Winter 2019 Newsletter
Bringing chaplaincy to the heart of policing
Some words from Patrick
As I write this message, I drift back to the time when I started as a "Volunteer Chaplain" almost ten years ago with Surrey Police (Walton on Thames police station - now a block of flats for the retired), I'm sure all of you who have been involved with the police, whether in service or as a volunteer will agree that the policing world is constantly evolving, in order to keep up with the demands and pressures. In the last ten years or so since I joined the Surrey Police Multifaith Chaplaincy team as a volunteer and subsequently as the Force Chaplain, I have seen and experienced astronomical amount of changes myself locally as well as nationally - some may say that's the nature of the beast but we all know that for the Police to keep up with the dark forces, they need to constantly keep making challenging decisions and constantly keep changing the way they do things in order to keep a step ahead of the criminal world and maintain public safety and confidence. The challenges keep coming their way in many shapes and forms, austerity and its effects to say the least and yet police officers do an amazing job in such challenging circumstances.
One thing however, that has remained constant in the Policing world is the Chaplaincy and the desire of the Chaplains to help, assist and journey with colleagues through all seasons of life, happy or sad and it has been an absolute privilege to be part of such a committed and dedicated team of Chaplains and particularly since I was appointed Chair of Police Chaplaincy UK. I have attended meetings and met individuals from all over the UK and everyone has always spoken highly of the Chaplains and their commitment to their role and as Chair of Police Chaplaincy UK that made me immensely proud of the commitment and dedication of the team of Chaplains, always ready and willing to jump in and be available - Thank you!
On the topic of change and dedication, I wanted to share my news of personal change with you. As you may already know that I am a Church Army Evangelist (Lay Minister in the Church of England) but for a while felt God calling me to ordained ministry. Having gone through a long and stringent selection process (some think the recruitment process to join the police is tough - I say try responding to God's call to ordination in the CofE!) the Church of England in their wisdom have recommended me for ordination! I have already started my training at St Mellitus College in London, and although initially my hope was to do the training and the job in tandem I soon realised that if only I was a few years younger...
Friends I just wanted to inform you that due to level of commitment the training requires as well as the demands of family life and also my personal health, I have decided to resign as the Force Chaplain to Surrey and that subsequently means that I have to step down as the Chair of Police Chaplaincy UK to fully concentrate on the training. As sad as that has been for me I know in my heart of hearts, that this is the right decision for me and the family.
Finally, I also want to reiterate, that I have full confidence in the team (Board of Directors) and David Wilbraham as the National Chaplain that Police Chaplaincy UK is in safe hands and that with such an experienced, dedicated and committed team at the helm, Police Chaplaincy UK will certainly have a huge impact on Chaplaincies nationally and I for one will be watching the progress very keenly.
With warmest regards and best wishes
Patrick - Outgoing Chair
Some words from Charles
| As interim Chair my first task is to thank Patrick for his time and support as Chair of the PCUK Board and to wish him well as his future ministry develops under God’s care and direction. I am sure that at some future stage Patrick may find himself called back into Chaplaincy.
As I as reflected on the content of this article I was reminded of the key characteristics of a Chaplain as defined by the Methodist Church.
If we unpack that definition and apply it to our own work, we can see clear parallels with the pattern of our own ministry. We go beyond the confines of our places of worship and find ourselves grounded and challenged in the reality of everyday life and the pressures that the men and women of the police service feel and experience every day. Quite rightly we have no power and we are in every sense servants to those whom we serve, but that servanthood is both vulnerable and empowering. We walk alongside listening to stories and sharing journeys, but we are also called to recognise and confront injustice whenever we see it. The prophetic element of our calling to speak out for others is a vital but often the most challenging, and it speaks of our own vulnerability. We also embody faith in the presence of a secular society but also in a climate where people are searching for meaning and a sense of self-worth. The richness of our religious diversity is our greatest strength when irrespective of our faith tradition we are not in competition but recognising the image of God in all people. Chaplaincy is not so much taking God to the front line, but rather disclosing his presence in the toughness of life and living.
In the Spring we will be holding elections for some new Board appointments as some existing members stand down, including me. When the details of the elections are published please consider the opportunity prayerfully and see whether God is calling you into this work.
Charles Nevin - Interim Chair
New leaflets have been designed are avaliable for Chaplains to order through the National Chaplain. The new leaflets are a more modern design and contain all the essential information we wish people to know about the work of Police Chaplains.
There is also a version that can be downloaded and to which you are welcome to edit and print locally and this will be on the website shortly.
Like the new leaflets, a new pull-up banner has also been produced. Get yours now!
There is a fantastic reource section on our website which is well used but is in need of updating.
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|From the world of Twitter|
Thoughts from the National Chaplain
November is a month of remembrance and reflection. As a nation we commemorate those lost in war with the customary two minute silence and associated ceremonies. It is the month in which All Souls Day and All Saints Day falls and we recall our deceased loved ones.
It is right to give thought to such things. Memories are very precious to us and bring with them a huge range of powerful emotions. Throughout nature in the cycle of life we see how through death comes life. Significant things can happen because of and through death – there are countless life changing, life enhancing Trusts, Charities, Research projects and Organisations that have brought life to many - inspired by the death of one. Not for one moment saying that we would desire that to be the case – for we would all long to have our loved ones alongside us especially when their death seems untimely and at far too young an age – but out of brokenness can come healing; out of darkness – light; out of sorrow – joy; from despair – hope.
I am writing this article following an important occasion in the Policing Calendar. At the end of September I was privileged to lead the annual National Police Memorial Day Service which was held this year in Glasgow. I am now the coordinator of this event and it is an significant role for Police Chaplaincy to hold. The day was founded by a Kent police officer, Joe Holness, following the death of his friend and colleague John Odell. Joe not only wanted to ensure that this officer was remembered but that there would be a special day in which some 4000 police officers who have died whilst on duty would be remembered. Sadly, each year that number increases and this year the names of another 7 officers were read out who have died whilst on duty.
Another important event which I attended was the 2019 Police Bravery Awards. This was a very moving evening where the specific stories of each regional finalist were told before the overall winner was announced by the Home Secretary. Though very different, each account involved tremendous acts of bravery, commitment, dedication and really gallant action by the officers concerned who selflessly put the needs of others above themselves and their commitment to public service above personal consideration. It was a humbling event and it is a great pity that many outside the service choose to focus on more negative, isolated, undermining and destructive incidents rather than giving a loud voice to accounts of overwhelming bravery and commitment by officers and staff day by day, just some of which are represented amongst the annual bravery awards.
One of the declared aims of chaplaincy within the military is: "to offer spiritual support to those who risk sacrificing their lives for others". It is an aim that those of us involved with Police Chaplaincy can readily echo as we, in the context of our role, seek to offer personal, practical and where appropriate spiritual support to police officers and staff who daily "risk sacrificing their lives for others".
Over the past few months I have been reflecting that regardless of the faith or belief of the individual, policing is an inherently ‘spiritual’ occupation, or, as many would feel, vocation. I say this because the day to day work of Policing deals with some really important issues. This includes, for example, issues of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and justice, freedom and responsibility, life and death, the desire for peace, the building of community, concepts of retribution, restitution and forgiveness. It involves seeing people, individually and in groups at their best and also at their very worst. At a personal level it involves commitment, integrity, truth, love, patience, compassion, understanding and self sacrifice. It is the commitment to stand in the place of danger for the ‘Queen’s Peace’ and to maintain law and order for the sake of others - sometimes with terrible consequences as most recently seen in the death of PC Andrew Harper [RIP]. I think it is for this reason that when the publicity and the perception of how the Police are treated is negative, destructive, dishonest and undermining it goes deep, concerns us profoundly and really hurts. It rightly causes us to want to shout, clearly and loudly, that those stories and views need to be balanced with the many more stories of bravery, commitment, self sacrifice and dedication we not only see each day but which more importantly characterise attitudes which bring officers to duty each day.
However, any remembrance of lives lost in war, in the course of duty, or tragically in other ways is not just about remembrance it is also about personal commitment. It has been said ‘The Only Thing Necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ [Edmund Burke attrib.]
National Police Memorial Day, the annual Police Bravery Awards and the ‘daily round’ of Policing and Chaplaincy show a huge commitment to other people.
Recently a National Police Federation leader, quite unsolicited, said to me how much respect the Police Chaplaincy had and the high regard in which it was held. He particularly mentioned our firm commitment to serve all, regardless of faith or belief as an important characteristic. Those relationships, built in peacetime are of immense value and credibility come the ‘day of battle’ whether that is just to listen to personal accounts of pressures, concerns and difficulties or far more tragic when an officer dies.
As chaplains, enjoy your vocation and commitment. The composer John Barrie had this prayer on his desk as he pursued his vocation...
‘May the light of your soul guide you’ [John O’Donohue]
Over the course of the summer and into Autumn I have attended a number of Conferences and have had the opportunity to speak of the role of Police Chaplaincy. This has included Police Federation Conferences, the National Association of Retired Police Officers Conference, the police Superintendents’ Conference, the Police Care UK Volunteers Conference and the Christian Police Association Leaders Conference to name a few. It is really encouraging when delegates speak with clear appreciation, warmth and admiration for the work and engagement of their own force chaplaincy. Thank you for what you do day by day which is the best reinforcement and affirmation of what I present and say about what Police Chaplaincy. It is almost universally the case that the chaplaincy is held in high regard and that the commitment to be there for everyone, regardless of faith or belief, is a valued aspect of our work.
I would like to highlight a number of areas particularly. I spoke at the Police Federation Equality Liaison Officers training Conference.
These are representatives of the Police Federation in each force who not only champion equality & diversity but who support individuals who are experiencing difficulty because they are different. Often there are pastoral needs and concerns in such situations and they recognise a valuable role for the chaplaincy to help support those they are dealing with. They also would value support in their role as they seek to navigate what can sometimes be difficult waters and manage competing demands. You could well offer pastoral care or just a listening ear to those who are supporting others. We are all cogs in the wheel of such situations. Perhaps make a point of speaking with your local Police Federation and explore how some good partnership working could be established not only in regard to equality & diversity but with the varied circumstances they deal with.
The Police Superintendents Association [PSA] have been for many years a strong supporter of Police Chaplaincy and we are grateful for their involvement and tangible support of our work. The PSA have local branches and a regional network and again would be useful groups to establish contact with at a local level. Leadership can be a lonely place and support is highly valued whether that is to just be a ‘listening ear’ or to offer more in depth support. It is important to support the senior leaders of the service, not because they are more important, but because their decisions can affect the lives of many internally and externally.
Police Care UK, formerly The Police Dependents Trust, does superb work supporting officers, staff and their families who have been injured physically or mentally. They are a good resource for you to be awre of so do explore their website. I spoke at the Police Care Volunteers Conference to inform them of Police Chaplaincy and how we might work together. Across forces they have a network of local volunteers and you may wish to invite the local representative to one of your Chaplaincy meetings to speak of what they do, can offer and how you might access their resources.
Across the country there are encouraging Chaplaincy developments in a number of forces. Bedfordshire has just relaunched their Chaplaincy team with 14 new chaplains recently taking part in an Induction Course. Other forces are exploring appointing a paid lead chaplain or coordinator including West Yorkshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Surrey will also be seeking a replacement for Patrick. Particularly encouraging is the agreement for a pilot Chaplaincy project within the Police Service of Northern Ireland which I would ask for a special corner of your prayers.
Thanks for all you are doing
The National Police Memorial Day
Thousands of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty were honoured at this year’s annual National Police Memorial Day service, which took place in Glasgow.
HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of the charity, was among those in attendance at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. Known in Scotland as the Duke of Rothesay, HRH was joined by Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Priti Patel, Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon, more than 40 Chief Constables and around 1,500 former colleagues and family members of serving police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
In the order of service, HRH The Prince of Wales said: “Policing in the United Kingdom has enormous pressures to contend with, no more so than on the front line. As society changes, so must the way in which we support and protect our communities. Your job is one of the toughest there is, and all too often your efforts go unrecognized.
I am proud to be with you today, and I particularly want you to know how very much I appreciate all that you do, and the sacrifices you make. You and your families have a very special place in the heart of this Nation.”
Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone QPM said: “I am honoured, as Chief Constable of the host force, to once again be involved in the National Police Memorial. It is a poignant and important occasion for us all.
Police officers perform a difficult and sometimes dangerous job. We do so without fear or favour, with courage, integrity and humanity. Policing is a job like no other, it is a vocation. It’s not what we do, it’s who we are.
These occasions allow us to come together to remember and honour those who are not here, but through our memories remain with us.”
During the service, candles were lit by relatives who mourn their loved ones and in remembrance of officers throughout the country who have lost their lives.
Representing Scotland, Margaret Sinclair, supported by her daughter, Patricia Sinclair, wife and daughter of PC Leslie Sinclair, who died in 1972 from injuries sustained in a road traffic collision whilst on duty.
Representing England, Rumbie Mabuto, widow of PC Joe Mabuto, who died after suffering a heart attack whilst on duty, was supported by their children, Kenny and Sophia.
Representing Wales, William Parker, son of PC Andy Parker, who was killed in a motorbike crash when travelling home after a night shift.
Representing Northern Ireland, Margo Hetherington, daughter of Reserve Constable Jacob Rankin, Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross, who was fatally shot in 1978 whilst on duty by terrorists.
There was silence as petals of remembrance, representing all who have lost their lives, descended from the gallery as the orchestra played ‘Abide with me’ and the Last Post was sounded.
Speaking about the service and its importance, widow, Rumbie Mabuto, wife of Joe Mabuto, Thames Valley said: “It was a good day – we got to meet the Prince and it was touching that he knew me already and went into Joseph’s past and asked how we are doing, which was nice for the kids.”
Canon David Wilbraham, National Police Chaplain and Co-ordinator of National Police Memorial Day said: “I extend my gratitude to everyone who attended today’s service and for their ongoing support. It is always a day filled with emotion but also with immense pride. It is only right that we stop to remember the sacrifices made by those who protect us. I know it meant a lot to the families and friends of our fallen colleagues to have our Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales with us today in Glasgow.”
|Keith Chappell - Volunteer Chaplain in Joint Operations Unit, Roads Policing, Thames Valley Police reflects on his first year as a Chaplain.||
One Year On
Two recently appointed chaplains reflect on their role as a volunteer chaplain
|Tessa Hince - Volunteer Chaplain, in Joint Operations Unit, Roads Policing, Thames Valley Police reflects on her first year as a Chaplain.|
Somebody recently described to me a scene from a Woody Allen film in which a character finds himself in a large crowd of people who look completely different to himself and are nervously eyeing him, he asks out loud "What am I doing here?". When I go into my role as police chaplain I think I can empathise with that character, a bit unsure of my role and conscious that somehow I am quite different from most of the people around me. This is not to say that I feel unwelcome, by no means. It is simply, I think, that this is all a bit new to me and to all the officers and staff. I am based in an operational unit that has never had a chaplain before and so together we are finding out what a chaplain is there for and, lets be honest, it occupies more of my time and energy than it does theirs.
In my first few weeks in role we had a remembrance service and then a memorial for an officer who had died in the line of duty one year before. This certainly focussed the mind and gave a sense of purpose, helping me a great deal in feeling useful and everyone in getting a sense of why I might be there. Since then we have had various welfare events in which I have managed to meet many people but the question still remains on a day-to-day basis of what I add to the unit I am with. I do think there is a purpose, and some days that is clear. I may have a conversation with someone having a tough time, I may help to signpost someone to some specialist support or I might simply have a cup of tea with a group of officers with no particular issues. On these days I feel I have stepped a little closer to getting a grip of chaplaincy. On other days I can come away and wonder whether there is any point in me being there. I may have been ignored by people or it may have been clear that I was not wanted. Then, when I am in my most lucid state, I realise that this is the point of chaplaincy. I find it too easy to make things about me and about how good I feel about myself as I head for home. Chaplaincy would seem to be about what St Benedict calls accompaniment, walking alongside people on the smooth road and the rough. It means helping when called upon and stepping away when not needed. My first year as a chaplain has been great for me in developing a spirituality that is not about me – a very tough call believe me.
Have I enjoyed my first year as a chaplain? Absolutely. Am I good at it? No, of course not. I do know that when I believe that I am good, however, that will be when I should worry but I think the officers will keep me straight and humble in that regard. After all, we’re all imposters aren’t we?
My name is Tessa Hince and I joined Thames Valley Police as a Chaplain in January 2019. I initially saw an advert online and this support role looked very interesting to me. Having previously volunteered with the Oxford Samaritans, where I learnt the value of listening and just being there when things start to become too much for one to handle alone, or we are faced with unexpected challenges that we are not taught how to cope with.
The biggest challenges of chaplaincy within the Police are being there at the right time, knowing when that time is, and being able to determine when is appropriate to engage in times of distress. As oddly as it sounds, Humankind can become quite sceptical of kindness, and building trusted relationships can take a long time.
I do remember my first visit, and being slightly nervous about meeting people who I knew were incredibly busy. The last thing I wanted was to be a nuisance or feel I was in the way. My perceptions couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone was so friendly and offered to put the kettle on to make me a cup and tea, and I was left feeling that somehow that was my job! From then on I started to visit once a week and I displayed my poster, issued business cards and even took in some sweet treats!
I also started to undertake monthly ride-a-longs to better acquaint myself with some of the teams, and also gather a deeper understanding of their day to day roles. I found that to be a real eye opener, but I was well looked after and I must say I have even been treated to the odd portion of fish and chips too!
If I look back over the last 11 months I have made some great friendships within the teams, but also feel that I still meet new people each week.
Overall, it has been a good experience for me personally and the profile of chaplaincy across the force appears to be improving. I have thoroughly enjoyed the friendliness, support and comradery that makes working with the Police so special.
I would like to conclude my article by paying tribute to our hero PC Andrew Harper, and that my thoughts will continue to be with his wife Lissie, his family and his friends.