Neighbourhood Chaplains

Church Growth Trust (CGT) works closely with Counties UK and is therefore keen to promote one of Counties’ initiatives that is transforming local communities. As well as making Jesus known across the UK by equipping and training evangelists (currently they have 40 evangelists in England and Wales) and funding and managing Christian resources for schools, Counties UK has also rolled out Neighbourhood Chaplains, a scheme that equips churches to engage with their communities in a fresh way. “A major driver for us is the loneliness epidemic,” says Counties UK’s CEO Martin Erwin, as he ponders on the needs that he and his colleagues believe the national programme will meet.

Statistics released by Age Concern and Help the Aged in 2009 revealed that more than one million people aged over 65 in Britain say they are always or often feel lonely. A TNS Survey for Age UK in 2014 said nearly 50% of older people see their TV or pet as their main form of company. So serious is the issue of loneliness, that in October 2017 Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, Britain’s chief GP, warned fellow doctors that loneliness can harm people’s health just as much as high blood pressure or smoking.






But God has been mobilising His people to help tackle this. “Neighbourhood Chaplains came about through one of our evangelists, who was doing door-to-door work. He discovered that there’s a great need for the church to connect with people in their communities,” explains Martin.

This connection has proven vital during lockdown when people were isolated and shielding. Through the befriending of the regional volunteers of the neighbourhood chaplaincy initiatives, many people were offered practical help with shopping, collecting perscriptions and getting their gardening done. Also, volunteers gifted “Hope Hampers” for new born babies, “Bags of Blessings” containing toiletry items for hospital patients. During this difficult time daily helplines for prayer were set up and “thinking of you” cards posted daily though letter boxes.

Counties Training Officer and Neighbourhood Chaplains volunteer Beverley Bedford says: “I have always felt that the church should be first in line to love its community in word and action. For me, neighbourhood chaplaincy means being engaged in the community and being prepared to stand in the gap where there is a need for help and support. A neighbourhood chaplain is in a unique position to offer hope, to give quality time and to invest in people’s lives. One individual who provided feedback to Neighbourhood Chaplains said, “the service was invaluable; the chaplains kept coming to visit when others stopped calling.””

To read more of this interview click on our Foundations magazine below and you can continue on pages 14 – 16

Foundations Autumn 2020