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Lindsay van Dijk becomes the first humanist to stand for President of the College of Healthcare Chaplains

Chair of NRPSN: Lindsay van Dijk

This week, Lindsay van Dijk – Chair of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network – has become the first ever humanist pastoral carer to stand for the role of President of the College of Healthcare Chaplains.

The College of Health Chaplains is a professional organisation for chaplains and pastoral carers of all religion and belief groups. It works to promote the professional standing of chaplaincy and pastoral support and to support its members, both nationally and within health and social care organisations.

If elected to the role, Lindsay will be responsible for chairing the CHCC’s Organisation Professional Committee, which sets the agenda for the college’s work – and will keep members informed of the College’s work via regular updates. The President also acts as a spokesperson for the pastoral care profession, and a liaison between other stakeholders key to healthcare chaplaincy in the UK and internationally. This includes the opportunity to speak to media professionals and academics on issues facing pastoral carers today.

This is not the first time Lindsay has broken new ground within the pastoral care profession. In 2018, she became the first humanist to lead a pastoral care or chaplaincy department in the NHS. In 2020, she is still the lead pastoral carer at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust, and has continued to be an important advocate of high-quality pastoral care in hospitals, hospices, prisons, and in the military.

In 2018, Humanists UK and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling co-created a new academic route into non-religious pastoral care. Lindsay played a key role in setting up the MA degree, which trains new students each year through the bespoke programme. The NRPSN now provides emotional support to vulnerable people in over 40% of NHS trusts and 20% of prisons across England and Wales, and demand is growing year on year.

Most recently, Lindsay contributed to Humanists UK’s National Memorial Ceremony for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elections for the role of President opened on 5 October, and members of the organisation have received voting information directly from the college.


Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

To learn more about non-religious pastoral care, and why its provision is so important in hospital and prison settings, read our interview with Lindsay, ‘The Art of Listening’.

See also: Humanists UK’s Simon O’Donoghue elected Chair of Network for Pastoral, Spiritual, and Religious Care in Health (2018)

If you are interested in training to be a non-religious pastoral carer, please contact our Head of Humanist Care, Jessica Grace, on

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