We are delighted when we hear about the unity of the church being expressed in loving action. Watford is a great example of long term commitment and care by a unified church taking action to bless the heart of the community they are in. Frances Novillo is Lead Chaplain for the Town Centre Chaplaincy and he has been kind enough to share with us some of the amazing things that are happening through their great work.
Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy is one of 33 town and city centre chaplaincies affiliated to the Alliance of Town and City Chaplaincies, and we run two core projects through which Christians from different churches come together to express the love of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in practical and pastoral ways to the local community, that is, everyone who lives, works, shops or socialises here in Watford town centre.
Our Street Angels go out and about overnight at the weekends in the ‘party area’ of the town, around the clubs and late-opening bars. They greet everyone they meet, and are always on the look-out for anyone who might be in need. They aim to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable night out, so for example, they listen to anyone who is feeling lonely or upset, help people find taxi ranks or recharge their mobile phones so they can make a call and reunite with friends or get home safely, they signpost people in particular need to specialist sources of support (we have good links with our local homelessness charity, New Hope, for example), they sit with people waiting for an ambulance, provide slippers for people who can’t walk in uncomfortable high heels anymore, and foil blankets for people who are cold. Street Angels operate in teams, and while one Street Angel is helping someone, others stand nearby praying for them. We are willing to pray with people we meet who ask about our faith, and carry Bibles to share the Word of God if people ask us to witness to our faith, and to encourage one another. We enjoy great working relationships with bar staff, security, police, the council and BID, who recognise the difference our ministry has made to reducing crime and making the town centre a calmer and more pleasant place to be overnight.
Our daytime Chaplains visit people at work in local businesses, gradually building up a relationship of trust by saying hello and showing an interest in people’s work, so that whenever someone experiences struggles at work or home, they know they can turn to their Chaplain for pastoral care. People talk to our Chaplains about their relationships, their health, bereavement, the future, work pressure, and sometimes matters of faith, for example, where they can pray during the working day, what the local churches are like, and the meaning of Bible stories they’ve heard. We contribute to employers’ well-being services, complementing provision such as counselling, unions, and occupational health.
Watford town centre’s intu shopping mall has just completed a huge extension and new stores are opening every week, so we’re recruiting more volunteers to serve them and their customers. It looks like we’ll need to double the size of our Street Angel teams as entertainment outlets (including a cinema and bowling alley, and associated restaurants), some of which are licensed, move into the intu extension. And we’re looking for up to 20 new Chaplains to link up with our local retailers – could you or someone you know offer a listening ear to shop employees? There’s a simple application process as part of which we ask for a reference from your church leader, and induction with our Lead Chaplain, with ongoing supervision and training provided. We are supported by individual donors, and donations from churches, and by a network of prayer supporters.
To find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 01923 227700