Helpers Information Booklet

Information Book For Helpers
Helper Groups

A group of sick pilgrims, who generally suffer from a range of illnesses, conditions and disabilities are cared for in a purpose built centre called the 'Accueil Saint Frai'. A team of helpers consisting of doctors, nurses, clergy, men and women look after the sick pilgrims, providing round-the-clock care, starting in Edinburgh Airport on the Friday, and ending in the same place on the following Friday.

Helpers normally perform a set list of duties but do not have to do anything that they are not comfortable with.

The Chaplains are available to our sick pilgrims and helpers for prayer, spiritual guidance and the Sacraments. Their role could involve anything from concelebrating at Mass, to providing individual spiritual direction.

This is a French word meaning “stretcher-bearer”, used to describe a male helper in Lourdes. Tasks could include:

  • assisting sick pilgrims on the journey
  • pushing wheelchairs or pulling voitures (a carriage used to transport sick pilgrims)
  • assisting sick pilgrims to feed/dress/wash, if comfortable with this
  • assist the Chief Brancardier in co-ordinating ceremonies – e.g. “stewarding” a procession, holding an umbrella at Communion, or taking up a collection
  • taking part in a ceremony or procession such as carrying a symbol, icon, incense bowl or candle
  • taking sick pilgrims out shopping and to cafés
The nursing team provide 24 hour care and support for our sick pilgrims in the Accueil Saint Frai. They are involved in assessing sick pilgrims prior to the Pilgrimage. Nurses will have a valid PIN number from the NMC and are encouraged to hold industry insurance. Carers/Auxiliaries are valued members of the nursing team.

Doctors must be registered with the General Medical Council and hold a Licence to practice. They must hold medical indemnity insurance and while in Lourdes, doctors are encouraged to become members of the Lourdes Medical Bureau.
Prior to the Pilgrimage, the doctors are involved in the assessment of all Saint Frai pilgrims and also in passing this information to the nurses in a briefing meeting prior to the Pilgrimage.

The doctors work closely with the other helper groups throughout the week and provide a 24 hour on call service for the Saint Frai. They may also be asked to assess or provide advice for all other Archdiocesan pilgrims.

Lady Helpers support sick pilgrims so they can participate in the Pilgrimage. Duties include:
  • helping with dressing and feeding patients
  • serving meals and making endless cups of tea!
  • keeping our wards and kitchen area clean and tidy
  • helping to transfer patients to services, shopping and cafes
  • helping with the evening entertainment
  • taking part in a ceremony or procession such as carrying a symbol, icon, incense bowl or candle
  • taking sick pilgrims out shopping and to cafés
  • being available for any other needs that arise
Youth for Lourdes (YFL) is the youth group for helpers aged 16-30. Young people would undertake similar duties to other helpers but often stay in the same Hotel in order to create a supportive environment.

Some of our musically talented helpers make up Edinburgh Lourdes Music Orchestra (ELMO) which provides the music for all the liturgies during our time in Lourdes and at home. They also provide the music for the ad hoc sing-songs in the Saint Frai. Being a very accomplished group of musicians and singers, their music is of a high standard and is an important part of our time in Lourdes.

Each helper group has a "Chief" who oversees the group. In addition, the following roles exist:
  • The Pilgrimage Director is the overall co-ordinator of the Pilgrimage and acts as a link between the Pilgrimage and the Lourdes Authorities
  • The Chair of the Pilgrimage Committee chairs committee meetings and supports the member of the Pilgrimage Committee
  • The Safeguarding/Data coordinator maintains helper data and oversees the administration of Safeguarding tasks on behalf of the Pilgrimage Committee
In addition to all the helper groups, there will also be other pilgrims, known as “hotel pilgrims”. Whilst they do not volunteer to work with our sick pilgrims, they do join us during the Pilgrimage programme where everyone comes together for Masses, Ceremonies, Processions and parties.

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