The Gift of Years

Resourcing the spiritual journey of older people

Transforming the spiritual lives of older people in the UK

The Gift of Years is part of what we offer to support churches for outreach in the local community and has been developed by BRF since 2014

Interest in The Gift of Years is growing steadily across denominations and in all parts of the UK as Debbie Thrower and Alex Burn help more and more people to explore the Anna Chaplain model of chaplaincy to older people, which Debbie pioneered originally as a grassroots ecumenical project in Alton, Hampshire.

Through The Gift of Years we aim to inspire, equip and enable every church across the UK to meet the spiritual needs of older people wherever they may be - in congregations, in residential care, in their own homes and in the community. At the heart of The Gift of Years is the Anna Chaplain model which we are making widely accessible.

We're aiming to:

  • increase the provision of spiritual care services for older people
  • raise awareness of older people's spiritual needs
  • improve skills, knowledge and confidence within communities in addressing these needs

Introducing Anna Chaplaincy

At the heart of The Gift of Years is a growing network of Anna Chaplains who deliver spiritual care services for older people, and Anna Friends who assist them. They work in care homes, private homes, churches and other community settings with people of strong, little or no faith.

The activities of Anna Chaplains vary depending on the needs of the older people they work with, but are likely to include encouraging individuals to review their life story, delivering home Communion services and praying with them.

As the number of older people in the UK rises in the coming years, churches are uniquely placed to address the spiritual dimension of growing older. Many older people cannot be part of a faith community in a traditional sense, due to health or mobility problems. Anna Chaplaincy can help, as it brings spiritual care to them.

Twelve Anna Chaplains and others involved in similar work are already part of the emerging Anna Chaplain network. Many more people are exploring this particular ministry and we're currently working with several Anglican dioceses, local churches and individuals to help them take this forward.

Find out more about Anna Chaplaincy

The work of the Anna Chaplains is timely and of profound significance as the church seeks to serve the older generation and speak into public policy around provision for the vulnerable in our society.

Rt Revd Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton

How you can get involved


Our work is entirely funded by donations and grants from individuals, churches and charitable trusts (more about how we're funded).

Can you help The Gift of Years to develop and become more established by giving a one-off or regular donation? Thank you.


We are so grateful to those who pray for our work.

Please pray for Debbie and Alex as they undertake speaking engagements, talk with church leaders and consider the best way to establish and develop what we offer through The Gift of Years and the Anna Chaplain model.

Find out more

The Gift of Years website provides a wealth of information about what we offer and is a great place for churches and individuals to start thinking through spiritual care for older people.

Do also sign up to the newsletter to hear about useful resources and events near you.

Visit The Gift of Years website

Anna Chaplaincy is a proven way of reaching out to older people that fosters hope and helps combat the loneliness experienced by too many people who feel 'surplus to requirements' as they get older.

Debbie Thrower, The Gift of Years Team leader

Debbie Thrower
It is time for churches across the denominations to recognise fully the needs and the potential of older people, both in churches and in wider communities. Ministry among older people should be seen as just as valuable as youth and children's ministry.