Reflections from the Chair - January 2022

17th January 2022

If you prefer you can watch this reflection on YouTube

Chaplaincy for every school and college in the UK…?  Why? Well, if it’s the right thing for hospitals, prisons and universities, then why not schools and colleges?  If they recognise that the spiritual aspect of our being is important and needs care, then surely that’s true of our young people as well.  However, that’s a more cerebral argument.  I think my real answer to why we need a chaplaincy in every school and college starts with our young people and our teachers.  

 Children in a primary school said they say the chaplain ‘calming us down’ and ‘helping us think about the positives’. A young refugee looked back to when he first arrived from Syria in the UK, two years ago and said of his chaplain, ‘when I was in year 4 she helped me a lot, when I was angry, she helped me. She had a big bear in her room, afterwards I felt happy.’

 In a community primary school the head teacher said ‘Although we’re not a church school it’s great to know that there’s someone to offload to, with a listening ear and a sympathetic word.  In what have been some dark days, he present the still, small voice of calm and a quiet but constant flicker of hope, for which we are very thankful.’

 A student in a secondary school wrote to her chaplain, saying, ‘I want to thank you for helping me through some really tough times. It wasn’t easy, but I can say with pride that I’ve really grown into myself. I just wanted to let you know that you really helped with that.  Another secondary school student wrote to her chaplain to tell her, ‘I wanted to tell you let you know that this is the first full week with no suicidal thoughts in two months!!! I didn’t think I was going to get here and part of getting here was you and the countless times you’ve picked me up off the floor after I’ve had a crap day of week and showing me that I am going to be better than OK!! Thank you so much.’

 In another secondary school students said of their chaplain, ‘He’s like a general handyman, an emotional handyman.  He does a bit of everything. He always has the right thing to say or he can point you in the right direction.  His words are his tools.  He has people coming to ask questions.’  Another student said of that same chaplain, ‘He’s a Jesus teacher because he loves Jesus.  You feel included.  You can talk about religion and stuff in school more freely in a faith group.’

 A secondary school head teacher said of her newly appointed chaplain, ‘The chaplain has contributed so much to our community as a non-church school. I suspect that there have been benefits for us that we had perhaps not expected. He has earned huge respect in our community and has added a calming and reflective element to our culture which is noticeable when he is with us.’

 Those are just a few of the words of students and staff about the impact of chaplaincy in their communities.  So why have a chaplaincy in ever school and college in the UK?  Simply because it makes a difference.  It enables us to be the people who God calls us to be.  It enables us to live and share and discover and explore faith.  It enables us to live life in all its fullness.

 Step by step, one school and college at a time, we are seeing that aspiration, that dream, that prayer realised, that we can have a chaplaincy in every school and college in the UK, and I give thanks for it.

 I close with a final word about a college chaplaincy.  ‘I’ve connected with other people and formed friendships through the chaplaincy with people I wouldn’t normally spend time with.  When I walk past you see people from different backgrounds, contexts and cultures, it’s constantly set up to be welcoming, to enable people to talk in a kind way.  I’ve done bible studies with the chaplain, he’s prayed for me, he’s exceptional at exploring difficult questions.  The chaplaincy gave me a hope that Christianity could be for me, they gave me a vision of the church family before I’d met the church.’


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