Waterways Chaplains took a day off from their regular duties recently to attend a training day which gave them a wealth of new information – to help them in their job of offering a listening ear and, where needed, a helping hand to those living on and around Britain’s waterways.
Organised by Workplace Matters (WM), an ecumenical charity which takes Christian values into the workplace and under whose auspices the Waterways Chaplains operate, the training features presentations from Matthew Symonds and Paul Griffin from the Canal & River Trust (CRT); Lyndsay Goff from the Department of Work & Pensions and the Mental Health Consultant, Caroline Dibble.
WM’s Manager, Ancilla Andrew, explained that the event – held at the Village Hall in Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire, close to the Canal Museum near the Grand Union Canal – allowed each speaker to deliver a wealth of specialised information and guidance to each of the chaplains.
“Since it began supplying waterways chaplains, some six years ago, WM has helped waterways users to tackle social and moral issues,” said Ancilla.
“Our chaplains continue to be both helpful and successful – making an appreciable, positive difference to those whose lives are connected with canals and rivers,” she added. “For example, we’ve seen suicide rates fall significantly on the waterways where its chaplains are active.
“The training day – one of several that WM plans to run – will enable the chaplains to be even more effective in their role.”
Drawn from local Christian communities, WM’s Waterways Chaplains – who may be either lay or ordained – give up a number of days each month to walk an area of towpath and get to know the people there.
The Rev Dr John Scott, WM’s CEO, commented: “Chaplains offer friendship and a listening ear to individuals and to organisations. They need to be available to, and provide support for, all – regardless of religion or race.”