The staff at St. Michael’s are able to assist organisations in our parish by becoming chaplains.
Many enterprises have chaplains, as a valuable addition to their Human Resources facilities, through whom staff have regular, confidential access to someone they can talk to. Many football clubs, supermarkets, High Street stores and commercial companies large and small have found it helpful to have a chaplain who makes regular visits, or is on call to assist in a tricky situation.
For instance, we are delighted to be welcomed as chaplains at the ASDA store in the Turner Rise Retail Park here in Myland, and also at Tall Trees Care Home in Mile End Road and Woodland View Care Home in Turner Road.
Our chaplains are accredited members of the Diocese of Chelmsford's Workplace Chaplaincy Team, and are co-ordinated by Colchester’s Industrial Chaplain.
For those who are considering appointing a chaplain, we answer a few common questions below.
What is a chaplain?
A chaplain is an appointed and accredited member of the local Christian church who visits your premises regularly, on a voluntary basis, to provide support to staff and (if appropriate) customers. Chaplains usually have considerable commercial experience and are able to identify with issues which can arise in the workplace. They do not “push religion”, but are motivated by their own faith to help where they can – mostly by giving time so that people can talk about what is important to them.
Why have a chaplain?
Work – and life – can be stressful. A chaplain can help people make work more fulfilling, and work through any issues or problems by being available to talk.
A chaplain is independent of the company, and conversations are confidential. They are an important extra resource to staff who would appreciate support.
A chaplain is a key community link, able to build bridges with other sections of the local community.
What will a chaplain do?
Visit the premises for (typically) a couple of hours a week, or as agreed.
Go everywhere allowed – the shop floor, offices, warehouse – to talk to colleagues whilst taking care not to interrupt work.
Be available, such as in a staff restaurant.
Vary the time of visits if appropriate, so that all staff have an opportunity to chat if required.
What will a chaplain NOT do?
Push any type of religion.
Talk to anyone who does not want to talk to them.
Discriminate against anyone in any way.
Work as if they were a member of staff.
Provide a formal counselling service.
How can we make the most of having a chaplain?
Appoint a key contact in the organisation – e.g. an HR/personnel manager.
Induct the chaplain into the organisation’s culture and procedures.
Involve the chaplain in general communications and events.
Invite the chaplain to be a “member of the team” in whatever way is felt appropriate.
Ensure staff are aware that you have a chaplain – perhaps by circulating a leaflet and putting up posters.
What about people of other faiths, or none?
We’re not there to “convert people”, so this should not be an issue. However, we would talk about faith issues if asked. If an employee would value talking to a representative of another religion or denomination, we will be pleased to put them in touch.
How can I explore this further?
We would be delighted to call on you to chat through how chaplaincy could work for your organisation. If you would like us to do that, please ring us on one of the following numbers.
Revd John Chandler (01206) 366930
Revd Ray Gibbs (01206) 843926
We interviewed the Reverend John Chandler about his ASDA chaplaincy:
Why an ASDA chaplain?
I have been serving ASDA as chaplain since 2005; the company have over 250 chaplains across the country, and are virtually the only large retail store chain to have chaplains. It's important to us in Myland that we support the enterprises in our parish, and so good that we are welcomed by ASDA management. The number of ASDA colleagues makes the store the size of a village - add customers, and it's the size of a town - so it needs its own vicar!
What do you do?
I spend a couple of hours a week walking the aisles and in the staff areas. It makes me available rather than people having to seek me out or get up the courage to make a phone call. Secondly, by meeting people occasionally and some of the colleagues almost weekly, people get to know your face and then yourself - and this builds an atmosphere of confidence, trust and reliability.
Will you go to other workplaces?
Whilst there's a limit to the amount of time I'll be able to devote to chaplaincy work, we do want to engage with companies in this way, and would want to respond positively to any requests we receive.
Do you work alone?
No. I am part of the Essex WorkPlace chaplaincy team; I am one of a number of chaplains working in and around Colchester; I'm part of the parish staff team and of course am supported by the structure of the Church of England.