are having treatment

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Have you got my bag, Paul, please?

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-Thank you.

-There you are, dear.

-Thank you very much.

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'When you first come, it's very strange.'

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We've been here quite a long time now, so we...

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It is like a second home now. We know all the staff pretty well,

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we have a good relationship with the staff.

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We call it the house that never sleeps,

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because there's always somebody,

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no matter what time of day or night, coming and going and lots of noise.

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Kirsty's family have been separated by Carson's illness.

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While she lives at the hospital, her other children

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are back home with her partner and mother.

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This is my room.

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Yeah, so on the wall here we've got Layton, and Ethan, Lewis and Chloe.

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So...they're always with me.

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It just makes it a bit more homely.

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It's been very hard to deal with the guilt of, um...

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splitting yourself in two and you can't physically do that.

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Father, we just thank you for this time

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to come together and to take time out of a busy day,

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just to come rest in your presence, and to worship you and to give thanks

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and give to you all the little ones and young people in this hospital...

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VOICE ECHOES AND FADES

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Kirsty isn't a churchgoer, but from the start,

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the chaplains have helped her through the darkest times.

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Are you looking up there?

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Alder Hey's Catholic chaplain, Caroline Ferguson,

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has always been there to give Kirsty support.

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I couldn't agree with you more.

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'As a chaplain at Alder Hey, we do get to know some of the patients

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'very well, especially the ones that are in for a long, long time.'

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Just so wonderful, when I walked in to TCU the other day,

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-and there he was sitting there upright on his own.

-Yeah.

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-It was just brilliant. He's done so well recently.

-He has come on, yeah.

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Come on in leaps and bounds.

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'To begin with, we wasn't keen speaking to Caroline.'

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Just we had a lot of other things going on, um,

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but as she started coming around more often,

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our conversations got longer and more in depth

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and it was just really nice to have somebody to speak to, um,

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that wasn't medical, that wasn't telling me how sick Carson was.

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She was actually asking how I was feeling,

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how the family was doing at home, and it was really nice to have that.

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'Carson is a very sick little boy

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'and Carson and Kirsty have been in Alder Hey for a very long time.

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'One day, Carson will go home, but he'll keep coming back to Alder Hey'

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and she'll be there for him and I'll be there for her.

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If he can do what he's done, then we can get through this,

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and we WILL get through this, and we will become, hopefully,

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a stronger family unit because of this.

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University is a time when many young people

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lose touch with the religion they've grown up with.

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At Liverpool, chaplains are working hard to keep faith alive on campus.

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Today, Anglican chaplain, James Harding,

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is meeting up with students who need his help.

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'I want to be there for those Christians

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'who're away from the home for the first time

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'and they want to just let loose

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'and experiment and see everything that life's got to offer them,

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'but I am not the religious police.

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'I cannot, because of my own experiences say, "Though shalt not do that."

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'That is not my job. I believe that's the job of the Holy Spirit.'

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I choose to spend all my expenses

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on buying coffee, cakes and drinks for the students that I meet,

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because I believe that's Christian hospitality.

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I believe that Jesus was a generous person and I want to be like that.

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Dan is a first year student looking for a new church in Liverpool

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and he's about to discover there's no such thing as a free lunch.

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So, Dan, I'd really like to invite you to my church, because...

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because we've got a real need for a musician like you.

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You know, I think you would be just perfect in the worship teams,

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because, last year, we had a great guitar player and he graduated,

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so really, we've got a hole that we need filling there

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and I think you'd be a great person to do that.

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If you want to come and play guitar for me, that's fantastic

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-if you want to do that.

-Definitely, mate, I'll come and give it a try.

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Yeah, I think it is the best way to find out

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whether you want to be involved or not, because if you don't try,

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-you don't really know, so...

-Yeah, that's true.

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-Thanks, mate.

-Thanks a lot, mate, see you soon. Bye.

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'I really think that Dan's the kind of guy that I can support'

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and disciple and mentor at his time at university

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and he's going to make an excellent contribution to church,

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you know, and that's how he'll feel

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a real sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in his life.

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Dan's now playing guitar, bass, keys and drums at James's church.

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At Alder Hey Hospital, Carson Hartley is

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about to undergo his 10th operation -

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four hours of surgery on his saliva glands.

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-Does it ever get any easier?

-No, no. A lot of people ask me that,

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"It must get easier after, you know, so many," but no, no.

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Every time's the same.

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I think, because it's so unnatural, how he goes to sleep

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and, obviously, it's out of your hands what's happening to him.

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As always, Caroline, the chaplain,

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has come along to give Kirsty support.

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-Thank you.

-Hello, little man. Hello! Are you enjoying that? What's this?

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-Oh, that's right.

-He says, "Bash Caroline!"

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-Bash Caroline.

-Bash Caroline.

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-So you're going down to theatre in a little while?

-Yes.

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How long's he going to be in for? Have they given you a time?

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No, about four hours, I think, altogether.

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He was here when he first came in, wasn't he? This was his...

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-Wasn't it here?

-I think he's had every bed space.

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LAUGHTER

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-I'm sure he has.

-This was his first one.

-Yeah.

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MAN: Where are we off to, mate?

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THEY CHATTER

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'Obviously, when he goes to theatre, I have little silent prayers.'

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'I do say things in my head, like, "Please make sure he'll be OK."

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'Every day I look at him, he amazes me that he's still here,

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'that he's fighting, he's strong, you know, he's got some willpower.'

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'It is a miracle. He's brilliant.

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'You know, he's had to come through so much and yet,

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'at the end of it, he smiles every day.'

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In the hospital chapel,

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Kirsty's asked Caroline to light a candle for Carson.

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I firmly believe that, when I light that candle now for Carson,

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and in my mind, I'm saying, "Jesus, look after him,

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"take care, make him better, look after him, look after Kirsty,"

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I'm firmly convinced that what I'm saying, with the help of the candles,

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is wending its way up there, somewhere,

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through the golden gates to Jesus

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and I believe that and that's part of my faith.

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I've had a few days where I've just thought, "I can't do this no more,"

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and then I just look at him and I think, "How can I think that?"

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You know, he's gone through so much,

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he's actually going through this, and he can do it, then so can we.

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At the University, Anglican chaplain, James Harding, has had a call for help.

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OK, I'm on my way to meet a student called Tom.

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Tom is a Christian, he comes regularly to the chapel,

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so I know him quite well, and Tom is going to go home today.

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I'm going to meet him, because I think he's feeling homesick.

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'I'm going to talk to Tom, listen to him, pray with him,

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'but I'll take him to the station as well, so he just knows there's someone that's here for him.'

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-Hi, mate.

-How you doing?

-Good to see you.

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-Is this the longest you've ever been away from home?

-Yeah, it is, it's seven weeks now.

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Yeah, so what are you missing?

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-I'm missing my mum's cooking, definitely.

-Yeah.

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-She's a food technology teacher.

-Right, so you get well fed at home?

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Yeah, I'm looking forward to that. Also, I miss my church quite a bit,

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because I had a lot of friends there.

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I'm always worried about students going home too early.

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I've seen it so many times in my time in universities that,

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if you go home too early before you've made friends and made good new contacts,

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then you can kind of find it difficult to reintegrate.

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How about, just before I take you to the station, I just pray for you?

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-I'd really like to pray for you.

-Thanks.

-OK.

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Father God, thank you for Tom, thank you that you've brought him

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and called him to Liverpool...

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VOICE FADES

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'I believe, you know, when the lights go off,

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'and the door closes, and that students are alone in their room,

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'the realities of life hit them then.'

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"There must be more to life than this.

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"There must be some direction and purpose in my life."

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And, hopefully, I'm there to help people through that.

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I mean, my own experience of being a student was very mixed.

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I came to Liverpool to study when I was 18 years old.

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I'd never been away from home before.

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I cut the apron strings and I partied really hard for two years.

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I really pushed the limits of what was acceptable, in terms of drinking alcohol.

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I really pushed the limits in terms of what was acceptable in terms of experimenting with drugs.

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And it was a Christian friend that picked me up

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and cleaned me down and loved me back into church.

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-OK, God bless.

-Thanks a lot.

-Have a safe journey.

-God bless.

-OK, see you soon.

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'So I want to be there for people that are in that situation.

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'This job is so rewarding and so fulfilling,'

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because I get to share people's lives, share people's journeys,

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I get to walk with them a little bit

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and I believe I'm right where God wants me to be.

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It's not a job, it's a calling and I'd I do it

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regardless of whether I got paid or not.

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Tom came back to Liverpool and, with James's support,

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is settling into university life.

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Carson Hartley is recovering from his 10th operation.

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But the surgeons have given Kirsty some bad news about his future.

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They've said that he's probably not going to speak. Um...

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I was obviously upset. It's not a nice thing to hear.

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Like I said, it's just another thing to add to his list.

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And they actually confirmed that he has moderate hearing loss

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and he's now getting fitted for hearing aids.

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You know, sometimes, when he looks at me, I think, "Why you? Why us?"

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You know, um, and then, when he smiles at you, you think,

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"How can you smile?" you know, "What reason have you got to smile for?"

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We've come this far,

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so it doesn't matter if it's going to take another five years,

0:21:580:22:02

10 years, 15 years, we're going to be there 100% behind Carson,

0:22:020:22:07

um, and they are little steps that we have to take

0:22:070:22:11

and each day's an extra step towards, hopefully,

0:22:110:22:15

a better future for him.

0:22:150:22:17

You know, as long as he's here, we're going to be here behind him.

0:22:190:22:22

HORN BLOWS

0:22:330:22:36

DANCE MUSIC

0:22:360:22:39

Here you go, girls. Are you going to put them on?

0:22:420:22:45

At their base on Church Street,

0:22:490:22:50

the street pastors hand out water and free flip-flops.

0:22:500:22:55

Oh, yeah, thanks. Thanks for them. Thank you.

0:22:550:22:58

Go on, you can put them on now.

0:22:580:23:00

There's nothing worse than staying in heels all night

0:23:000:23:03

when you feel sick, cold, like on a night like this,

0:23:030:23:06

and you want to go home. And you just, you can't be bothered

0:23:060:23:10

walking two miles for a taxi in shoes like that.

0:23:100:23:15

Here you are.

0:23:150:23:18

People are coming up now and they are saying to us,

0:23:180:23:21

"Are you the people who sell flip-flops?"

0:23:210:23:23

And we say, "No, we give flip-flops away," so they still haven't

0:23:230:23:27

quite got the message that we're not out to make money.

0:23:270:23:29

-LAUGHTER

-This is what they did.

0:23:360:23:39

I feel amazing.

0:23:390:23:42

They made my birthday.

0:23:420:23:44

LAUGHTER

0:23:440:23:46

It just shows you how many young ladies walk around with nothing on their feet and, er,

0:23:460:23:51

you might've noticed earlier on, we picked up a few bottles as well.

0:23:510:23:54

The reason behind that was because, you know, they get broken,

0:23:540:23:57

they're walking around with nothing on their feet,

0:23:570:23:59

It's dangerous, you know, for 'em and, also, they can be used

0:23:590:24:02

for weapons as well, of course, so, er...

0:24:020:24:05

if we remove them from the street, it makes it a safer place.

0:24:050:24:08

SIREN BLARES

0:24:080:24:10

It's 3am and the city centre's busier than ever.

0:24:140:24:18

The pastors don't preach, but if people ask questions,

0:24:180:24:21

it's an opportunity to get their message across.

0:24:210:24:24

I believe that Jesus exists, yeah, existed. He's dead now, of course.

0:24:240:24:30

Well, he did die, but he rose again.

0:24:300:24:34

-I believe that he taught people how they should live.

-OK, that's OK.

0:24:340:24:38

-And for those people to teach again.

-Yeah?

-That's their test.

0:24:380:24:43

-Well, that's us.

-To teach again.

-We're used as his disciples.

0:24:430:24:47

-That's a good, that's a good message to portray to the world.

-Yeah.

0:24:470:24:52

Jesus gave us freedom.

0:24:520:24:54

-With respect I've got to go.

-Thank you.

0:24:540:24:57

It was amazing, because it was them that were asking all the questions.

0:24:570:25:01

-What where they asking you?

-Well, asking...

0:25:010:25:03

well, they were asking about Jesus and they were asking about God

0:25:030:25:06

and, you know, what an opportunity

0:25:060:25:09

to, er, answer them and they were ready to listen.

0:25:090:25:12

I was made for this job, because... been there, bought the T-shirt.

0:25:160:25:23

But I haven't been there, got the T-shirt and all that,

0:25:230:25:27

but I still know I'm in the right place

0:25:270:25:29

-and it's not for the same reasons.

-No.

0:25:290:25:31

It's because I know there's a lot of lost people out there

0:25:310:25:35

and, yeah, and they're just searching

0:25:350:25:38

and until they find that hole that only God can fill,

0:25:380:25:42

they'll still go on searching in the emptiness.

0:25:420:25:45

There's more to life than this.

0:25:470:25:50

SIRENS ECHO

0:25:510:25:54

Kirsty and her son Carson are still living at Alder Hey Hospital.

0:26:070:26:12

But last summer, before his 10th operation,

0:26:120:26:16

they both got a brief taste of a better future.

0:26:160:26:19

Carson was allowed to leave hospital for the first time.

0:26:200:26:24

It's your big day!

0:26:240:26:27

It was only for a few hours,

0:26:270:26:29

but after 18 months in hospital, it was a huge step forward.

0:26:290:26:34

Going home, I think him going into his own house for the first time

0:26:340:26:39

is going to be...amazing. It's going to be brilliant, yeah.

0:26:390:26:44

Yes. Seeing his bedroom for the first time.

0:26:450:26:49

Hey, are you going to see your bedroom?

0:26:490:26:52

Oh... We never ever thought this day would come ever, um...

0:26:570:27:01

-It means everything.

-< It does.

0:27:030:27:06

Bye! Say, "Bye-bye!"

0:27:110:27:15

Yes!

0:27:260:27:28

-Yes!

-SHE KISSES HIM

0:27:280:27:32

Bye!

0:27:370:27:39

Next time, we join Carson on his day trip home.

0:27:490:27:54

Where are we?

0:27:540:27:56

This will be your bedroom.

0:27:560:27:59

What do you think? Eh?

0:27:590:28:03

And we meet Muslim convert Adam Kelwick,

0:28:030:28:08

who tells how a trip abroad changed his life.

0:28:080:28:10

I came back to the UK with a beard, a wife and a dress on, and that's the short version.

0:28:100:28:16

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:230:28:27

At Alder Hey Children's Hospital, the chaplains give support to a young mother whose eighteen-month-old son is seriously ill and about to undergo his tenth operation. Across the city at Liverpool University, Chaplain James Harding is busy providing much-needed support to homesick first-year students, and the street pastors are back on patrol, handing out flip flops and spiritual advice to clubbers, who appear to have more woes than just their sore feet.


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