The Box Moor Trust, which manages some 480 acres of agricultural and amenity land for the benefit of the inhabitants of Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon, has approved a grant of £2,500 to Workplace Matters (WM), an ecumenical charity which takes Christian values into the workplace.
The grant is to help WM provide equipment for its Waterways chaplains – notably to help them carry out their duties to boaters on the Grand Union Canal as it passes through the Trust’s land.
“The Box Moor Trust makes available, annually, a small grant fund for local, not-for-profit organisations,” explained WM’s Manager, Ancilla Andrew. “These grants are intended for the purchase of equipment or for other capital projects.
“In WM’s case, the money will be spent on such things as waistcoats and jackets, along with other equipment for the chaplains as they carry out their duties. The clothing will clearly identify the wearers as chaplains engaged in Waterways chaplaincy.”
The Rev Dr John Scott, WM’s CEO, explained: “Waterways chaplaincy is a relatively new venture for WM – beginning some six years ago – but the current team of waterways chaplains is making an appreciable, positive difference to those whose lives are connected with canals and rivers.
“Life on and around the waterways is no different from life anywhere else,” he added, “The problems and issues people face – especially those related to drink and drugs – are the same on the waterways as everywhere else.”
“In addition to our professional chaplaincy, WM is looking for volunteers who’d be interested in becoming waterways chaplains in this area,” said John. “Candidates need good social skills; should enjoy meeting people; be able to listen effectively; be cheerful; be sensitive to the many issues that will arise; enjoy being ‘out and about’ around the canal in all weathers – and need to be able to work as part of a team.”
Waterways chaplains – who give up a number of days each month to walk an area of towpath and get to know the people there – are drawn from practicing Christians, either lay or ordained, who’re connected with a recognised church.
“Chaplains offer friendship and a listening ear to individuals and to organisations,” John continued. “They need to be available to, and provide support for, all – regardless of religion or race.”
He added: “We believe that our chaplains supply a unique personal level of support that’s impossible to get anywhere else. WM networks with a range of faith groups and networks and recognises that faith is deeply entwined with every aspect of community and working life.”
As the Waterways Chaplaincy has developed both its contacts among both those living on the waterways and with various officials, it’s developed its expertise and experience in being able to help both waterways’ residents and officialdom.
Since it began supplying waterways chaplains, WM has helped waterways users tackle social and moral issues. Among other things, it has helped resolve long-running tangles between boaters and ‘officialdom’ – and has seen suicide rates fall on the waterways where its chaplains are active.
If you’d like to volunteer to become part of the chaplaincy team, contact WM at 41 Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 1HE (tel 01727 818144) or [email protected]